9 investigates: Some Charlotte residents feeling pressured to move by gentrification

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hattie Griffin loves her modest one-bedroom home in the Lakewood neighborhood, but she says others really want her house too.

Every day, by mail, by phone, even in person, someone is offering to buy her lot.

They’ve even become aggressive.

“To me, it's making me think, if they harass me long enough, I'll give up,” Griffin said.

Leondra Garrett, who lives around the corner from Griffin, is also feeling pressured to move.

She moved out of public housing and earned her home through Habitat for Humanity.

“I've had two gentlemen actually stop and offer me $250,000 for my house as is,” Garrett said.

She believes it's a sign of impending gentrification and wants to keep her community affordable.

“Moving in is not always bad, it's just who moves in and what their motive is for moving in,” Garrett said.

Lakewood is prime property less than 5 miles from uptown Charlotte with beautiful views of the skyline.

Neighbors are educating themselves about gentrification, and bringing in experts from areas that have already experienced it.

Gentrification is a process of renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents.

The phenomenon has already made its mark in parts of West End and NoDa where homes have been gutted and flipped, and some property values and taxes more than doubled or tripled pricing people out.

Channel 9 found a home just outside of uptown Charlotte that more than doubled in tax value from 2003 to 2017, going from $160,000 to $338,000, and sending property taxes up from $1,900 to $4,500.

Lakewood Neighborhood Alliance president Jamall Kinard said he wants to connect people to resources to help them keep their homes.

“Having ownership so we can dictate what happens and not just be victims of it,” Kinard said.

Mary Newsom of UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute said gentrification is more than just one thing, it's more complex than many people realize.

“It’s affordable housing, it’s wages, it’s transportation costs, all kinds of things come into play,” Newsom said.

More people than ever want to live in cities, but increased demand and limited space is a challenge that Charlotte is not in the best position to handle.

Other states, cities and counties can require a percentage of new developments to be set aside for affordable housing by law.

North Carolina law does not allow that.

City officials can offer developers incentives to keep rates affordable, but they can't make demands.

“They are looking to tear these old houses down,” Griffin said.

Griffin has lived in her home most of her life, and said despite the letters and phone calls, she plans on staying in her house.

“If God intends for me to leave, I know he's got something better, but I'm gonna stay put,” Griffin said.