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Displaced Lake Arbor Tenants Need $350K For Relocation, Agencies Say

Owners of Lake Arbor Apartments in west Charlotte want all residents out by Dec. 31 to make way for "revitalization and improvement."
Owners of Lake Arbor Apartments in west Charlotte want all residents out by Dec. 31 to make way for "revitalization and improvement."

Tenants being displaced by the planned closure of a west Charlotte apartment complex need about $350,000 for temporary housing and other relocation assistance. That's based on an assessment by social service agencies that have met with tenants of the run-down Lake Arbor Apartments off Tuckaseegee Road.  

Liana Humphrey of Crisis Assistance Ministry says it will be difficult for many to find housing. 

"There are a high percentage of families who are earning 30% or less of the area median income. And as we all know, that is a particular challenge in terms of finding affordable housing in Charlotte, at that price point," Humphrey said. 

The complex's owners notified residents last month that they must vacate their apartments to make way for a renovation of the complex. Residents in about 50 of the 177 occupied units have only until Aug. 31 to leave, while the rest must be out by the end of the year. It's one of the largest tenant displacements in recent memory as the city copes with a shortage of affordable housing. 

The United Way, Crisis Assistance Ministry and other groups plan to begin informing residents Friday of relocation assistance available. They're also seeking  donations to the United Way's Critical Needs Relief Fund.

Five agencies, including Mecklenburg County, met with residents of 72 of the units over two weeks. About 169 residents live in those households. Officials said that while they're done conducting assessments, residents of the more than 100 other units also could apply for relocation assistance. 

Humphrey said that assistance could take many forms, including: 

  • Temporary hotel rooms for families who don't have time to find alternative housing. 
  • Moving expenses.
  • Security deposits and first month's rent.
  • Money to connect utilities.
  • And for some families with very low incomes, short-term rental subsidies. 

Kathryn Firmin-Sellers, United Way's chief impact officer, said the agencies will be casting a wide net for assistance.
"We know that we're going to have to lean hard on the landlord to help fund the support for the residents. We will have conversations with the city and the county, and most importantly the philanthropic and faith sectors," she said. 

Lake Arbor is owned by investors in New York City. Through their local lawyer, they've offered residents an "incentive package" including forgiveness of overdue rent and quick return of security deposits if they will clean out their units, return their keys and vacate by the deadline. But housing legal advocates are warning residents not to sign any agreements without consulting a lawyer, so they don't sign away any rights. 

Many units in the 288-unit complex are already vacant. Residents have complained for years about plumbing and electric problems, rats and leaky roofs. City housing inspectors found many violations in a sweep last fall. 

Residents also have filed a class-action suit over the landlord's attempts to collect rent while the complex was in disrepair. The landlord had the case removed from state court to federal court and denied most of the charges. Last week, the tenants asked the federal court to return the case to state court. That request is pending. 


Donations to the United Way of Central Carolinas fund to help tenants may be made at https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/HELPCLT

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.