CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Monday night, Charlotte City Council members unanimously approved a first-of-its-kind effort to help keep existing apartments affordable.
The pilot program is centered around the Lake Mist Apartments in south Charlotte.
The Lake Mist Apartments along Old Pineville Road are close to the light rail, have access to good schools, shops and jobs, but are also in an area at risk for gentrification. When developers said they might knock the apartments down and build something newer and charge much higher rents, the residents said they couldn’t afford it.
“The prices are already expensive as it is,” one neighbor said.
Officer Claudio Jiménez patrols the apartment complex every day as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Latino Outreach Specialist. It’s a booming area -- with rents increasing roughly 34% in the last 5 years.
“It’s grown dramatically, it’s exploded,” Jiménez said.
According to Jiménez, 90% of people who live in the complex are Latino and many of them struggle to make ends meet.
“We need to be able to provide these people with more resources,” he said. “They work long hours, they work two jobs to make ends meet,” he said.
The city has been working on a partnership to keep the apartments affordable for years to come. In September, city council approved taking more than $2.4 million from the Housing Trust Fund to help investors make improvements to the complex.
The county then agreed to use their share of property taxes, about $84,000, to subsidize rents.
Monday night, the city will consider doing the same for its portion of the tax bill -- about $53,000. That will help some of the poorest families who live in 44 of the 144 apartments pay their rent.
To qualify, a family of four would have to make less than $26,000 a year. The other units in the complex will have income restrictions and get subsidies as well.
“It would be a good idea to have that kind of program because it would be a benefit for us with rising prices,” a neighbor said.
Last week, a group of investors announced a $58 million housing impact fund. It’s aimed at saving 1,500 existing affordable apartments in Charlotte -- Lake Mist is the first of those.
The investors are focused on buying the complexes along South Boulevard, Monroe Road and Central Avenue. They’ll all remain affordable and targeted to families who make between $26,000 and $67,000 a year.
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