Charlotte City Council eyeing policy to require housing developments funded by city to accept vouchers

“it is a lack of participation by the landlords and property managers.”
The Great Neighborhoods Committee recommended the policy to the full city council during a committee meeting on Monday.
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2022 at 7:27 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte City Council is eyeing a change to allow people with housing vouchers the opportunity to find affordable housing in the city.

The Great Neighborhoods Committee recommended the policy to the full city council during a committee meeting on Monday.

This is one step closer in the process to create a policy that would require housing developments using city funds to accept ‘Housing Choice Vouchers’ and other forms of income.

Supporters believe this will reduce homelessness and help people find housing faster.

“That would be monumental for us in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County,” said Kenneth Robinson, President of Freedom Fighting Missionaries.

Currently, people with housing choice vouchers are waiting months to find housing, and some without any luck.

“As it sits right now, that is the current struggle, it’s not there’s a lack of housing, it is a lack of participation by the landlords and property managers,” Robinson said.

Kenneth Robinson with Freedom Fighting Missionaries says the problem is worse with new developments coming into the city with no plans to accept housing vouchers. He works with people formally incarcerated, helping them find housing.

His nonprofit currently has several vouchers and people trying to use them, but no landlord willing to accept them.

To help people in need of housing, Robinson has temporarily put families in apartments and hotels with money from the nonprofit as they wait on housing using the voucher.

“According to the statistics that are released from the COC, the Continuum of Care, over 80% of those individuals are Black, and over 80% of those people are true Charlotteans, which means they are born and raised here, those are the populations affected most by this,” said Robinson.

“We need every tool in our toolbelt to begin to address the issue,” Malcolm Graham, Charlotte City Councilmember said.

If the source of income policy is approved by city council, any housing developments that accepted city money would have to accept Housing Choice Vouchers and other legal sources of income by the tenant.

“Too many cases here in Charlotte and throughout the country individuals have been denied housing simply because the tenants would not accept those types of incomes and our vouchers,” Graham said.

“It’s our hope that this is just a continued demonstration of the city’s support for individuals in the community that are struggling with housing and this is our way to address something that we control as it comes to projects that the city fund either through our housing trust fund or other sourcing mechanisms,” Shawn Heath, Special Assistant to City Manager & Interim Director of Housing & Neighborhood Services said.

Freedom Fighting Missionaries believes it would make a big difference to the roughly 3,000 homeless in the city.

“A great percentage of those individuals currently have vouchers, qualify for vouchers, so right away if a new development came in and that rule was implemented, people would come off the streets, out the shelters, out of hotels and be able to have stable, safe housing,” said Robinson.

“All of it is really designed to do one of two things, help people find housing and or help them find it quicker,” Heath added.

The interim Director of Housing and Neighborhood Services tells WBTV the city is also exploring options for developments coming into the city without funding from the city.

This is the first step in this process so it’s not a final deal, but the hope is that council will approve it in the coming months.

Councilman Graham is cautiously optimistic it could happen by mid to late April.

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