Booming rent costs Charlotte "affordable city" status

- Ask most people in Charlotte and they'll quickly tell you:  Rent continues to climb, so much so that it's become a hot topic. Charlotte Magazine hosted a forum Wednesday night to discuss it with developers, realtors, and others.

"Charlotte has a reputation of being an affordable place to live,” said Pamela Wideman, Deputy Director for the city’s Neighborhood and Business Services Department.

But it appears to many that's rapidly changing, depending on where in Charlotte you want to live. The panel attacked that reputation head.

“We know we have a lot of people living in poverty who really can't afford the rent here,” said Wideman.

Developers and city planners define affordable housing as costing no more than 30% than ones income. But they say they're also seeing an increase in the number of Charlotteans pinching pennies.

“They're paying 50, 60, 70% of their income for rent which is not sustainable standard for the city,” said Dionne Nelson, principal and CEO of Laurel Street Residential, a mixed-income housing development company.

Others are choosing to leave Charlotte altogether and rent somewhere else or own property instead of renting.

“Initially when I moved to Charlotte I live close to uptown but after about a year there was going to raise the prices on Mira so I start to look outside of the city because the prices are a little bit more fordable and I was able to get more space,” said Kristin Fork.

When I first got here I rented for a year and a half and and decided after looking around the rates to own was actually a lot cheaper

While it may seem like around every corner, there’s construction of high rises, especially in uptown.

"They're not producing stock that is affordable to low, or median income households,” said Nelson.

What it all comes down according to people I spoke with it's big business.

On average developers need to develop where they can produce a return that the market expects and in order to produce that return they're having to build at the upper end of the spectrum

But other developers, like Nelson, say they're trying to work with the city to turn things around.

“I don't think there is a silver belt bullet if there were I think what we were taking it already the reality is we got work to do in discussions like this help us move the ball forward.”

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