Charlotte Family Housing

Empowering Our Families as Rental Rates Rise

Happy fall from Charlotte Family Housing!

We’ve had a busy beginning to September, ensuring a smooth back-to-school transition for the 450 children in our program.  As they settle into schedules and homework, I’ve been thinking about the math problems we work to solve every day.

Photo Credit: James Willamor

Photo Credit: James Willamor

There are 10,155 apartments under construction in Charlotte and 13,442 apartments planned. Wow. You’d think the real estate boom would provide plenty of availability for renters of all incomes, but unfortunately we can’t get it to add up that way for our families.

To tell you the truth, Charlotte’s hot market actually leaves a large number out in the cold.

Consider these figures:

$1052 is the average monthly rental rate in the Charlotte market and $1170 is the approximate monthly take-home pay for a 30 hour/week employee earning $9/hour. Subtract rent from income and you have $118 left for utilities, food, clothing, transportation, medical needs and everything else. So how does a family like this afford a home in Charlotte?

No problem, you think…just find an apartment that rents below the average rate.

So the lowest average rent in Charlotte is $690.

This time the math leaves $480 a month. The family can pay the rent, but they’re severely “cost burdened” (paying more than 50% of income for shelter). It still doesn’t add up favorably.

Charlotte Family Housing balances the equation for our clients by making up the difference in what they can afford and the market rental rate. Each month, we pay out $70,000 a month in client rental subsidies. Our families pay 30% of their income toward rent (the percentage recommended by HUD).

But having a subsidy doesn’t guarantee a solution.

Safe, affordable housing choices for low-income renters are scarce. And many landlords are hesitant – if not averse – to accepting subsidies, for fear (albeit unwarranted) of undesirable tenants and the onerous paperwork that comes with a federally funded subsidy.

Here’s how Charlotte Family Housing works the equation:

We call on our network of approximately 60 landlords in 22 zip codes across the city who rent apartments or homes to CFH clients.

We prepare our families to be good tenants by requiring them to complete our Good Neighbor Training course: educating them about leases, financial responsibilities and household maintenance. We pair families with Masters-level social workers who meet with them bi-weekly in their homes. We match families with Hope Teams – groups of volunteers who embrace them with support and encouragement. We ensure that Charlotte Family Housing tenants are exceptionally prepared to meet their rental obligations.

And the bottom-line result of all of the problem-solving? SELF-SUFFICIENCY. We work the math to help families obtain and ultimately, sustain housing on their own earned income: 91% of our families sustain housing for at least 2 years after completing our program. Like good students, we check our work!

I’m proud to say that we’re good at this math. Even in Charlotte’s competitive rental market where nothing adds up. But we can’t continue our work without our partners: landlords who embrace our mission, volunteers who give their time selflessly, and donors who share their resources.

As the math gets more and more difficult, we’re grateful to be able to count on you to help us make our numbers work.

Thank you for your partnership.


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