Housing advocates call on city to keep track of displacement

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Days before dozens of Lake Arbor residents are being forced out of their homes, private property signs plaster the units and dumpsters are full of couches and mattresses.

[We want answers': Apartment residents forced to move get legal advice]

"I got boxes. I got papers to pack down my dishes," said Demetria Coulbourne, who has been a Lake Arbor resident for three years.

Coulbourne doesn't have to leave by Aug. 31, but she is being forced to vacate by the end of September.

She has no idea where she will be living in a little more than a month.

"I don't know what I am going to do," she said. "I think about that each and every day."

Displacement at that level is not new to Charlotte

In 2013, residents of the Silver Oak apartments on Monroe Road were ordered to move. The site is now home to luxury apartments, which are more expensive to rent than the previous property.

Robert Dawkins with the Housing Justice Coalition said the city of Charlotte needs to start tracking the amount of housing the city is losing in addition to gaining.

"We need to track displacement. The city has the ability to do it," he said. "Displacement is winning out over housing creation."

His group is now looking for future Lake Arbor-type situations. Warning signs are deplorable conditions, month-to-month leases and questionable corporations purchasing the property, Dawkins said.

United Way is attempting to raise $350,000 for Lake Arbor residents. As of Wednesday evening, $6,500 has been raised.

[United Way raising funds for residents forced out of problematic apartment complex]

Local legal advocacy groups urge residents at Lake Arbor Apartments to seek legal advice.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the North Carolina Justice Center are encouraging Lake Arbor residents to speak to an attorney, even if they don't think any legal remedies are available for them.

The organizations are offering free legal advice to Lake Arbor residents who have been told to move out, asked to sign a release or offered an incentive package from the rental company. Residents can call 919-856-2169 to discuss their options with an attorney.