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Task force takes steps to solve affordable housing crisis

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte task force focused on helping the poor took one of its first steps on Thursday to solve the city's affordable housing crisis.

HousingCLT brought in a Nashville landlord, who found a way to house the homeless in his apartment buildings.

Channel 9 reported the solution could also require raising property taxes in Charlotte.

One of the first steps to the complex issue is getting apartment developers on board.

City leaders think the only way to house the homeless is to get 100 landlords to agree to give up 1 percent of their apartments.

"I've already got three landlords," Brian Huskey, with HousingCLT, said.

Huskey said he's still trying to find 97 other landlords who are willing to step up. He said the three who have don't have very many apartments.

"Each of them has between 10 and 30 units," he said.

It's a start, but that won't go far to help the nearly 1,500 homeless people in Charlotte.

Every time the city asks a large apartment developer to give up 1 percent of their units for the homeless,
they're asking them to miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars. They're also asking them to risk backlash from the paying residents who live next door.

"It's a leap of faith. It's like, what might this mean in my community? What might my other residents think?" said Ken Szymanski, with the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association.

It's a tough sell, but a Nashville landlord is already giving up his millions.

"We've been blessed by this industry to be very comfortable in our living, so you have to, I think, you're called to give back," apartment developer Kirby Davis said.

He said the responsibility of solving the affordable housing shortage also falls on everyone else in Charlotte.

Davis told Channel 9 the city will also need to raise property taxes to come up with millions of dollars. That money would be used for vouchers to help landlords cover the cost of keeping the homeless in new homes.

Huskey said the stakes couldn't be higher.

"It's a pretty sure bet that if people that frail stay out on the streets, they're going to die," he said.

While it's still early, Huskey said they hope to start moving the first homeless people into new apartments within six months.

At this time, there's no word on when changing property taxes could enter the discussion.

The city is also trying to manage the affordable housing shortage by building 5,000 units in three years.

Rent for the average one-bedroom apartment costs $1,100 a month.

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