Voters will get to decide this election whether to give the city of Charlotte permission to borrow more than $223 million to fund new affordable housing, new streets, trails and bike lanes, and neighborhood improvements.
The three bond issues will be the final choice voters have at the ends of their ballots. Bond measures are typically approved in Charlotte by a wide margin, and Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan said recently that there’s no organized opposition to the bonds that he’s aware of.
In 2016, all three city bond issues were approved with 70 percent or more of the vote. Here’s what’s on the ballot this year:
▪ Housing bonds: In response to rising rents and a lack of affordable housing, the Charlotte City Council has more than tripled the amount of money it’s asking voters for this year to fuel the city’s Housing Trust Fund. Voters are being asked to approve $50 million worth of bonds, which would fund the city’s affordable housing efforts for the next two years. Since the trust fund was established in 2001, the city has typically issued $15 million worth of bonds every two years, which developers and housing advocates say is inadequate to meet the need.
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If approved, the $50 million would fund subsidies for developers building low-income housing, as well as programs that fund the rehabilitation of foreclosed, blighted or dilapidated single-family houses and apartments.
▪ Neighborhood Improvement bonds: A separate bond issue would provide $55 million to fund the city’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program. This program is directed toward booming areas that are outgrowing their infrastructure, or older areas that need their infrastructure updated.
The areas targeted include SouthPark, the neighborhoods around Eastland Mall and the Sunset/Beatties Ford Road corridor, among others. Projects funded by these bonds include adding sidewalks, connecting bicycle lanes, improving roads and intersections, and building new landscaping along the public right-of-way.
▪ Transportation bonds: The biggest bond issue Charlotte is asking voters to approve is $118 million for major road and other infrastructure improvements. These include new roads west of the airport in the Dixie/Berryhill area (where developers Lincoln Harris and Crescent Communities are planning a Ballantyne-sized mega-development), a new bridge over Interstate 85 connecting Research Drive and J.W. Clay Boulevard, incremental work on the Cross Charlotte Trail, and plans to build at least 10 miles of new sidewalks and bicycle lanes each year.