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Council discusses solutions to affordable housing shortage

Charlotte City Council members were presented Tuesday with a report that outlines the need for more affordable housing in Mecklenburg County and offers policy recommendations.

According to the report, prepared for the Charlotte Housing Authority by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs, of 49,053 renter households in the county that are “cost-burdened,” 24,874 are low income and 24,179 are very low income.

The report also says the number of homeless people in the county is increasing. The most recent data indicates that 4,477 people in the county are homeless and an additional 12,552 are “couch homeless,” meaning they are temporarily staying with friends or family.

Council members discussed possible solutions to the problems. At-large Councilman David Howard suggested that the council look more closely at the relationship between affordable housing and transportation.

“We have to be serious about finding ways to get affordable housing as a part of our five corridors,” Howard said.

Developing mixed-income housing near public transit stops was one policy recommendation in the report, as well as providing tax incentives for developers who contribute to the city’s Housing Trust Fund and offering financial counseling services to low-income tenants.

Councilman Andy Dulin, who represents District 6, said he was concerned that the data was outdated, since it came largely from census data that dated as far back as 2005.

“I don’t know if this does us any good,” Dulin said.

Owen Furuseth, the associate provost for metropolitan studies at UNCC and one of the report’s authors, acknowledged that the data probably underestimated the problem. But up-to-date census data was hard to come by, he said.

Caitlin Coakley can be reached at caitlin.coakley@mecktimes.com.

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