Finding Home

Charlotte has an affordable housing crisis. We hear that a lot and for good reason. Consider these numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau: Since 1990, home values have increased 36%, while median household income has only gone up 4%. The appearance of prosperity with new development masks the fact that people are being priced out of their neighborhoods.

The city has made some progress in the last few years. It’s added about 5,000 affordable housing units. But there’s still a shortfall — a Mecklenburg County analysis showed a gap of at least 43,000 affordable housing units for renters making less than 50% of the area median income

WFAE is taking a look at this problem through our series Finding Home. Every other Monday in 2020, we’ll have stories that examine the problem, seek solutions, and bring you stories from neighborhoods small and large, both in and outside Charlotte.


The power of zoning and regulations to encourage or squelch affordable housing was a theme that came up repeatedly Thursday at a Building the Dream housing forum in Charlotte.

Parking lots at Lake Arbor Apartments are empty and the apartments are vacant after the owners ordered everyone out to prepare for renovations - and apparently a sale.
David Boraks / WFAE

All but one tenant has moved out of the run-down Lake Arbor Apartments in west Charlotte after the owners ordered everyone out to make way for renovations. But a legal battle with the landlords continues, and tenants last week won a round — just as it appeared the complex was about to be sold to new investors.

Da'Monique Leggett is getting housing help and career training through a new program that tries to improve outcomes for students by supporting their families.
David Boraks / WFAE

Here's a No. 1 ranking you don't want: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leads North Carolina with the largest population of homeless students — more than 4,700 last year. A new program by two Charlotte agencies aims to help some of those students by getting their families into stable housing and higher-paying jobs.


Eight years ago, a dramatic symbol of Charlotte’s quest to fight homelessness opened. It was called Moore Place, an apartment building that provided homes for 85 people who had spent years on the street.

As a new decade dawns, plans are afoot to try it again in a new site. Looking back at the victories, setbacks and lingering challenges provides a hint at the future.

Charlotte skyline
James Willamore / Flickr / ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We are beginning the second year of our affordable housing series, Finding Home. In 2019, we had a story nearly every Monday on the Charlotte area’s affordable housing crisis. In 2020, Finding Home airs every other Monday on "Morning Edition," And we start with today’s guest, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles.

Nicole Seekely chairs the Hulsey Yard Study Committee in Atlanta, where neighbors support redevelopment of a big vacant rail yard, including affordable housing.

A frequent obstacle to developing affordable housing is NIMBY, which stands for "not in my backyard." Neighbors bombard elected officials with concerns about traffic, crime and demand on city services as they try to halt new developments. Often, they succeed in blocking developments.

But in some cities, there's now a growing pro-development movement called YIMBY — for "yes in my backyard." 


Hidden Valley Elementary School serves a small northeast Charlotte neighborhood just off Interstate 85. But every morning’s car line includes taxis and shuttles bringing children from much farther away.

Quinn Kampschroer / Pixabay

With the colder weather, the need for shelter space to help the homeless is greater this time of year.

Gwen Sherrill and her great-grandson, Cali Williams, 3, pose on the porch of her home on Potts Street in Davidson. She recently got $18,000 worth of repairs with help from the town and Our Towns Habitat for Humanity.
David Boraks / WFAE

Affordable housing efforts across the Charlotte region often focus on building new homes. But the city of Charlotte and surrounding towns increasingly are working to preserve existing housing so it's not lost to gentrification.

Jasmine Johnson and her family now have a rental house in west Charlotte.
David Boraks / WFAE

One of Charlotte's biggest housing stories this year has been the effort to find homes for hundreds of displaced residents at Lake Arbor apartments in west Charlotte.

West Side Community Land Trust staff and board members tossed dirt to start the project.
David Boraks / WFAE

The West Side Community Land Trust has broken ground for its first home as part of a long-term plan to fight gentrification in west Charlotte. It's a small step toward a goal of establishing 50 long-term, affordable units in the area — on land the community owns.

Charlotte Talks host Mike Collins talks with Vanessa Phillips (center) and Stephanie Little during a public conversation on affordable housing at the Gantt Center last week.
Jeff Cravotta / WFAE

All this year, we’ve brought you stories each Monday that look at the Charlotte area’s affordable housing crisis. Our Finding Home series has had stories that examine the scope of the problem and what’s being done about it. There have been stories of hope, and stories of despair.

Jeff Cravotta

Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

How do we help Charlotte's most vulnerable residents? Queen City voters said "yes" last year to a $50 million bond that would ease the city's lack of affordable housing. What's happened since then? We bring you a special "Charlotte Talks" Public Conversation about where affordable housing stands now. 


Hidden Valley Elementary School serves a small northeast Charlotte neighborhood just off Interstate 85. But every morning’s car line includes taxis and shuttles bringing children from much farther away.


WFAE has spent a lot of time looking at the pressures around the availability of affordable housing as part of our series Finding Home. This week, we’re turning our attention to another part of that equation — income.

Platform Lofts are under construction on North Tryon Street, across from the Old Concord Road light rail station. Rents will be $600 to just over $1,000 a month. They're being developed by affordable housing developer NRP Group of Cleveland. (David Boraks
David Boraks / WFAE

A report out last month from Mecklenburg County is chock full of numbers that describe the housing pressures facing renters in and around Charlotte. 

A homeless man sleeps in a bus shelter on East Trade Street during last May's Speed Street Festival uptown.
David Boraks / WFAE

A new report from Mecklenburg County calls for more coordination and resources devoted to helping those most at risk of losing their homes.

Uptown Charlotte is seen Sept. 20, 2019, from Suttle Avenue.

Charlotte is facing an affordable housing crisis. Both the city and Mecklenburg County are growing, and as more people move in, the housing supply is dwindling. Lower-income families are hit the hardest.

Charlotte Housing Authority manages the federal Section 8 housing voucher program.
Courtesy of Charlotte Housing Authority

Last spring, as part of our weekly Finding Home series, WFAE reported on problems with the federal Section 8 housing voucher program in Mecklenburg County. Vouchers help pay rent and utilities for qualifying low-income residents. But the county doesn't have enough vouchers to go around, and fewer landlords are taking them.  Charlotte Housing Authority manages the program and is trying to improve the situation.

Amy Anderson lives in northwest Charlotte with her son, Aaron, 13. Their business AnderBerry Bracelets is their main income source, and making the monthly rent is a struggle.
David Boraks / WFAE

Mecklenburg County's annual report on homelessness and housing instability shows that despite some progress, the need for lower-cost housing continues to rise in the Charlotte region. The new numbers are a reminder of just how acute the shortage remains, especially for residents at the low end of the income spectrum.