Elder Response Initiative helping seniors living in Charlotte areas affected by gentrification

Elder Response Initiative helping seniors living in Charlotte areas affected by gentrification

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Neighbors in the University Park community off Beatties Ford Road say they are approached regularly by people who want to buy their homes.

They say this is due to gentrification. They claim people want to come and buy their homes for less so they can turn a profit.

“I get phone calls and these cards in the mail of people wanting to buy my home,” Homeowner Donna Fant said. “They’ll call like they are my friend - Hi Donna, I’m interested in buying your home and I usually tell them my house in not for sale.”

Fant says a house down the street from her sold for nearly $250,000, but that is not the price someone offered her.

“He wanted to give me $68,000 for my house,” Fant said. “And I’m like if you can give me $250,000 - I will be glad to give it to you.”

Alesha Brown is a lawyer and a concerned neighbor. She wants this type of behavior to stop. She is founder of For The Struggle, Inc. It is an organization that tackles issues that impact the African American community. She has created an initiative called The Elder Initiative to address gentrification.

“Gentrification is one thing,” Brown said. “Pushing people out is another.”

Brown has organized a team of lawyers, financial planners, real estate agents and others to go door to door Jan. 20 to offer seniors help with dealing with aggressive buyers.

“We want to make sure that if people are in situations, seniors in particular, where they feel the need to sell their home because perhaps they’re back on taxes - perhaps they have some major repairs that need to be done at their home," Brown said. "They’re so many resources out there that can help them with these types of core issues that people just don’t know about.”

Brown is looking for more volunteers to help with this initiative. It will take place Jan. 20 on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Brown says there will be training right before the volunteers go out.

“The idea is not to ask them a lot of information,” Brown said. “But to ask them very open ended questions, very broad questions - are you having any issues that we can help you address.”

Brown believes city and county government leaders should help with this effort.

“Yes I do believe that government can be doing more,” Brown said. “But I also believe that it’s my responsibility to step in and make sure that we are protecting our community, preserving our culture, and the same people we’ll be serving. I stand on their shoulders.”

This initiative of going door to door to help seniors with aggressive buyers will travel to other parts of Charlotte that are dealing with gentrification. There is no quota to meet, Brown just wants to help.

“Whether by the end of the year we have done that for five people, or we have done that with 50 people - we’re still making great strides towards that ultimate goal,” Brown said.

Fant believes this initiative will help save communities.

“I think that it keeps the character of the community,” Fant said. “And there are still families here who were here from the very beginning and I think they want to stay there because nobody wants to move around.”

If interested in volunteering for Elder Response Initiative you can reach out to Alesha Brown at alesha@forthestruggleinc.com or to find more information go to www.forthestuggleinc.org.

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