County commissioners-elect start to tackle affordable housing issue

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Days before they’re even sworn in, soon-to-be Mecklenburg County commissioners were already trying to tackle the issue of affordable housing, which has spread beyond the city of Charlotte.

“It’s a regional issue that we have to address. It’s not going to go anywhere,” said Mark Jerrell, Mecklenburg County commissioner-elect for District 4.

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The problem of affordable housing is obvious in historic neighborhoods like NoDa where older, traditional homes are being torn down with new once being constructed. Many families are being priced out.

“We’re pushing people farther and farther away from their jobs. We don’t have an effective transportation system,” said Peter Kelly, a community advocate who works with several organizations. The county commission has never taken an active role with affordable housing, and it’s time for that to change, Kelly said.

“Right now, (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) has a lot of excess land in places that would be great for development for affordable housing, but the county commissioners, historically, have held them accountable for selling at the highest price possible,” Kelly said.

Susan Harden, who will represent District 5, which is the South Park area, said there needs to be options at different price points for families all over the county.

“It’s critical that areas like south Charlotte stay affordable for teachers and firemen and retail workers,” Harden said.

None of the four incoming commissioners have been elected before. They know this issue will be a challenge that will take time.

“It’s going to take years, but the beginnings are already happening,” said Susan Rodriguez-McDowell, elected to serve District 6.

[CLICK here for more information on affordable housing]

Commissioners plan to continue meeting with community stakeholders and get as much information as possible, before developing a plan similar to the city’s plan. They told Channel 9 it will be a community effort to solve the problem.

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