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Protesters demand accountability from corporate landlords: 'Housing is a human right'

Protesters say North Carolina's corporate landlords are gobbling up affordable housing, driving up rent prices and pushing low-income residents out.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dozens of people confronted Charlotte corporate landlords demanding affordable housing as rent prices continue to skyrocket in the Queen City. 

Protesters gathered outside the office of Invitation Homes, a corporate landlord that manages properties in the Charlotte area to say they're angry and fed up with rising rent prices and subpar maintenance standards.

"Housing is a human right," the group chanted, demanding fair housing. "We won't leave, we won't leave."

The renters caused a commotion, catching the attention of many people, as well as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. 

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"The problem is growing and if we sleep on this it's going to be like 15 years ago, with thousands of people without housing," Erick Exum, the national director of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, said. 

Attendees say North Carolina has a corporate landlord problem. The group says these property firms gobble up houses, preventing first-time homebuyers from having a chance. Some say there are poor living conditions at rentals, which burden tenants. 

"Our rent keeps increasing lease after lease," Jake Limberger said. "It's unfair and unjust."

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

Rising rent prices have displaced many people. 

"We were pushed out of Charlotte due to greedy corporations," Jessica Moreno, a community organizer for Action NC, said. 

Advocates are calling for a 3% cap on rent increases and a grievance procedure. So far, their requests have gone unanswered, according to Exum. 

"They're widening the wealth disparity gap in Black and Latin communities through greed and it's absolutely unacceptable," Exum said. 

As for the staff at Invitation Homes, the company locked its doors and didn't address the protesters. WCNC Charlotte's request for a statement has gone unanswered so far. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.

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