City Council Defers Vote on Revisions to Assisted Multifamily at Transit Policy

At its June 24th business meeting, the Charlotte City Council voted to defer a decision on proposed changes to its policy guiding City participation in Assisted Multifamily Housing in Transit Station Areas. The policy will now go back to the Housing & Neighborhood Development (H&ND) Committee, which has been wrestling with the language for nearly 2 years.

Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey said the H&ND committee wanted to take another look at hotly debated language that would further limit the city’s ability to support affordable housing near transit, while maintaining an existing requirement that assisted, or subsidized, units be mixed in with market-rate product within a housing development. As defined in the policy, affordable housing means subsidized units serving households earning less than 60% of area median income.

Based on input it received from REBIC and others in the development industry, City staff had originally proposed softening the policy to allow developers to concentrate subsidized units in a single building that is part of a master-planned multifamily community. But committee members rejected this proposal last month, voting instead to keep the inclusionary requirement in place.

In what would prove to be his last regular Council meeting before stepping down to become the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Mayor Anthony Foxx voiced his concern about the impact the proposed amendments would have on the availability of affordable housing in Charlotte. Citing a study calling for the construction of another 17,000 affordable housing units in Charlotte, Foxx said he believed the policy changes approved by H&ND would make it even more difficult for the City to provide adequate housing for low-income households.

“We’re sending some mixed signals about housing in this community,” the Mayor said last week, before announcing he would have vetoed the policy changes had Council voted to approve them. “I’m worried that this will take another couple of arrows out of the quiver.”

The original Assisted Multifamily Housing at Transit policy, adopted in late 2001, has resulted in the construction of just 180 below-market, subsidized housing units along the Blue Line’s South transit corridor — a small fraction of the more than 2,100 total multifamily units added to the corridor in the last decade.

A series of meetings held last year with development industry representatives produced some ideas on how to revise the policy to help spur increased development of assisted housing in transit corridors, including:

  • Expanding the transit station radius to a half-mile;
  • Removing the maximum percentage of affordable units in a multi-family, mixed-income development;
  • Removing the required minimum densities for a transit corridor development, and;
  • Focusing on achieving mixed-income housing within a transit station area instead of within individual developments.

The City Council H&ND Committee may meet as early as July 10 to conduct another review of the proposed changes, to allow the full Council to vote on the issue before the end of the month.

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