Charlotte Housing Authority pushes more into new development

eThe Charlotte Housing Authority is planning to develop more of its own properties and partner with developers to create more mixed-use, mixed-income communities, as the agency moves beyond a “bricks-and-sticks” model of just putting up housing for low-income tenants.

Look for more developments such as the plans for Strawn Towers, where CHA is seeking a partner to redevelop a prominent 16-acre site along South Boulevard with market-rate and subsidized residences as well as retail and office space, said Fulton Meachem, the agency’s CEO.

“There’s a strategic reason we’re doing that. The dollars we’re getting are becoming less and less from the federal government,” he said in a recent interview with the Observer. “We have to create our own income streams.”

The agency’s development subsidiary, Horizon Development Properties, is overseeing that effort, as well as plans to redevelop other sites.

CHA released a new economic impact analysis to show the impact of housing vouchers it oversees and its development activities. The agency, which receives most of its funding from federal Housing and Urban Development programs, said it commissioned the report to show it does more than simply provide housing vouchers.

For example, the analysis found:

▪ Its supportive housing program to help get homeless people off the streets has provided 718 housing units since July 2014 and saves $18 million annually on services such as health care, jails and emergency shelters.

▪ CHA’s construction and development continually supported 200 jobs and generated $200 million worth of economic output in Mecklenburg County from 2009 to 2014.

▪ As the largest housing authority in North Carolina, CHA has about 22,000 residents, including 10,294 children, and provides rental subsidies for people to live in 57 communities.

Meachem said he wants the agency to be thought of as more than an old-fashioned housing administration overseeing large projects. CHA also administers supportive programs for tenants to help them find and keep jobs, and boasts a 46.7 percent graduation rate – almost twice the national average.

“We have to do more than warehouse people,” said Meachem. “It’s very intentional, to create opportunities beyond just bricks and sticks.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

Plans in the works

Below are the largest projects underway at Horizon Development, CHA’s development subsidiary. The projects are largely funded with federal low-income housing tax credits and money from the city of Charlotte’s Housing Trust Fund.

▪ Senior apartments: A $12.7 million, 92-unit project underway at the corner of Park and Marsh roads. The apartments will be reserved for people 55 and older making 60 percent or less of the area’s median income.

▪ Tall Oaks: Phase one of the planned redevelopment of CHA properties in the Cherry neighborhood will cost $11.2 million and provide 81 units for low-income tenants.

▪ Renaissance: The Renaissance apartments on West Boulevard are nearing completion. The 334-unit building is a $76.3 million development on the site of the former Boulevard Homes development.

▪ Dilworth property: CHA is working to find a partner to develop a 16-acre site in Dilworth on South Boulevard. The Strawn Tower apartments would remain, while the rest of the site would be redeveloped into a major mixed-use site.