CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte's West Side, a predominately Black neighborhood, has seen plenty of changes, but members of the West Side Community Land Trust are working to trade that change for sustainability through the power of homeownership.
The West Side Community Land Trust was first created in 2017 to combat gentrification and displacement throughout West Charlotte.
“Through the community land trust model we’re able to make sure that we purchase land and we hold the land forever and ever in perpetuity so that there is always space and place for people who grew up in these neighborhoods and others like them," West Side Community Land Trust Executive Director Charis Blackmon said.
This option hopes to prioritize affordable homeownership so residents can escape the costly cycle of renting.
“You find a home, you have a rent set and then they say, 'Hey the rent is changing and you either change with it or you find somewhere else to go,'" neighborhood ambassador D'Asia Feaster said.
So far the land trust has bought 18 parcels of land for multi- and single-family homes in specific zip codes including -- 28208, 28216, 2817, and 28214. Then affordable homes are built on the property costing about $170,000. It's a price point that's nearly unheard of in the current Charlotte housing market.
Families can then own a home, earn equity, and the land stays under the ownership of the community.
"As the neighborhood continues to gentrify and shift and change and the property tax values are increasing -- which sometimes pushes people out -- our homebuyers are insulated," Blackmon said.
Moving forward the plan is to expand the land trust concept to other Charlotte neighborhoods that face gentrification and also create affordable commercial real estate and green space options.
“For me growing up in public housing to now being in this space to work to provide housing, it’s a blessing," West Side Community Land Trust Director of Real Estate and Construction RJ Harvey said.
There are over 300 land trusts across the nation including in Durham, Asheville and Cabarrus County.