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5 Things To Know: Roof Above Purchases Affordable Housing Complex

...and four more stories from Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2020

Roof Above Purchases Affordable Housing Complex

Roof Above announced on Tuesday it has purchased an apartment complex in east Charlotte, allow the organization to preserve 341 affordable housing units. In a $50-million deal made possible through a public-private partnership, the homeless-services organization acquired HillRock Estates on 23 acres near Kilborne Drive. Through deed restrictions, the apartments will remain affordable for at least 27 years for households earning below the city’s median income.

The newly branded organization that came from the merger of Urban Ministry Center and Men’s Shelter of Charlotte teamed up with Ascent Real Estate Capital, a leader in Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing preservation in Charlotte, to execute the acquisition, financing and affordability plan for the project. Atrium Health was also crucial in securing the property, providing a $5 million low-interest loan to Roof Above in exchange for the use of 50 apartments over time to house Atrium workers in need of assistance, according to a release.

HillRock Estates (Photo courtesy of Roof Above)

“The beauty of HillRock is that it’s funded primarily through private sources and will operate much like any apartment community does,” said Roof Above CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly, “yet at the same time will accommodate households with a range of incomes including some of Charlotte’s most vulnerable residents.”

A breakdown of rent restrictions Roof Above has planned for HillRock Estates shows the following:

  • 96 units reserved for households earning between 60% and 80% of Charlotte’s area median income.
  • 160 units reserved for those earning 60% of median income and less.
  • 10 units for households earning 30% of area median income and below, and rely on government vouchers or other forms of rental assistance.
  • 75 units for individuals who have had long-term experiences with homelessness and need permanent supportive housing.

Gov. Cooper Announces Move to Phase 2.5

Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that North Carolina residents could move into what he called Phase 2.5 of the state’s reopening plan on Friday. The following rules changed on Friday:

  • Mass gathering limits increased to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the previous limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.
  • Playgrounds are allowed to open.
  • Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity.
  • Gyms and indoor exercise facilities — such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing — as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball, etc. may open at 30% capacity.

Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks and dance halls remain closed, and large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits.

A look at test positivity rates over time. (Graph courtesy of MCPH)

“As we take modest steps forward today, it’s important to remember that moving forward doesn’t mean letting up on slowing the spread of the virus,” stated NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, MD, in a release on Tuesday. “Our progress is fragile and we need to maintain focus on the 3Ws [Wash your hands, Wear a mask, Wait 6 feet apart] especially as we head into flu season.”

According to the most recent data released on Friday, there were 26,064 positive cases of COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents as of that morning, and 310 deaths resulting from the coronavirus. In-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday showed, on average, around 139 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 at any given day during the past week, a stable trend compared to the previous 14 days. Positive test percentage also remained relatively stable at 6.7%.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and Thompson Partner for Latinx Families

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool announced on Friday a partnership with Thompson Child & Family Focus to implement two bilingual MECK Pre-K classrooms serving 4- and 5-year-old children on campus at Thompson’s Child Development Center on Clanton Road in west Charlotte.

“The partnership with Thompson, a local leader in early childhood, family stability, and mental health services, will give families served by Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (CBP) the choice between remote learning and in-person learning. MECK Pre-K, funded by Mecklenburg County and managed by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, previously decided that only in-person learning would be reimbursable. Since Charlotte Bilingual Preschool is located on the campus of Hickory Grove Elementary School, a CMS school that is remaining closed due to COVID-19, the preschool was caught between two systems with differing perspectives about best practices and no ability to serve 72 children.

“We were truly stuck between a rock and a hard place,” stated CBP’s executive director Banu Valladares in a release on Friday. “We appealed to the media because it appeared we were at an impasse and that would have dramatically impacted the families we serve.”

“In addition to restoring funding to serve 54 of the 72 children supported by MECK Pre-K, the partnership with Thompson has also helped to loosen MECK Pre-K’s restrictions, allowing CBP to offer its remote learning to families that choose to remain remote during this pandemic. CMS has also provided some rent forgiveness, though CBP will need to take on the additional out-of-pocket expense to serve the in-person classrooms and the remaining 18 children by opening a fifth remote classroom.

Panel Rules NC Felony Disenfranchisement Law Unconstitutional

A three-judge panel ruled that North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law violates two separate provisions of the state’s Constitution on Friday.  The court determined that the state’s disenfranchisement law — which prevents citizens from voting until their “unconditional discharge” from probation, parole, or post-release supervision — violates both the Equal Protection Clause and the Constitution’s ban on property qualifications because it conditions the right to vote on a person’s ability to pay fines, fees, and other debts associated with their previous felony conviction.  The court further granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, allowing some voters to begin registering to vote immediately.

The litigation is part of the broader Unlock Our Vote Campaign, which aims to restore voting rights to nearly 60,000 people previously convicted of felonies while simultaneously engaging the community through targeted voter education and registration efforts.

“This ruling is a major victory for the thousands of North Carolinians who have been denied access to the ballot due to an inability to pay financial obligations,” said Dennis Gaddy, executive director of Community Success Initiative and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of four individual North Carolinians and several community groups that conduct voter registration and education efforts. “We are thrilled that the judges took this important step in the right direction in the continued fight for voting rights and equality in our state. Our fight continues for the full expansion of voting rights for all of those who have been convicted of a felony and live in our communities, who deserve an equal say in our democracy.”

Triple Shooting Leaves One Man Dead in West Charlotte

A man was killed and two women shot in an incident at a convenience store in west Charlotte on Friday night, bringing a violent end to an otherwise quiet week. Police responded to a shooting call at Osei Discount Food & Beverage on L.D. Parker Drive at around 9:43 p.m. on Friday found 19-year-old Carlos Lopez-Cole dead on the scene, while two women were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Lopez-Cole was the 80th homicide victim in Charlotte this year. [UPDATE: Another man was killed in a double shooting on South Crigler Street in west Charlotte’s Thomasboro-Hopkins neighborhood early Sunday morning. His name has not yet been released.]

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