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Council to consider new rules for transit housing

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    The Charlotte City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St.



The Charlotte City Council will consider a proposal Monday night to continue reserving some apartments near transit stations for workforce housing but also to encourage more market-rate units.

The city today tries to ensure that low-income residents aren’t shut out from housing built around light-rail stations.

Under the current policy, 20 percent of housing units within a half-mile of a transit station must be subsidized units for low-income residents. Under the proposed changes, that minimum would be lowered to 15 percent.

Today’s rule also says that in a single development, no more than 25 percent of units can be subsidized. The proposal calls for that maximum to be lowered to 20 percent.

In addition, the current policy says that 30 percent of the subsidized units must be set aside for families earning 30 percent or less of the area median income. For a family of four, that is $19,500.

City staff has proposed eliminating that requirement entirely. Pamela Wideman, housing services manager for the city, said it was financially difficult for developers to build those units.

The city’s new goal is to build housing for people earning 60 percent of the area median income, which is $39,100 for a family of four.

“That’s your teacher, that’s your government worker,” Wideman said.

Democrat Michael Barnes, who represents northeast Charlotte, where much of the light-rail extension will be built, opposes the part of the policy that would allow for one building in a development to be completely subsidized. He believes that would encourage too much low-income housing, and he said the area around North Tryon Street needs upscale units to improve the area.

“The deal is that we are trying to introduce more market-rate development along the corridor,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t make sense to introduce even more subsidized housing when we already have so much of it. We want to see the South End model occur.”

Barnes was referring to the numerous apartments and condos that have been built in the South End since the Lynx Blue Line opened in 2007.

Wideman said the city wants to ensure that low-income residents can live near a train station, even if the area gentrifies.

“Our position is that people who need affordable housing should be able to live in a transit line,” Wideman said. “That helps them economically. If they can rely on transit, they may not even need to have a car.”

Harrison: 704-358-5160
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