Local GovernmentNews & Opinion

City Launches Homeownership Assistance Pilot on Corridors of Opportunity

House Charlotte Plus will supplement existing program

Residents march down Beatties Ford Road, one of Charlotte's Corridors of Opportunity where a new homeownership assistance pilot program will launch
Residents march down Beatties Ford Road, one of Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity where the city’s new homeownership assistance program will launch. (Photo by Grant Baldwin) 

The city of Charlotte on Thursday announced the launch of a new homeownership assistance pilot program that will provide up to $80,000 in funding for eligible residents looking to purchase a home in certain “areas of influence” within the Corridors of Opportunity. 

House Charlotte Plus will supplement the existing House Charlotte homeownership assistance program, which offers $30,000 for eligible homebuyers anywhere in the city, by offering an additional $50,000 to those who meet certain eligibility criteria, including making 80% of the area median income (AMI) or less. 

The maximum purchase price for homes to qualify for House Charlotte Plus funding is $300,000 for existing homes and $315,000 for new construction. The home must be located in areas surrounding the Charlotte’s six Corridors of Opportunity, where the city is investing $38.5 million into neighborhoods surrounding six historically underinvested areas: Graham Street/North Tryon Street, Sugar Creek Road at I-85, Albemarle Road/Central Avenue, Beatties Ford Road/Rozzelles Ferry Road, West Boulevard, and Freedom Drive/Wilkinson Boulevard. 

“House Charlotte Plus is another way the city is investing in its corridors, providing homeownership opportunities for hard-working families and improving social mobility for its residents,” said Warren Wooten, assistant director for affordable housing with the city of Charlotte, in a release announcing the program on Thursday. 

Administered by DreamKey Partners on behalf of the city, the $50,000 in homeownership assistance from House Charlotte Plus will be offered as a 0% interest loan over 30 years. According to the city, the entire loan balance must be repaid if the property is sold, transferred, the owner occupancy status changes, or a cash-out refinance transaction happens before the 30-year period has expired. The loan is forgiven in year 31.

The original House Charlotte program offers $30,000 in assistance to potential homebuyers in areas outside the Corridors of Opportunity, with all the same eligibility requirements: 80% AMI or less, $300K-$315K home price maximum, 30-year 0% interest loan. Residents making between 80%-110% AMI may qualify for up to $10,000 in assistance through House Charlotte. 

House Charlotte Plus is a step toward ensuring that the development and spending that comes along with being labeled a Corridor of Opportunity includes lower-income folks living in the community. 

In October 2022, when Queen City Nerve visited the Historic West End corridor to discuss the Alternatives to Violence program being carried out there, organizer Leondra Garrett echoed the concerns of many local residents we spoke to when she emphasized that Charlotteans outside of the corridors spend too much time paying attention to business openings and crime statistics rather than keeping longtime residents in their homes or giving renters a path to homeownership. 

“They’re not asking the people what they want to see in this community,” Garrett said. “They’re giving it to those who can afford to be an investor here, those who can afford to come in and buy up these properties, those that can afford to buy these buildings that we’re looking at. Or if you are renting, they’re raising the rent so high that they are pushing you out.” 

Another concern for those we spoke with in the Historic West End in October was around which businesses would be prioritized by the Corridors of Opportunity programs. Some pointed out that city officials were showcasing the opening of a new Chase Bank branch at the corner of LaSalle Street and Beatties Ford Road in November 2021 only for the locally owned longtime neighborhood staple Westside Meats to announce its closing four months later. 

While it was unclear exactly why Westside Meats closed — co-founder Theodore Coleman passed away early in 2021, leaving his widow to run the business on her own — the timing was a sign to some area residents of how the face of the corridor was going to change. 

“There’s not enough community investment as far as the mom-and-pop businesses,” Earl Owens, site coordinator with Alternatives to Violence on Beatties Ford Road, told Queen City Nerve in October. “Now I understand why the bank institutions are here … but that’s not an investment in the community. That’s a service that’s in the community. So if you don’t have a job or if your job doesn’t want you to have enough money to even have a bank account, you walking right past that place.”

In January 2023, Foundation for the Carolinas announced the completion of the first of three grantmaking rounds in the Beyond Open small-business grant program, awarding $5.9 million in grants to 178 diverse-owned small businesses and select nonprofit organizations, 72% of which are located within or near/adjacent to one of the six Corridors of Opportunity. That included businesses along the Beatties Ford Road corridor such as Archive CLT and Buzz City Bar & Grill.

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