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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership seeks $240,000 a year in city money

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, a nonprofit developer that specializes in building low-income housing, may absorb a similar nonprofit that focuses on commercial development in economically distressed areas.

But to make the deal work, the partnership has asked the city of Charlotte for $240,000 a year to help run the merged agency, according to a recent memo sent to City Council.

The group to be acquired – the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Development Corp. – was formed in 1997 as a public/private venture between the city, county and the Charlotte Chamber.

The Development Corp. has helped projects such as the CityWest Commons shopping center on West Boulevard and the Wilkinson Business Park. But the group’s “self-financing business model became unsustainable during the economic downturn,” according to the memo by City Manager Ron Carlee, and it began running a deficit last year.

Julie Porter, president of the Housing Partnership, said the two groups share a similar mission.

“Since one of our primary missions is revitalization, it makes sense,” Porter said about a merger. “We have in place a lot of infrastructure already. Our real estate office is already in place.”

The money would be for 1 1/2 staff positions, as well as for “related overhead.”

Attempts to reach Development Corp. officials for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. The memo said the Development Corp.’s president, Bob Sweeney, retired Monday. For the upcoming fiscal year, the city has two contracts with the Housing Partnership for more than $2 million.

The city will pay the group $1.96 million to build affordable housing. It also will pay the group $231,000 to administer the House Charlotte program, which can provide up to $10,000 in closing costs to help homebuyers who purchase in certain neighborhoods. The city outsourced that program to the partnership in 2011.

The city doesn’t provide money to the Development Corp., according to Assistant City Manager Ruffin Hall.

The City Council’s economic development committee will consider the request at its July 18 meeting.

Council member David Howard works for the Housing Partnership and would likely recuse himself from any vote. Council member James Mitchell belongs to the partnership’s board of directors.

Harrison: 704-358-5160
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