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Despite concerns, City Council OKs new policy to disperse affordable housing

The Charlotte City Council approved a new policy Monday to spread affordable housing throughout the city.

But not all council members backed the plan, and Mayor Anthony Foxx raised his own concerns.

An advisory council made of residents, housing officials and business leaders had helped to develop the policy, which is designed to avoid concentrations of affordable, subsidized housing in any one neighborhood. The policy limits the number of affordable-housing projects within a half-mile radius. In any one neighborhood, no more than 15 percent of the housing can be subsidized and no more than 5 percent can be for very low-income residents, meaning those who make 30 percent or less of the area median income.

In a 9-2 vote, Councilmen Warren Cooksey and Edwin Peacock voted against the changes to the policy. The city has had a locational policy since 2001.

Cooksey, who made a motion to rescind the policy, said it puts a stigma on affordable housing.

He said the policy says that affordable housing is not good in certain neighborhoods: those are considered to be unstable. That opens the door for complaints from residents that it also would not be good in their neighborhoods, he said.

“We deliver a mixed message,” he said. “I’m in favor of constructing as much housing as we can with our limited resources.”

Councilman Andy Dulin seconded the motion, which failed.

Councilman David Howard wondered whether the city could develop enough affordable housing to meet Charlotte’s needs under the half-mile restriction. He suggested that the proposed policy be changed to feature a quarter-mile restriction, which he said was more reasonable in an urban setting. That motion failed.

The city will use data from a quality of life study to determine if new, rehabilitated or converted subsidized multifamily housing developments are allowed in certain neighborhoods. The study must consider a neighborhood stable for it to be able to receive housing subsidies through the city.

Also, projects that receive state and federal funds are affected by the new policy and have to receive City Council approval.

Foxx told the council he was concerned about the new policy.

“There are a host of private-sector carrots that ought to be under discussion at this table right now that add to the value of the conversation,” he said. “This policy by itself is incomplete.”

Foxx also said he had concerns that the policy will create more clustering of poverty, particularly through rehabilitation and the conversion of multifamily units into affordable housing.

Tara Ramsey can be reached at tara.ramsey@mecktimes.com.

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