ULI Charlotte News

RECAP: Affordable Housing Conversation Series

RECAP:  Affordable Housing Conversation Series

On July 13, 2017, ULI Charlotte members gathered to discuss Affordable Housing.  Below are some notes from the first conversation.

The goal of these conversations is to coordinate efforts around affordable housing.  ULI Charlotte asked, “where is our space in the affordable housing conversation?”  Our focus is to communicate the importance and benefits of workforce and affordable housing.  These discussions are intended to share what’s happening in the community, what are some opportunities, and what are some of the faces and numbers of the people we are trying to address?

Laying the Groundwork for the Conversation:  Many people have preconceived notions about affordable housing.  Make sure that you try to address those preconceived notions every time you have the opportunity. It’s our responsibility to keep that awareness alive.  Think about what is your story, what misconceptions have you come across?

City of Charlotte Initiatives:  The City Council has a heightened sense of urgency around affordable housing after the Scott shootings.  City Council held a meeting October 3, 2016 and three things came out of that:

  • Public safety, trust and accountability
  • Quality, affordable housing
  • Good paying jobs

Council already had a goal of 5,000 in 5 years, and Council accelerated that goal to 5,000 units in 3 years.  The goal is to create 5,000 units–not just build new ones.

Building upon the 10 Traits of Winning Cities of Tomorrow, one trait is affordable spaces and meeting the rising demand for affordable housing.  Charlotte is growing fast.  44 new residents per day to become a city of 1.2 million by 2040.  When we think of who needs affordable housing, many of our colleagues are those who need affordable housing.

  • 39% of units completed through City programs
    • Housing Trust Fund
    • House Charlotte Down Payment Assistance
    • Safehome (Housing rehabilitation)
      • Habitat is a partner here
      • Preserve affordable housing stock
      • CDBG and housing trust fund
    • Lead Safe
    • Targeted Rehabilitation
    • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
      • Primarily with the men and women’s shelters
      • Partnership with FFTC for A Way Home
    • Non-Profit Partnerships
  • Terwilliger Center of ULI came last year to provide affordable housing strategies
    • Recommendations were regulatory and financial. Recommendations included:
      • Bring new public and private resources to bear on creating supply
      • Create new and consistent incentives for mixed income development
      • Maximize mixed-income development through public real estate
      • Ensure preservation of existing workforce and affordable units
      • Use zoning and land use regulations to incentivize mixed income housing (we have a voluntary density bonus program, but it hasn’t’ been used, so they are looking at why it doesn’t work and what they can do to make it work)
      • Communicate the importance and benefits of workforce and affordable housing

To view the ULI Terwilliger Report, click here.

The face of affordable housing:  The rule of thumb is that housing is affordable if a family spends no more than 30% of their income to live there.  In Mecklenburg county, 33% or 130,173 households are cost-burdened.  Overcrowded is when we have too many people living in one place (e.g. multiple families in one unit).  There is substandard housing that we are rehabilitating older housing stock.

The average rent in Charlotte is $1,363 (across all building class types new, aging, etc.).  Rental costs are increasing while incomes aren’t keeping pace.

  • AMI scale
    • 0 – 30% (<$21,210 for a family of 4) the extremely low-income. Usually solved through vouchers
    • 30-50% ($21,210-35,350 for a family of 4) very low income
    • 50-80 ($35,350-$56,560) low income
    • 80-100 ($56,560-$70,700) start getting to middle income.

We need housing.  We need to be sensitive to housing needs of people who are homeless and chronically homeless, but we also need housing for those who are employed.  Who do we want as our neighbors or are we trying to push people outside of our neighborhoods? There is a consequence to not providing enough workforce housing in our community. Need to put a face on who we are trying to provide affordable housing.

Understanding Density:  When people think about density they think about properties crammed on a site. All too often we hear that it’s too dense, we don’t want it.  It’s not about the density it’s about the perception of density. Need to talk about the reality of what we are offering to the community, not the perception.

Next Steps

After our meeting, we have heard three distinct areas of interest:

  • Making the finances work (how it works, capital stack, financing options)
  • Case studies of Affordable and Workforce Housing, in the region
  • Conversation information and making the case for Affordable and Workforce Housing (building upon our conversation today – include how do we get the word out to the public officials, community, on density and the face of affordable housing)

A bonus link – if we want to get more information on a national level, ULI is hosting the Housing Opportunity Conference – https://www.magnetmail.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?recipient_id=2520912663&message_id=14427180&user_id=ULI_MA&group_id=0&jobid=37891650

A special thanks to Pam Wideman – City of Charlotte, Laura Belcher – Habitat for Humanity and Bridget Grant – Moore & Van Allen, for leading this first meeting with good information.  We appreciate the enthusiasm today and look forward to making an impact on this important topic.  The next conversation will be held on August 17, 2017.  Please register at http://charlotte.uli.org/event/affordable-housing-conversation-2/ .

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