• Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

Business owners contribute to Charlotte’s housing shortage

ByDenise T. Tatum

Nov 25, 2022

Mecklenburg County Commissioners are looking at ways to address the issue.

CHARLOTTE, NC- Affordable housing is one of the biggest problems in the Charlotte area.

What makes it even more difficult is the number of company-owned rental apartments.

Corporate investors have greatly increased their investments in single-family homes for conversion into rental properties in recent years. Charlotte consistently tops the list for high levels of this investor activity.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners are looking at ways to address the issue.

“The problem affects the entire community”, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said.

According to the real estate company redfinMore than 30% of all homes in Charlotte have gone to investors over the past two quarters, taking homes that residents could have bought.

“Normal people like me and other families can’t compete with that,” Jessica Moreno, advocate for grassroots organization Action NC, said.

County officials recommend several different ideas for how to address the problem, including HOAs capping rents in their communities or continuing to invest in more affordable housing programs.

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Monica Allen, the county’s director of strategic planning and evaluation, said policy changes could cause problems.

“When governments took this tough stance on enforcing the code, some of the companies, not all but some, raised the rent because they were trying to get the money so they could create better environments and that led to crowding out. “ Allen said.

For now, district leaders are hoping more people will come to the table to address the issue.

The county has begun hiring a consultant to assist with this effort. Once a facilitator is selected and a strategy for community engagement approved, the county hopes listening sessions can begin in February or March 2023.

This comes as a new report shows North Carolina has a problem with corporate landlords: Big investors now own over 40,000 single-family homes in North Carolina.

Moreno says corporate landlords are gobbling up houses without giving first-time buyers a chance, charging tenants with rising rents, and are more likely to evict tenants.

“It affects a lot of people,” Moreno said.

Some of these corporate rental companies are owned or backed by private equity firms funded by public pension systems, including the North Carolina Retirement System (NCRS).

The report shows that since 2014, the North Carolina Retirement System has committed more than $3.2 billion to one such private equity firm, Landmark Partners.

This is important because Landmark is a significant investor in Progress Residential, the largest single-family home rental company in the US with over 7,700 homes in North Carolina.

“It’s alarming that North Carolina is literally investing in displacing the people they are meant to serve,” Moreno said.

The report calls on North Carolina’s pension system to end all new obligations to private firms that buy single-family homes so housing is within everyone’s reach.

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