DevelopmentNews & Opinion

Freedom Fighting Missionaries Purchases Land for First Development

Project will provide housing for low-income, justice-involved families

Freedom Fighting Missionaries founder Kenneth Robinson signs paperwork in conference room
Freedom Fighting Missionaries founder Kenneth Robinson signs the paperwork to finalize a land deal for his organization’s first new development on Feb. 29. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Robinson)

Charlotte-based reentry organization Freedom Fighting Missionaries (FFM) announced this week that it has closed a land deal to begin building its first affordable-housing development for low-income, justice-involved residents in University City. 

FFM’s land deal, finalized for $1 million on Feb. 29, is a major milestone for the nonprofit, the first Black-founded reentry organization in Charlotte to own land and create housing for public use. 

The deal comes after FFM was awarded $2 million in funding by Charlotte City Council in September 2023, plus another $2 million from Mecklenburg County to create supportive housing for individuals reentering society after incarceration and those who have been impacted by the justice system. 

FFM had originally planned to build two developments near one another, but a 16-unit project proposed on the property of The Grove Presbyterian Church was withdrawn due to backlash from neighbors at Charlotte City Council meetings last summer. 

FFM plans to break ground on the new 24-unit housing complex located on Sardony Lane this summer. The complex will be designated to serve families, offering two- and three-bedroom units for criminal-justice-involved families earning 30% to 80% of the average median income with onsite supportive services. 

“I am overjoyed and excited for this historic opportunity,” said Kenneth Robinson, founder and executive director at FFM. “I know how it feels to come home from prison and have to start from scratch. Now, I am able to support those that are re-entering society so that they can start fresh with sustainable services and viable resources along with a roof over their heads. 

“This is what true impact feels like,” Robinson continued. “It is truly a proud moment for me and those that have helped me along the way to see this opportunity come to fruition.” 

Having founded FFM on Jan. 1, 2020, the following year Robinson requested that Mecklenburg County, Inlivian and the Charlotte Continuum of Care include residents returning from incarceration when determining whom to allocate Emergency Housing Vouchers to. 

The organization was allotted 18 vouchers to support families in need of emergency housing. Since then, FFM has formally partnered with Inlivian, a nonprofit real estate holding company, to provide housing choice vouchers. 

In a February 2021 episode of our Nooze Hounds podcast, Robinson and Kris Axhoj of Axhoj Enterprises, both of whom had collaborated with the Charlotte-based Home Again Foundation on an affordable-housing development in north Charlotte, to discuss affordable housing options in Charlotte and the city’s housing crisis. 

Freedom Fighting Missionaries founder Kenneth Robinson speaks into a microphone standing in front of a live music setup.
Freedom Fighting Missionaries founder Kenneth Robinson speaks at the 2023 Underground Railroad Of Reentry gala at Mint Museum. (Photo courtesy of Freedom Fighting Missionaries)

Robinson will partner with Axhoj once again to construct the new development in University City. 

When asked about the difficulties citizens often face while waiting for housing choice vouchers after exiting incarceration, Robinson said, “Something else will happen in that time frame because that’s just how life happens … either positive or negative before you reach that timeframe. Unfortunately for the individuals we’re talking about, nine times out of 10 it has a negative impact … just because it’s so difficult to move forward in Charlotte, NC, if you’re from Charlotte, NC.” 

FFM offers services that include but are not limited to jail release transition support, court advocacy, emergency and permanent housing, health insurance, technology support, identification and public transportation support. 

The organization’s four core services include partnering with Just Do It Movement to provide assistance with vital records; partnering with Care Ring to provide access to quality health care and low- to no-cost health insurance; partnering with Erika’s Closet to provide access to employment-readiness classes, skills training, technology training, and referrals to second-chance employers; and providing temporary and emergency housing solutions alongside its work to create more permanent solutions through developments like the one set to start construction this summer.

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