Nonprofit helping solve Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis by saving, moving homes

CHARLOTTE — New houses are being built all over Charlotte and, in many cases, older, smaller homes get demolished to make way.

But there’s an effort underway to help solve the city’s affordable housing crisis by saving those homes -- and moving them. Anchor Allison Latos got an up-close look at how it works and who it’s helping.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Affordable Housing Crisis]

The owners of a property on Sunnybrook Drive want to get rid of the existing house and build a new one. But it won’t be torn down -- it’ll be move across town and become an opportunity for someone else.

R.J. Harvey is part of the West Side Community Land Trust, a nonprofit working to preserve and develop neighborhoods in four Charlotte ZIP codes by establishing permanent affordable housing.

“We’re just trying to keep up with this growth,” Harvey told Channel 9. “But also think about the heart and soul of the folks that’s here.”

The nonprofit is doing that by saving homes across the city that would otherwise be torn down.

Like a home they helped with on Hollis Avenue.

“We tried to reuse as much of the existing as we can into the location, but all the windows will be able to be saved,” Harvey said.

The process is complicated and time consuming. Crews take off the roof and then the exterior before jacking the home up on to the back of a flatbed trailer for a slow, 8-mile trip to Gilbert Street on Charlotte’s west side.

[CLICK HERE to learn more about the West Side Community Land Trust]

“Between land and material costs, there would be no way that we can afford to do this concept,” Harvey told Channel 9. “If we did not pick a house up and move it, yes. There are costs to it, but when compared to new construction, is significantly lower.”

About 40% lower, according to Harvey.

Once the homes are renovated, they’ll be sold to community members, like Tanisha Fant. She became a member of the trust and hopes to qualify for a mortgage to buy by the end of the year.

“I want something of my own,” she said.

Fant grew up on Charlotte’s west side but has struggled to find a house she can afford in this ultra-competitive market.

“If you don’t have the cash on hand to make that offer, it’s gone,” she said.

In choosing buyers, the West Side Community Land Trust gives priority to current west side residents. Family size determines which home a buyer qualifies for, and they must attend financial classes, learning about money management, credit, and how to fix your credit.

“When you own real estate, you own real estate in three ways,” Harvey said. “Below the ground, on the ground and above the ground. We’re holding on to on the ground, and they hold on to what’s above the ground.”

The nonprofit holds the land in trust to preserve it as an affordable option for future buyers. It’s a process that Fant said will finally allow her to move out of an apartment and into her very own home.

“I take pride in being a west side Charlottean,” she told Channel 9.

Currently, three homes are being moved to Charlotte’s west side, which benefits not just the future owners, but the previous ones when it comes to taxes and charitable contributions.

The nonprofit also builds houses, but the skyrocketing cost of supplies and labor makes re-using them the best option.

(WATCH LIVE: 9 Investigates: What’s driving Charlotte’s competitive housing market)