CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The issue of affordable housing has been in the spotlight in the city of Charlotte in recent months and a new poll shows residents see it as a significant problem. Three-fourths of those surveyed in Mecklenburg County say it is very, or somewhat difficult to find affordable housing in the county.
"We found that affordable housing is an important issue for people," said Elon Poll Director Jason Husser. "People are aware that Charlotte does seem to have an affordable housing problem"
The poll was done by Elon University and sponsored WBTV and the Charlotte Observer. More than 600 registered voters were questioned over 5 days in mid-September.
Pollsters asked "How difficult do you think it is to find affordable and desirable housing in Mecklenburg County? Would you say it is very difficult, somewhat difficult, or not at all difficult? Overall, 33% said very difficult, 42% said somewhat, while 18% answered not at all difficult.
The issue appears to be more acute in the African American community, where 48% said it was very difficult to find affordable housing while just 13% said it wasn't difficult at all. Women also seem more concerned as 40% of those surveyed answered very difficult compared to 23% of men.
The poll asked a follow up question as to whether those questioned would support the development of low income housing in their neighborhood. Overall, 59% of Mecklenburg County residents said they would while 33% said no.
"We found that most people were open to the idea of having affordable housing in their neighborhood, but take that with a little bit of a grain of salt," said Husser. "This is just asking people over the phone. It's not actually saying there's going to be affordable housing built next to you. Sometimes people react very differently in real world events than they do in hypotheticals on the telephone."
The question found a sharp political and racial divide. 75% of Democrats said they would support low income housing in their neighborhood, 59% of Independents answered the same, but the number slipped to 39% for Republicans. Blacks support the idea 72 to 21%, while whites are more divided 49% said yes and 41% said no.
The city of Charlotte has pledged to increase the number of affordable housing units in the city. The issue came to the forefront in the wake of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting last September. Scott was killed outside his townhome by a CMPD officer. The shooting was found to be justified and no charges were filed, but the case sparked days of protest that at times turned violent.