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City Studies Revising Or Scrapping Affordable Housing Location Policy

David Boraks
Some newer developments in Charlotte include a mix of housing types and prices, like Renaissance West, which sits on the former site of the Boulevard Homes housing project.

The Charlotte City Council will vote next month whether to revise or eliminate the city policy on where affordable housing can be built. Officials say the policy is outdated, and conflicts with the council's goal of adding more affordable units. Residents are being asked to comment at meetings beginning this week.

City Housing and Neighborhoods Director Pamela Wideman, said the current policy is not working.

“It's becoming the norm for city council to have to approve waivers for their own locational policy, particularly in areas that are gentrifying and that are in need of affordable housing,” Wideman said.

Charlotte's 2011 Affordable Housing Locational Policy was designed to steer more affordable housing to areas in blue, and away from areas that already have a lot of affordable units (pink).
Credit Charlotte Housing & Neighborhood Services
Charlotte's 2011 Affordable Housing Locational Policy was designed to steer more affordable housing to areas in blue, and away from areas that already have a lot of affordable units (pink).

Like the meeting in April where the city council voted to help finance 11 proposed affordable housing developments that were competing for state tax credits. City Council member Lawana Mayfield made this motion before one of the votes that night:  

“So I am making a motion for action A which is to approve the waiver for the Housing Locational Policy for the five multifamily housing developments,” she said.

The motion allowed the city to ignore its 2011 Housing Locational Policy. That policy's goals are to spread affordable housing around the city — not just in existing low-income neighborhoods — and to promote diversity within neighborhoods.

When city leaders talk about affordable housing, they mean for those who make less than 80 percent of the Charlotte area median income — about $47,000 a year for a two-person household. They're people like teachers, public safety officers and retail workers.  

Waivers have become common as the council pursues a more pressing goal - speeding up development of new affordable housing to meet a shortage now estimated at more than 34,000 units. Think of it as ignoring one goal to meet another.  

So city officials want to revise or eliminate the policy. There's still a concern about concentrating poverty in certain neighborhoods, but there are new goals, too, Wideman said.

“Like making sure that the housing is built in close proximity to job centers, close proximity to transit amenities and other retail amenities,” she said.  

Besides being near transit and jobs, new goals include building affordable housing in the center city, and promoting a mix of housing types in all neighborhoods.

The city council's housing committee is asking for feedback in a series of five meetings beginning this week.   


Community feedback meetings on the city’s Affordable Housing Locational Policy changes are scheduled the follow nights from 6:30 to 8:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 21, CMPD West Service Center, 4150 Wilkinson Boulevard
  • Thursday, Aug. 23, Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Road
  • Tuesday, Aug. 28, East Stonewall AME Zion Church, 1729 Griers Grove Road
  • Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 (also live streamed on the city Facebook page), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center (Room 267), 600 East 4th Street
  • Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, Greater Providence Baptist Church, 2000 Milton Road


More information on the City Housing & Neighborhood Services web page, at charlottenc.gov

City Council Housing & Neighborhood Development committee web page at charlottenc.gov

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.