9 Investigates

9 Investigates: New program makes housing more affordable for teachers, first responders

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — They protect our neighborhoods and help our children learn, but many of our police officers, teachers and firefighters can’t afford to live in the communities they serve.

Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos discovered a new effort to make Charlotte’s housing crisis more affordable for them and how it has already changed one teacher’s life.

T’Kia Isom teachers 10th grade biology at Vance High School, but in her two years with CMS, Isom quickly learned a lesson herself -- the teaching profession is rich in rewards, but money is not one of them.

Allison asked Isom if she could afford to buy a house in Charlotte on her teaching salary alone and she said no.

“Everything we’re supposed to do, I was doing. But I still I wasn’t able to continue on with the American Dream of buying a house, living life and enjoying life to the fullest so it was very frustrating to not be able to afford living on my own,” Isom said.

To make ends meet and save, Isom said she made the difficult decision to move back in with her parents.

Isom was looking for a safe neighborhood with a low crime rate and an easy commute to work. She said it was everything she wanted, but couldn’t afford.

Realtor Lori Randolph said that is a struggle she sees way too often.

“They are fighting against so many obstacles,” Randolph said. “They are fighting against other people who have been pre-approved for more, but also investors who are honing in on the Charlotte market.”

But, for teachers like Isom and first responders, there is help to buy homes across Mecklenburg County.

In November, the city of Charlotte, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership launched the Community Heroes Homeownership program, offering teachers and first responders $30,000 down pay assistance grants.

“If you’re within that 150 pricepoint range or below, it is really hard to be able to come and be competitive if you don’t have that extra from down-payment assistance,” Randolph said.



  • Branch Banking and Trust Company
  • First Bank
  • First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company
  • HomeTrust Bank
  • Self-Help Credit Union
  • Southern Trust Mortgage
  • SunTrust
  • Uwharrie Bank

Lenders are approved for the Community Heroes Homeownership Program and HouseCharlotte Program. These lenders are also Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta members. Please note: Loan officers must complete HouseCharotte training to access this program for buyers


Isom did not hesitate to ask for and accept the help and hopes others won’t be too prideful to do the same. In December, she closed on a home -- a place she is proud to call her own.

“I have been waiting on that moment for a very long time,” Isom said. “If you work hard, you deserve to live comfortably and be happy.”

Eligible teachers and first responders must have household incomes of 80.01 to 120 percent of the area median income.

To give you an example, this means a family of four could make between $63,201 and $94,800 to qualify.

The grant has $500,000 available, but city leaders hope when that runs out banks will offer more.

This is also not the only housing program the city offers. Residents can call 704-336-3380 or click here for more information.