On the 73rd episode of the Nooze Hounds podcast, Ryan talks to at-large representative LaWana Mayfield about regaining a seat on Charlotte City Council after a three-year hiatus, what’s changed since she’s been gone, and what inspired her passion for social justice issues before embarking on an in-depth discussion about housing solutions in Charlotte.
During its April 10 business meeting, council approved the purchase of two parcels on Reagan Drive that currently serve as the site of Economy and Budget Inn Motel, for a total of $4.2 million plus a $1-million investment in demolishing those motel buildings to prepare for redevelopment and funding the relocation of long-term tenants there.
Mayfield was one of three council members who voted against the purchase, along with Braxton Winston and Ed Driggs, asking why the city should hand $4 million to a company that has “caused chaos in our community” so they can turn around and purchase some other property. She warned that the people who benefit from this project won’t look like the people who live in nearby Hidden Valley today.
“If we’re going to move forward and have this conversation then we need to be honest with y’all and not just say what sounds good,” she said, addressing the group of Hidden Valley residents in the crowd on Monday. “We owe you … over the last two decades we have not done everything we can to protect you because we could have put the language in on the front end.”
Mayfield wanted assurances that long-time community members will benefit from the housing or other development that replaces the motel and wanted assurances that the slumlord they are “about to pay $4 million for your trash business” won’t turn around and open another one elsewhere in the city.
On the podcast, Ryan and LaWana discussed the Sugar Creek project, but also a slew of other housing solutions that have come in front of council — or in the case of Home Again Foundation, operated outside of council’s purview.
In February 2021, Justin LaFrancois reported on the Home Again Foundation’s goals to build affordable housing communities throughout the Charlotte area. Ryan and LaWana also discuss the city’s decade-old commitment to invest $12 million in developing permanent supportive housing complexes for the chronically homeless, which Ryan reported on in 2013.
Mayfield explains on the podcast how the lost potential of these promising projects highlights the difference between political talk and political will.
Remember you can catch Nooze Hounds on Spotify and other places where you find podcasts and be sure to check out Queen City Podcast Network for a slew of other great Charlotte podcasts that aren’t quite as good as ours but pretty damn close. Find past Nooze Hounds episodes here.
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