Charlotte Looking at New Approach for Addressing Housing Affordability

Charlotte is considering a new approach to addressing housing affordability issues in the city, and it involves old(er) apartments. From The Charlotte Observer:

The city of Charlotte has a new strategy for low-income housing: Rather than focusing on building new apartment complexes, city officials want to invest in apartment complexes from the 1960s and ’70s and use deed restrictions to keep rents affordable…

The city’s Housing Trust Fund is usually replenished with $15 million every two years. Last year, City Manager Marcus Jones added $6 million to that fund over five years.

That money usually goes to nonprofit developers like the Housing Partnership, which also seek state tax credits to make their projects financially viable. Trust fund dollars have normally funded new housing units.

But the city has found it’s extremely difficult to bring affordable housing to prosperous parts of the city, where residents could have access to high-performing schools. One problem is the high cost of land. Another is opposition from neighbors, which has derailed some proposals in the past.

When the city subsidizes new construction, it often spends $25,000 per unit. An older complex could be renovated for about $8,000 per unit in city assistance. In exchange for the subsidy, the city could use a deed restriction to keep rents affordable for 30 years.

It’s an interesting approach, one that could also work in other cities that have a stock of older, more affordable units to preserve while Class-A properties continue to sprout up elsewhere.