Charlotte City Council approves ordinance in hopes to ease affordable housing crisis

For months, WBTV has been reporting on the struggle many who have qualified for housing vouchers and rental subsidies are facing to find affordable places to live in Charlotte
For months, WBTV has been reporting on the inability, many who have qualified for affordable housing vouchers face -- finding a place to live.
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 9:46 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte City Councilmembers voted to approve a measure that would prevent certain landlords and property owners from discriminating against potential tenants based on their source of income.

For months, WBTV has been reporting on the struggle many who have qualified for housing vouchers and rental subsidies are facing to find affordable places to live in Charlotte.

The Source of Income Protections motion passed Monday night, and property owners who accept city funding or receive any city-funded incentives will be required to take housing vouchers and rental subsidies, funded both directly and indirectly by the federal government.

It won’t go into effect for a few months.

“When you have folks moving to this area at such a rapid pace, housing cannot keep up,” Inlivian’s Board Chair, Ray McKinnon, told WBTV.

For over a year, the city’s Great Neighborhoods Committee has been looking at ways to combat income discrimination. This new ordinance would allow tenants to file complaints by calling the city’s 3-1-1 line. If an investigation substantiates a resident’s reported claims, property owners could face monetary penalties.

“This isn’t requiring anybody to change their criteria. This isn’t requiring folks that are not receiving city funds. This would not apply to them because the city does not have that authority,” McKinnon said.

Critics of the ordinance say this isn’t an issue of income discrimination - but landlords making a business decision. Property owners a required to undergo various inspections and checks when accepting vouchers.

Qualifying for a housing voucher in the current market is only half the battle. Many who have vouchers have been unable to find a landlord to accept it - due in large part to the oversaturated housing market.

Of the 178 Emergency Housing Vouchers the federal government has awarded the City of Charlotte, only 17 are currently in use as of July 11th, 2022.

“I don’t understand why this wouldn’t be a unanimous vote. It isn’t something that’s going to harm folks looking for housing. Our hope is we’re going to help them. We’re going to help them remove the barriers.”

In April, WBTV first told Will Howard’s story. At the time he was homeless and sleeping in a crawlspace under a home near Uptown Charlotte.

In late 2021, Will qualified for an Emergency Housing Voucher, which was distributed by Inlivian, but hundreds of calls to landlords and property owners went unanswered.

Will’s story is not unique for those holding various rental assistance vouchers and subsidies.

“It’s not a crisis just for the Mr. Will’s of the world. It’s a crisis for the paramedic, the teachers. It’s a crisis for city staff workers,” McKinnon said of the various income levels this issue is touching.

Will is one of the lucky ones. His story got the right property owner’s attention - and last month, he moved into his new place.

While this new ordinance isn’t a cure for a deeply embedded crisis, Mckinnon believes it’s a start.

“This isn’t over. The worst isn’t behind us. However, we are in a place where we are paying attention now.”

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.