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 percent, while median household income has only gone up 4 percent. 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 of roughly 24,000.

WFAE is taking a year-long look at this problem through our series, Finding Home. Every Monday in 2019, we’ll have stories that examine the problem, seek solutions, and bring you stories from neighborhoods small and large, both in and outside Charlotte.

Steve Harrison / WFAE

This is what gentrification often looks like: New $400,000 homes. Maybe a new coffee house. An influx of white people. But in Washington Heights, the early signs of gentrification have come in the mail.

Mecklenburg County’s new property assessments arrived last month, and homeowners in this northwest Charlotte neighborhood off Beatties Ford Road saw some of the largest percentage increases in the county.

Davidson Housing Coalition built The Bungalows on Davidson's West Side to provide affordable housing.
David Boraks / WFAE

As north Mecklenburg County and the Lake Norman area have grown over the past few decades, newcomers have brought higher incomes — and skyrocketing housing prices. That's a challenge for those who don't fit the area's new demographics — especially longtime residents in older African-American neighborhoods in Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. A new study has some leaders acknowledging they need to do more to create housing for lower-income residents.

The Opportunity Atlas allows you to look at economic mobility at the neighborhood level by parent's income, race, and gender. This map looks at mobility based on all races and men and women.
https://www.opportunityatlas.org/ / Opportunity Insights

The neighborhood around Kilborne Park in east Charlotte doesn’t look so different than those that surround it. It has a couple of apartment complexes and some wide streets lined with small, brick ranch-style homes, tri-levels and big trees. Its affordability, many homes are now priced around $200,000, attracted Tim McManus to the neighborhood ten years ago. 

Houses on South Hill Street in the Smithville neighborhood of Cornelius.
David Boraks / WFAE

A new study of north Mecklenburg County shows a need for more housing aimed at people making less than $40,000 a year. UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute looked at population growth, employment patterns and housing in the towns of Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville.

Charlotte Observer

A new study of north Mecklenburg County shows a need for more housing aimed at people making less than $40,000 a year.  

In 1993, when I first moved to Charlotte, I moved into an apartment in Dilworth. The rent was $385 a month.

I doubt you could rent a doghouse for that price in Dilworth now.

It’s not just our city’s fancy neighborhoods, though. All over Charlotte, we have a serious problem: Thousands upon thousands of people who work here and contribute to this community, can’t afford to live here anymore.

Alex Olgin / WFAE

It’s some of the most typical signs of gentrification: Multiple breweries, a gym, a few coffee shops, doggie daycare and a fancy convenience store that sells CBD products. All of those things are on North Davidson Street, north of Interstate 277. But rewind 32 years ago to July 1987.

DYLAN BINGHAM / HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY/2.0/

Last week, three big financial companies in Charlotte pledged $70.75 million to help the city remedy a lack of affordable housing. It includes below-market-rate loans, grants and something else the city desperately needs — land for affordable housing uptown.

Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE

Growth, development and gentrification have all contributed to the affordable housing shortage in Charlotte. As upscale apartment complexes and expensive homes are increasingly being built, low- and middle-income residents are being priced out of many neighborhoods. One example is the community of Cherry, where it’s now common for newer homes to sale for $700,000-$800,000, sometimes more.

Charlotte skyline.
Pixabay

Three of Charlotte’s largest financial corporations are planning to invest more than $70 million to increase the affordable housing stock in the city and its surrounding areas.

A longtime Charlotte housing expert has been named to lead private-sector efforts to spur development of affordable housing in the city. Ralphine Caldwell will start work in March as executive director of a new Charlotte office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC.

New homes under construction on South Bruns Avenue show how close Seversville is to Uptown.
David Boraks / WFAE

Growth and development have brought an affordable housing shortage in Charlotte. You can see it in neighborhoods all over the city, especially those closest to uptown. In WFAE's series Finding Home, we're examining those challenges every Monday in 2019.

Flickr/lexie.longstreet

Charlotte city leaders are fine-tuning changes to the policy the city uses to decide where new, subsidized low-income housing can and can’t be built.

City staffers last fall proposed a new “scorecard” system to rank proposed developments according to several criteria, such as proximity to public transportation, jobs and schools. 

Lisa Worf / WFAE

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 percent, while median household income has only gone up 4 percent. The appearance of prosperity with new development masks the fact that people are being priced out of their neighborhoods.

Renaissance West sits on 41 acres off West Boulevard where the Boulevard Homes housing project once stood.
David Boraks / WFAE

Charlotte leaders spent 2018 talking about how to speed up development of new affordable housing units and save existing ones. In 2019, there will be more money, new partners and new processes for achieving that goal. City leaders now are discussing how to carry out the unprecedented $125 million plan and what it's paying for.

Gracious Hands has moved from West Charlotte to a renovated house in north Charlotte it bought thanks to an anonymous donor.
David Boraks / WFAE

It's been a happy new year so far for the Charlotte transitional housing program Gracious Hands. Since the summer, the group home for formerly homeless women and children has fought eviction from its west Charlotte rental house. But now a donor has stepped in to buy them a new home.

CHARLOTTE MECKLENBURG HOUSING PARTNERSHIP

Construction has begun on a 185-unit mixed-income apartment project in west Charlotte. Officials say it could be a model for how Charlotte might spend $50 million in affordable housing bond funds approved by voters in November.

Sonja Chisholm runs Gracious Hands, a transitional housing program for homeless women and children. The program has lost its lease and is seeking a new home.
David Boraks / WFAE

A transitional housing program for homeless women and their children is fighting eviction from its rental house in northwest Charlotte, while also raising money to buy its own home. An update on Gracious Hands, as part of our ongoing series "Finding Home."

Lyn Alexis, 25, lives at Gracious Hands with her daughter, Iori, 5.
David Boraks / WFAE

Today, an update on a Charlotte housing story we’ve been following since March in our series "Finding Home."

Gracious Hands is a three-year-old program in northwest Charlotte that helps homeless women and children get back on track and into permanent housing. One of those women is Lyn Alexis, who was living out of her car with her daughter before moving to Gracious Hands.

David Boraks / WFAE

The path from homelessness to permanent housing is about more than just a place to live. For many people on that road, it's about achieving financial and personal stability.

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