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Roof Above Buys Apartment Complex For Affordable Housing

HillRock Estates is at Kilborne Drive and Eastway in east Charlotte.
Roof Above
HillRock Estates is at Kilborne Drive and Eastway in East Charlotte.

Charlotte homeless services organization Roof Above is getting into the apartment business with the purchase of a 341-unit complex in east Charlotte. The $50 million purchase includes a guarantee the units will stay affordable for at least another 27 years. 

Roof Above (formerly the Urban Ministry Center) used public and private funds to buy the 32-year-old, recently-renovated HillRock Estates at Kilborne Drive and Eastway. With current rents from $700 to $1,200 a month, the complex provides what's called Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing, or NOAH. 

Affordable housing is disappearing and rents are rising these days throughout Charlotte. And that's put more people at risk of displacement or even homelessness according to experts. 

"In this time of an affordable housing crisis, the current tools we have aren't working in all the ways we need them to work, so we're excited about these new partnerships and innovation to start to move the needle on homelessness," Roof Above CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly said Tuesday. 

Roof Above will use at least 75 units to expand its supportive housing program, which houses and provides training, counseling and other support for long-term homeless residents. The nonprofit also runs theeight-year-old Moore Place, a supportive housing apartment project in the North End of Charlotte.

Hospital Trades Financing For Employee Housing 

Meanwhile, Atrium Health will get 50 units to house its own workers in exchange for helping to finance the comlex with a $5 million, low-interest loan. Last year, Atrium announced it was committing $10 million to affordable housing initiatives in Charlotte.

"Having a strong and reliable home base gives people the foundation to lead healthier and happier lives," Atrium CEO Eugene Woods said in a statement. "Investing in affordable housing for the communities we are privileged to serve -- including essential workers within our Atrium Health family -- is an important and meaningful part of fulfilling our mission." 

Other financing comes from a federal Fannie Mae loan and $6.5 million from the city of Charlotte's Housing Trust Fund and NOAH Trust Fund. Roof Above also got $8 million in private donations and a $600,000 innovation grant from Local Initiatives Support Corp. LISC has been working with the city and private groups to help expand affordable housing and support services. 

Since Roof Above has not traditionally been in the rental business, it's working with another partner, Ascent Real Estate Capital. The company helped put together the deal and will manage the property for Roof Above.  

Nobody will lose their homes in the deal. New tenants will be phased in over the next couple of years through turnover, said Clasen-Kelly. The deal calls for most of the units to remain income-restricted for 27 years. They'll be reserved for people who make less than 80% of the area median income -- about $63,000 for a family of four. 

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