‘Preserving the city’: Charlotte families donate houses to affordable housing nonprofit

·3 min read

The homes had a lot in common. They were in good shape with modern amenities, but didn’t fit their owners’ needs.

So three Charlotte families made the unusual decision: Rather than bulldoze the perfectly good dwellings and start anew, they would donate them to become permanently affordable housing for people too often priced out of the real estate market.

West Side Community Land Trust, an affordable home ownership nonprofit, will move the three donated homes to a site on Gilbert Street off of Beatties Ford Road in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood, the group announced Friday.

It marks the latest acquisition for the nonprofit, which works to preserve affordable housing and promote home ownership in west Charlotte.

David and Jennifer Gregory donated their SouthPark home after a year of trying to figure out how to add on to it. When architects advised the couple to start from scratch, David said they were conflicted.

“We knew it might not be the perfect home for us, but it could be a perfect home for another family. So we went on this journey to find the alternative solution to tearing down the house,” he said.

“It just feels good knowing that our house is going to live on and provide affordable housing for another family in Charlotte.”

Preparations to move the houses will begin next week. Leaders from the city, land trust and the homes’ donors celebrated Friday with a groundbreaking on site.

How a land trust works

Land trusts sell homes at an affordable price to low- and moderate-income households, while retaining ownership of the land beneath it. Participants agree to modest increases of their home’s value so it can be sold at an affordable price if they choose to move.

The three donated homes, which are between 1,200 and 1,700 square feet, will be affordable for households between 60 and 80% of the area median income, or about $50,000 to $67,000 annually for a family of four.

Rates of home ownership near the Gilbert site is 35%, significantly lower than the county’s overall 57%, according to data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Quality of Life Explorer.

Vikki-Rose Tunick, who with her husband, Marc, donated their Sedgefield home when they also determined adding on wasn’t feasible. She said she’s watched the city grow in her 16 years as a resident. She said her work in education has given her a sharper focus on the city’s future.

“I really wanted to love the idea of preserving the city — not just for my own children and my family — but for the students, making sure that our community understood all of the importance that the city has to offer,” she said.

Among the land trust’s other recent acquisitions were two historic shotgun houses, which will be renovated to be accessory dwelling units (sometimes called carriage houses or granny flats) on the same Lakeview property as other two other homes in the program.

The land trust is also beginning its first orientation program for potential home owners in the program later this month.

The three Gilbert Street homes will be in one of Charlotte’s “Corridors of Opportunity,” a city-led initiative to invest public and private money for economic development in six historically underfunded areas, including along Beatties Ford Road.

“That is three more opportunities at achieving the American dream,” said City Council member Victoria Watlington, who attended Friday’s dedication. “Three more instances where hardworking Charlotteans are able to lay down roots for future generations.”

Other corridors include Central Avenue/Albermarle Road and Freedom Drive/Wilkinson Boulevard.

The city will spend $117,000 for site preparation and storm water work on the Gilbert site as part of its Beatties Ford corridor investments.