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Charlotte leaders discuss ways to keep the city affordable to live in

The problem this region is facing is three-fold: A high demand for housing, not enough housing and rising prices.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte leaders are seeking solutions to the affordable housing crisis

The problem this region is facing is three-fold: A high demand for housing, not enough housing and rising prices.

Charlotte City Council held its two-day Housing and Jobs Summit on Monday and Tuesday.

The summit allowed council members to discuss opportunities, recommendations and plans for housing and jobs alongside partners from various organizations.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out is: [Are] there pathways for people to get skills that pay a decent wage that allows them to live in a safe and decent house," Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said.

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On Tuesday, Charlotte leaders decided to prioritize two areas of the housing crisis. 

First off, they discussed increasing the for-sale inventory of single-family homes that would be affordable to households at the 60-80% area median income level. 

“I like the homeownership model because, instead of paying somebody’s rent, you create a path for them to ownership and self-sufficiency,” District 7 Charlotte City Council Member Ed Driggs said. 

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Secondly, the leaders discussed supporting the production and preservation of affordable housing units. 

“The more we can keep people in affordable units, the less we have to build," Lyles said. 

The Peppertree Apartments in east Charlotte are a great example.

These units are naturally occurring affordable housing, which means it's housing with already low rents that may not stay affordable without government help. 

“What we can do is invest small amounts of money, much less than what we would have to pay to build a unit, and renovate and rehab to keep people in their homes,” Lyles said. 

A few months back, Charlotte City Council approved allocating $8 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to create rental assistance for the apartments.

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Still, there's a lot of work to be done. 

“It is not within the means of the city to just make this an affordable city," Driggs said. 

At the end of the summit, council members talked about creating change with different ideas including streamlining the zoning process, mitigating landlord risk, creating financial literacy and more private partnerships. 

Another part of housing security is job security, which council members also discussed. 

They want to focus on three priorities: 

  • Provide access to upskilling opportunities and technical certifications specific to Charlotte's target industries
  • Partner with employers to create training programs for the jobs of tomorrow to enable existing workers to move into new roles and scale up
  • Offer more public transit routes and options to Charlotte’s major business districts

One major opportunity coming is Atrium Health's new innovation district called The Pearl which will create more than 5,000 new jobs. 

It will be the future home to Wake Forest University School of Medicine Charlotte, shops, and office space. 

The groundbreaking is set for next week. 

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.  

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