1,000 People Show Up for 130 Affordable Apartments in Charlotte
Almost 1,000 people lined up to fill out an application for one of 129 reduced-rent units at a new apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina, in what Charlotte Agenda called “maybe the most telling single portrait of Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis yet.” The new building, called Mezzanine at Freedom, includes 185 units, with 72 units set aside for people earning up to 60 percent of Area Median Income, and 19 units each for people earning up to 80 percent, 50 percent, and 30 percent, according to the report. (Area median income in Charlotte is $79,000 for a family of four.) The complex was built on donated land, and funded partially by $4.5 million from the city’s Housing Trust Fund.
As Next City has reported, Charlotte has a shortage of 24,000 affordable-housing units for people earning less than half the AMI, and planners believe the metro area could welcome as many as 500,000 new residents over the next decade. A housing plan adopted a few years ago calls for prioritizing units for people earning up to 60 percent AMI, which the Mezzanine at Freedom project would seem to do. The Charlotte Agenda writer captured the frustration of the housing shortage. “When I heard about this place, that it was based on income, I was so happy,” one applicant told him. “But then to come out here and see this. It makes me want to cry, actually break down and cry.”
Congressional Squad Announces “People’s Housing Platform”
On Wednesday, a group of progressive members of Congress announced that they would pursue a “People’s Housing Platform,” incorporating at least seven different proposals that supporters say would end homelessness and establish housing as a human right. The platform was announced by U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), with support from the Center for Popular Democracy, People’s Action, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The proposals include items previously covered by Next City, including Ocasio-Cortez’s “Place to Prosper Act” and Omar’s “Homes Guarantee” plan. Other proposals would reinvest in public housing, replace the Opportunity Zone program with a Community Benefits Fund, increase funding for homelessness services, create tax credits for renters and first-time homebuyers, and combat real estate speculation, according to Curbed. Housing organizers have been building support for the policies included in the platform across the country for months. As Curbed wrote, “While there’s little chance the package of bills would pass the Senate this term, its proponents believe it’s important to put down markers for where progressive housing policy should go.”
Richmond Housing Authority Extends Eviction Freeze
The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority announced in a press release that it would extend its moratorium on eviction enforcement until the beginning of May, and starting in February, it will offer repayment agreements to all tenants for all types of debt owed to the authority. As Next City reported earlier this month, the authority implemented the freeze last fall amid concerns about an uptick in public-housing evictions. According to the press release, repayment agreements will be capped at 10 percent of a tenant’s income. “We recognize that some of RRHA’s previous debt collection efforts did not best position every RRHA family for success,” Damon Duncan, the authority’s CEO, said in the release. “This ‘no questions asked’ repayment option is designed to give every RRHA resident a chance to succeed, no matter what happened in the past.”
This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.
Jared Brey is Next City's housing correspondent, based in Philadelphia. He is a former staff writer at Philadelphia magazine and PlanPhilly, and his work has appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Landscape Architecture Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Philadelphia Weekly, and other publications.