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Charlotte developer puts people before profits with new approach to affordable housing

Deborah Simpson is taking a unique approach to affordable housing and helping a nonprofit at the same time.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A well-known Charlotte developer is losing money and for a good reason.

Tim Sittema is taking a unique approach to affordable housing and helping a nonprofit at the same time.

“It was a blessing just like the street says," Simpson said pointing to the street sign at the front of her new neighborhood.

Simpson has lived in Charlotte all her life, and now she rents an apartment on a road called Blessing Street, but she faced an uphill climb before finding the Evoke Living Community.

"The place I was living at didn’t take vouchers any longer from section eight," Simpson said. "I had a month to get out."How tough is it to find affordable housing in Charlotte? It’s like pulling teeth, it’s so bad." 

Tim Sittema is the Managing Partner at Crosland Southeast, the group that built the Evoke Living community after he felt spurred to take action.

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"There were a couple of business guys and I that were really moved, deeply hurt by the study that listed Charlotte 50th out of 50 in terms of upward mobility," Sittema told WCNC Charlotte. 

So far they’ve built 500 units and handed them over to Freedom Communities, a nonprofit in West Charlotte that believes in tackling housing, education and other big issues all at once to improve entire communities.

Freedom Communities then rents the apartments out at an affordable rate.


"It's pretty unheard of and should set the precedent of what we can be," Executive Director Hannah Beaver explained. "Tim, his heart is in this work and it's incredible to see him put his money where his heart is."

"We said we were going to try to break even, it took us five years to get to the break-even point but we wouldn’t change a thing," Sittema added. "We're committed to the work, it's incredibly difficult but also incredibly rewarding."

Sittema said hearing gratitude from people like Simpson is the reason he does it.

"Well, that’s what it's all about – that’s what it all about- that’s why we do it," he said.

Another 500 units are in the works with construction already underway

Contact Michelle Boudin at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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