$50M affordable housing referendum bond to be on November ballot

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte City Council cleared the way for voters to vote on a $50 million bond referendum this fall. This is expected to be a major step to bringing more affordable housing to Charlotte.

A public comment session began at 5 p.m. Monday in the council chambers to discuss the $223 million worth of Community Investment bonds.

“Affordable housing is an issue of faith and a moral responsibility,” Rabbi Judith Schindler told the city council.”

Officials said approximately $50 million would be designated to boost the Housing Trust Fund and help tackle Charlotte's affordable housing crisis.

Charlotte activists praised the city for putting the referendum on the ballot, but they expressed concern over how the money will be used

“The track record of how previous bonds have been spent does not fill us with hope and optimism,” housing supporter Angie Ford said.

“We are not addressing poverty if we are displacing and pushing poor people outside city limits,” housing supporter Bree Newsome said.

The rest of the money would be used to focus on transportation and neighborhood improvements.

The activists are asking city leaders to create an independent citizen advisory board to oversee how the money is spent.

The city said Charlotte needs 24,000 more affordable housing units. One in every three families spends at least 33 percent of its income on housing.

Experts said that percentage is too high.

The proposed bonds have received broad support across the city council. The bonds will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot seeking final public approval.

Prior to the public hearing, city leaders were briefed on a framework for how to tackle the affordable housing crisis.

They also voted to allow the manager to make a $3.1 million offer to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for the old Double Oaks property. The land could be redeveloped into affordable housing one day, officials said.

Activists told the council that, no matter what happens with the bond, it is just the beginning

“We have an opportunity to make a phenomenal difference among the citizens of this divided city,” the Rev. Amantha Barbee, a housing supporter, said.

Over the next couple of months, CMS and the county will consider city council's offer for the property. If the school district and the city reach an agreement, the council will be able to approve a contract by Sept. 18.

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