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Charlotte leaders host conference to brainstorm solutions for housing, labor shortages

The Housing and Jobs Summit included developers, employers, and researchers to discuss Charlotte's affordable housing problem and labor shortage.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte City Council is hosting a two-day Housing and Jobs Summit to strategize how to tackle the area's housing and labor shortage.

Rent and home prices skyrocketed over the last few years and available housing can’t keep up with the number of people moving to Charlotte. City leaders are hoping to tackle these growing pains with help from the community.

On the first day of the summit, officials heard from researchers, developers, and employers to get a better picture of the issues at hand. 

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Yongqiang Chu, the director of UNC Charlotte's Childress Klein Center for Real Estate, shared research that detailed how bad the lack of housing has gotten in Charlotte since the pandemic.

"The number of housing units being built each year is significantly less than the number of households that are moving to this area,” Chu explained.

He said that 2020 and 2021 set Charlotte back 10,000 housing units. The lack of new homes led to limited supply and high demand, meaning even higher prices. Chu's research shared data that showed median house prices in the Charlotte area increased 54% from January 2020 to September 2022.

Chu added that during the pandemic more than 60% of houses on the market were sold above the listing price in an average of three days. The spike in pricing means that according to Chu, 80% of Charlotteans cannot afford the median home price here.

It's an issue Jessica Moreno with Action NC has faced firsthand. Her family was forced to move to Gastonia when they couldn't find a house to buy near Charlotte. 

"I myself am displaced from Charlotte," Moreno told WCNC Charlotte. "I work in Charlotte, I fight for people in Charlotte, but I no longer live in Charlotte.” 

Moreno would like to see more anti-displacement programs and limits on corporate landlords' buying power to level the playing field for families like hers. 

"We see a huge number of corporate landlords buying up communities and not giving people a chance to become owners,” Moreno said. 

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To tackle the housing shortage, Chu said more houses simply need to be built.  

The summit is also taking a look at the labor shortage. Laura Ullrich with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said Charlotte’s employment numbers are high, but there’s a labor shortage because people are changing where they work. 

“People have left difficult, stressful jobs that typically don’t pay a whole lot for jobs where they can make the same money or more that are less stressful,” Ullrich explained. 

The shift has left gaps in fields like public education and customer service. Ullrich said employers will have to get creative to fill vacancies. 

The presentations given on day one of the Housing and Jobs Summit are leading up to day two – when city council will take everything they’ve heard and strategize on the policy and funding choices they'll make in 2023 to address Charlotte’s housing and labor shortage.

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram 


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