Local companies pledge more than $70M to help combat affordable housing crisis

Local companies pledge more than $70M to help combat affordable housing crisis

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte's affordable housing crisis got a major boost Tuesday thanks to three local financial institutions.

Channel 9 learned Ally Financial, Bank of America and Barings stepped in by pledging more than $70 million in contributions to help Charlotte residents who are struggling to find affordable housing.

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Bank representatives said teaming up with one another allows the financial institutions to find creative solutions to the crisis.

Officials said the bulk of the funds will be divided several ways, with millions placed into housing bonds and projects to create new housing.

Most of the money will go to low-interest loans for developers. The loans will save developers millions, giving them an incentive to build affordable housing for struggling families.

Ali Summerville, with Ally Financial, said, "What we want to do is be a real role model to the rest of the community and give other companies an opportunity to think creatively about how to solve this problem."

The rest of the $70 million will go into Charlotte's Housing Opportunity Fund and into land donations.

City leaders discussed affordable housing in depth during a Monday night meeting.

Voters approved a $50 million bond for affordable housing in November’s elections, and now, the Charlotte City Council is starting to take a look at how that money is going to be spent.

The city of Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services director said there is already more than $50 million in proposed projects.

Of that money, $22.1 million is being requested by developers to put projects on city-owned land.

If the council provides all of the funding to those projects on city land, 620 units would be able to be built, and 116 of them would be made available for the lowest income residents.

The contributions follow a call for help from Mayor Vi Lyles in 2018.

Lyles asked voters to pledge $50 million to affordable housing in April, but she said it would only truly help if the private sector also stepped in.

“We’ve talked about this a lot and now we’re just happy it’s time to get to action and make this work,” said Summerville.

In 2018, the average Charlotte apartment clocked in at more than $1,140 per month.

Barings' Daron Tubian said, "The city grows an average of 2.5% a year, so people coming into this city, a good percentage of those people need affordable housing."

The donors think their contributions will finance more than 2,000 units.

It falls far short of the city’s need for 24,000 affordable units, but it’s still a start.

Summerville said, “We want to be part of this city that we all think is so great. We want to show the rest of the country and the rest of the world that we can put our money where our mouth is and do great things.”

This is the largest commitment for affordable housing Channel 9 has seen so far from the private sector.

In the summer of 2018 Wells Fargo announced it would give $20 million to affordable housing.

Crescent Communities also said it would donate land for affordable housing in the future River District near the airport and the Catawba River.

Residents continue to go to council members to say affordable housing is a priority issue, which they are watching closely.

“Someone who is making minimum wage, they can work here, but they can't live here,” Charlotte resident Darlene Green said.

City Council also approved new guidelines for where affordable housing units can be built during Monday's meeting. Leaders want to make sure new affordable units aren't all concentrated in one part of the city.

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