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The Toll Of A Pandemic On Mecklenburg County's Housing Crisis

CMPD says the property owner asked to have this homeless encampment cleared Friday.
David Boraks
/
WFAE

For years, public and private efforts in Mecklenburg County have attempted to curb housing instability and homelessness. And for years, the problem has only gotten worse. Add the coronavirus pandemic to the equation, and many Charlotteans are being pushed to the brink.

According to a recent report from Mecklenburg County and UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute, Charlotte's affordable housing units are shrinking while the need continues to grow.

In 2010, about 50% of rental units were considered low cost. In the eight years since, the number of low-cost rentals has shrunk to 25%. The report says there’s nearly a 45,000-unit shortage for the county’s poorest residents. In addition, the homeless population has risen to over 3,000 this summer.

The report shows 44% of renter households in the county were "cost-burdened" in 2018, and a majority of these households are African American or Latino, groups that are also disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of both health and the economy.

The good news is the influx of emergency funding may be an opportunity for long-term recovery. As the pandemic forces our society to revealuate our norms, from education to work culture and health and housing, some consider this an opportunity to rejuvenate our affordable housing projects from the ground up.

We speak with the author of the report and those on the front lines of this ongoing crisis to find out where we stand and what can be done.

GUESTS

Bridget Anderson, Social Research Specialist from UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute

Courtney LaCaria, Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services

Carol Hardison, CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry

Ethiopia Williams, client of Crisis Assistance Ministry, experiencing job and housing instability during the coronavirus pandemic

Jesse Steinmetz is Assistant Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.