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Seeking Solutions | Public transit's role in affordable housing

Charlotte-based Community Link believes a robust transit system can lead to more access to affordable housing units and job opportunities throughout the city.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As another luxury apartment complex is announced in South End, Charlotte's affordable housing crisis continues to grow -- though affordable housing advocates argue public transit could be a solution.

The luxury apartment complex is expected to be built at the corner of South Tryon Street and West Tremont Avenue, which makes it the latest project in an area spurred into development as a result of the Lynx Blue Line light rail.

Floyd Davis is CEO of Community Link, a Charlotte affordable housing nonprofit, and he said Charlotte residents have an opportunity to demand affordable housing, with help from the city's "2040 Plan."

RELATED: 'Our city is changing' | Charlotte City Council approves 2040 plan in 6-5 vote

"We are attracting investments from all over the world and so I can't blame the investors," Davis said. "It's an opportunity for them."

He said a more robust public transportation system like the proposed Lynx Silver Line light rail could solve some affordable housing problems though he said community groups want to avoid a repeat of what happened with the light rail in South End.

"We want to make sure along the Silver Line, we set aside some opportunities for the development of affordable housing," Davis said.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg's State of Housing Instability and Homelessness Report, between 2020 to 2021, government leaders and nonprofits added more beds to quickly re-house families who lost their homes.

However, the share of the county’s housing that's considered "low-cost" dropped from 45% in 2011 to 22% in 2019.

Davis said buses, light rails, and streetcars could help service workers more affordably travel to places like Uptown and South End.

"We need them to come in to do those critical jobs in our job centers to support the workers that are in those job centers," Davis said.

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.