Our letter to City Council regarding Affordable Housing

On Nov. 11, 2016, Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association/CarolinaMLS CEO Anne Marie DeCatsye sent the following letter to Mayor Roberts and the Charlotte City Council:

Dear Representatives:

For the last 18 months our Association has been working with Pappas Properties, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, the Park and Recreation Department (Park and Rec), and youth league leaders on a plan to redevelop our 5.2 acres of property.  Recently, we have read concerns raised by the Charlotte Observer and select City Council members about the lack of an affordable housing component in this plan.  We have been surprised at these concerns since we have been so excited about the prospect of the land swap between the Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) and Park and Rec that we understand has the potential to produce up to 150 affordable units.  Even if the CHA builds mixed income units, the market rate would allow them to then build additional units elsewhere.  It just seems like a win-win for our entire community.

In addition to the potential that this swap affords, we want to make you aware of just how important affordable housing is to us and our history of supporting it.  Our association, through its nonprofit arm, the Housing Opportunity Foundation, has a long history of commitment to affordable housing initiatives and programs that assist residents in our region who earn below 80% of the median income level.  I would like to share with you some of the work our foundation has done over the years to advance the cause of affordable housing:

  • In 2002 the foundation established the Home Giveaway project, which worked in partnership with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership and area builders. Participants, who were required to make 80% or less of the median household income, were enrolled in financial-readiness classes and one-on-one counseling sessions to assist them in qualifying to own a home.  Participants who completed the program were eligible to win a new home.  Overall the project resulted in nearly 125 new homeownership-ready individuals and gave away five homes with a collective value of more than $547,000.
  • In 2009 the foundation began its largest project, Realtors® Care Day. Realtors® Care Day is an all-day home-repair project that helps residents with critical home maintenance needs, and also assists with safety/adaptive modifications for elderly or disabled persons.  Participants must make 80% or less of the median household income.  In addition to the City of Charlotte Code Enforcement, the foundation works with several key non-profit partners on the project, including Habitat for Humanity Matthews, Habitat for Humanity Charlotte, Our Towns Habitat, Love, Inc. and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.  Since Realtors® Care Day’s inception in 2009, more than 4000 Realtors® have assisted 205 families and non-profits with a total estimated economic impact of more than $1 million.
  • Since 2007 the foundation’s two grant programs (the Community Grant Program and the Habitat Support Grant Program) have distributed more than $300,000 to nonprofits in the Charlotte region. These dollars are focused on meeting unmet critical housing needs specifically within the areas of affordable housing and homelessness.
  • Since 2007 the foundation has awarded more than $20,000 to nonprofit organizations through its annual Humanitarian Award. Winners can designate a nonprofit organization of their choice to receive the awarded funds.
  • In 2016 alone, the foundation’s primary housing education program, the Workforce Housing Certificate Program, has educated approximately 330 Realtors® on affordable housing programs, resources and policies. This program educates Realtors® about working with first-time homebuyers and clients who purchase homes in the affordable price range (roughly 80% of median income).  Currently, the program has 367 Realtors® enrolled with 92 members currently certified as Workforce Housing Specialists.
  • The foundation has hosted several educational housing fairs to spotlight resources available from nonprofit housing groups and to provide information about down-payment assistance programs, affordable mortgage options, credit counseling and other affordable-housing resources:
    • 2008: The Community-Wide Housing Fair at Eastland Mall.
    • 2009: The Neighborhood Housing Fair in partnership with Little Rock AME Zion Church.
    • 2011: The Workforce Housing Fair and Neighborhood Showcase at Quail Ridge.
    • 2012: The Brightwalk Experience in partnership with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.
  • Just this year, the foundation held its first-annual Strides for Shelter 5K Run/Walk. This community event saw nearly 300 participants contribute $5000 toward the construction of a new 120-unit apartment complex that is being built for chronically-homeless individuals by Urban Ministry and Housing First Charlotte Mecklenburg.
  • Recently the foundation contributed $5000 to the “A Way Home” campaign overseen by the Foundation for the Carolinas. These funds will be used to provide rental subsidies for homeless and displaced families.

As you can see, our association has contributed more than $2 million to advance affordable housing initiatives over the past 15 years.  Although this letter contains only a portion of the work the Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association’s Housing Opportunity Foundation is doing in our community, I hope it serves to reinforce our association’s commitment to affordable housing in the past and into the future.

On behalf of the Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association, specifically taking into account our support and commitment to affordable housing, I respectfully encourage and ask that you approve the TIG and the Greenwood Cliff abandonment when they come before you Monday night.  Your approval would ensure approval of a project that represents a win for the City of Charlotte, a win for Mecklenburg County and a win for the 10,000 Realtor® members of our Association.

Sincerely,

Anne Marie DeCatsye

CEO, Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association/CarolinaMLS