‘I just want some help:’ The struggle to find affordable housing in the Charlotte region

Ragin is dreaming of a simple place to call home, but the cost of housing in the Charlotte and Fort Mill area is holding him back
Lowell spent the day with Ragin talking about his day-by-day, hoping to find a solution to a situation he thought would be temporary.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 9:53 PM EST
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - “I can’t find nowhere to live that I can afford,” said Shawn Ragin.

Sharing the harsh reality of homelessness in the community. Ragin is bravely sharing his story that he is more than a stigma of people living out of their car or on the street.

He’s someone working part-time and unable to find affordable housing.

Ragin is looking for housing in the Charlotte/Fort Mill area. He describes some places as unlivable conditions costing upwards of $1,200 a month.

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Ragin is dreaming of a simple place to call home, but the cost of housing in the Charlotte and Fort Mill area is holding him back. It’s a search process that’s been ongoing for the past six months.

“I just want some help. I just want to be able to get my own place and have a place that I can turn my key and I can live,” said Ragin.

His story of homelessness is not what some may typically think.

“I have a job, I’m not out here holding up no sign, begging nobody for no money or anything,” said Ragin. “I chose to go wash up, I chose to go shave my face, I chose to get a haircut if I want to.”

He has money but said it’s not enough to afford rent, down payments, and the cost of moving into a place.

In the moments he finds an apartment, Ragin said it’s not safe or the conditions are bad.

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“When you get there, you find out the place is not what they show online. So what do you do? You’re back to square one and I’m tired of being at square one,” said Ragin.

So where is he living as he searches for an affordable place to stay?

“Constantly right now, I’m staying in my car, I’m staying at a convenience store, and I go from there to other convenience stores, but I live in my car,” said Ragin.

It’s a situation that’s tough for him as he works an overnight shift and gets off work in the morning.

“It’s hard because it’s cold outside at night and it’s dangerous outside at night,” Ragin said. “I’ve got to be looking around, I can’t constantly sleep because I’m not sure if someone’s going to be over me or trying to break in my car to hurt me.”

The recent state of housing report shows Charlotte had an average rent of $1,567 and York County is slightly under the $1,500 mark.

“Rent is ridiculous in Charlotte, North Carolina and I think the rent prices need to go down. You’re constantly building up new places but then you’re jacking up the rent so high that people can’t afford to live in it,” said Ragin.

Despite the high cost of living in Charlotte, Ragin wants his situation to get better so he can stay here and make a living.

“I work hard, I’m working and I’m trying to constantly work,” he said. “All I want is some help for me and a resource that can provide me with a place to live and a place I can afford to live.”

Ragin added he has reached out for help in Charlotte and Fort Mill, but he runs into constant roadblocks. His goal is to find an affordable place to stay that’s safe and with rent of around $600 a month.