Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
BYLINE: Mark Price; email@example.com
Charlotte City Council members didn’t on Wednesday settle the question of whether their Housing Trust Fund dollars should go to low- to moderate-income working families as opposed to the homeless.
Instead, they added an even bigger question to the mix: How much would it cost to end homelessness in Charlotte?
Charlotte officials say they’ll have a better idea of the pricetag based on a housing market analysis launched by the city this month. That study, due in September, will quantify the community’s existing housing supply, the existing demand and the gap in between.
It will also show what income levels can afford the existing homes, giving city planners a clearer idea of how hard it is for people to find an affordable place to live in Charlotte.
Such data is needed as the city council discusses possible changes to its affordable housing strategy and the best use for $6.7 million in Housing Trust Fund dollars. The money typically goes to help developers launch projects that house low-income families or the homeless.
The first of what could be several city council workshops on affordable housing was held Wednesday, in hopes of giving the city’s staff more direction on such things as the income levels best served by trust fund dollars.
Council member Warren Cooksey broached the subject of wanting a pricetag for ending homeless in Charlotte. “In terms of this conversation, that crystallizes the challenge,” he told the council. “For most everything we do, we know the price tag.”
Among the areas council members want to investigate is whether the city should use trust fund dollars to subsidize rent for struggling low-income families. Another option is using money for renovating existing housing, rather than building new housing, officials said.
The council sent both items to its Housing and Neighborhood Development Committee for further discussion.
Talk of changes to the city’s affordable housing strategy has caused concern in the community, after a council member suggested that the money should help house moderate-income working families rather than just the homeless and low-income families.
That debate remained unsettled Wednesday, though some council members suggested further exploration into helping families making 60 percent or less of the area’s median income.
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