Panelists express housing views

Dr. Tiffany Manuel kept the dialogue going after her talk by moderating a lively panel with three Charlotte-based housing leaders.

They were Mark Boyce, founding partner of True Homes; Jada Grandy-Mock, director of regional community and economic development for Fifth Third Bank; and Willie Ratchford, executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Department.

Mark Boyce Jada Grandy-Mock Willie Ratchford

Manuel posed a handful of questions to the panel, and two of the questions are below. The panelists’ responses have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

What is the one thing that keeps you up at night, that you worry about the most?

Mark Boyce

“What keeps me up at night is recognition that the market is not delivering land and lots to address the supply constraints. We have the lowest housing supply in the (modern) history of Charlotte. I’m concerned where we’ll be in 12 and 24 months as far as delivery of new housing supply.”

Jada Grandy-Mock

“It’s nothing like seeing people work hard to get their finances straight … their credit straight, their employment strong, yet they still can’t find a home in their income range. The other thing that keeps me up at night is the wave of foreclosures in our industry and the impact.”

Willie Ratchford

“We enforce the city’s and county’s fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination in housing practices. Annually HUD does a study of housing discrimination across the country, and annually there are some two million instances of housing discrimination; however, only 25,000 cases actually get to organizations like ours. That means the vast majority of discrimination is going unchecked.

“The other thing is our office along with the city’s Neighborhood Services Department is working on adding “source of income” as a protective class to the (fair housing) ordinance. We have people through no fault of their own, just unfortunate circumstances … who are unable to participate in the housing market simply because of the way they make their money or the source of their income. Landlords won’t rent to them. It’s primarily people with Section 8 vouchers. They are good people like the rest of us, but there is a stigma because they are poor.”

How do we get our Realtor® colleagues to push even beyond being a Realtor® to being an adaptive leader?

Mark Boyce

“Realtors® are experts on transactions. They have a lens of opportunity related to land and homes. They can see opportunities where others can’t see and dwell in the possibility. We (True Homes) think a major housing solution is accessory dwelling units. Realtors® are in a perfect position because of relationships with past clients to help unlock the potential of backyards by building units that would be available for rental.”

Jada Grandy-Mock

“We can start with our own convictions, addressing our own biases and our own spheres of influence to get involved in public policy. This is not about us and them. It’s about ours, our region. Realtors® can also get involved on boards and commissions and offer viewpoints. It’s where many decisions are made, and you can make an impact.”

Willie Ratchford

“There is a lot of denial about racism, and denial is the fuel of racism. We find people think it’s gone away because they don’t see it. They don’t see it because people mostly engage in ‘Have a great day’ racism and a pat on the back. It’s very subtle, very sophisticated, and the victim often does not know they have been discriminated against.”