Need for affordable housing increases as availability decreases, Meck County reports

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County is seeing a heightened need for affordable housing and a decline in its availability.

More than 3,200 people are experiencing homelessness as of October 2022, which is an increase of 3% from the previous year , according to a report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability and Homelessness.

Low-cost rentals are dropping, too.

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The number of apartments with rent under $800 dropped from 45% of the county’s inventory in 2011 to 13% of rentals in 2022, according to the report.

“I think one of the things is really trying to focus on, how do we bring back more of that low-to-moderate income housing so that these families are able to stay in their homes?” said Tameka Gunn, the president and CEO of Community Link, an affordable housing group.

People’s incomes are not keeping up with the price of rent in the Queen City.

The Mecklenburg County report shows that 47% of renters are spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

Gunn also pointed out a growing need to help people stay in their homes through difficult times.

“I am a huge, a huge proponent of eviction prevention,” she said. “And the reason I say that is because if someone is already housed in a unit, and they had a setback, they need to get over that hump.”

County Commissioner Pat Cotham moved to Charlotte in the 1980s and has seen the city grow immensely.

“It used to be years ago, you didn’t see people struggling in certain areas and more fluid areas, but a lot of the people in those areas now are, ‘What’s going on?’” Cotham said.

Cotham said affordable housing has been a priority.

“We have really worked better with the city and with nonprofits, and work with the corporate community to try to have more of a collaboration to solve this problem, or to improve this problem,” she said.

Cotham stresses it is a complex problem, which encompasses a lag in wages, transportation issues, and the high cost of land.

There’s no one size fits all answer, but help is available, she said.

“We have been trying to expand our services and geographical areas,” Cotham said. “So we have resource centers, not just in the Uptown area, but a little farther out.”

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