On July 13, 2022, HUD's Region IV Senior Leadership: Mr. José Alvarez (Regional Administrator), Ms. Tiffany Cobb (Deputy Regional Administrator), and North Carolina Field Office team members visited Charlotte, North Carolina. The purpose of the visit was to meet with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and other Charlotte and statewide housing partners to discuss Secretary Fudge's affordable housing priorities and areas for future collaboration.
Over recent years, Charlotte experienced tremendous growth in new residents and high-wealth companies moving into the city. Although this change benefits some residents, it has also created challenges for the city's more vulnerable residents. Mayor Lyles stated that her goals were to create safe, decent places to live, with jobs that allow residents to live the way they want and transportation available to get them there. She emphasized that their programs focus on upward mobility, of which housing combined with employment is essential.
The Charlotte City Council recently voted to adopt a new city policy designed to protect prospective tenants from discrimination based on their source of income. The decision prevents voucher holders from being disqualified from renting a unit because they participate in a rental subsidy program. The goal of this decision is to not only improve the lease-up rate of existing vouchers but also allow voucher holders to live in "high opportunity" areas of the city, with more jobs, better schools, and less crime.
Regional Administrator Alvarez noted how the execution of programs in the city aligns with HUD's mission and Secretarial priorities. In addition, he praised Mayor Lyles for being one of the first mayors in the country to sign Secretary Fudge's House America initiative and working diligently to use Emergency Housing Vouchers and create new affordable housing and pathways for homeownership. Finally, Mr. Alvarez amplified HUD's message in the new 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, One HUD for all, and shared, "We are successful because of our work in collaboration with Mayors, Governors, County leadership, non-profits, and other partners."
Following the meeting, the Regional Administrator hosted a forum with Charlotte and State Housing Partners to discuss the Secretary's priorities. Attendees included Fulton Meachem, the CEO of Inlivian (formerly the Charlotte Housing Authority), Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners George Dunlap, City Council Member Victoria Watlington, Renaissance West Community Initiative CEO William "Mack" McDonald, North Carolina Office of Resiliency and Recovery Chief Operating Office, Laura Hogshead, North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Scott Farmer and others.
Mr. Alvarez visited Renaissance West Community Initiative (RWCI) after the affordable housing forum. RWCI's mission is to promote a collaborative community centered on quality housing, education, health, wellness, and opportunity. Mr. McDonald discussed the connection between RWCI's place-based education, job training, and support programs that align with the Secretary's initiatives.
The RWCI campus includes mixed-income affordable housing, a K-8 Charter School, 5-Star Childhood Development Center, Community Center, and the Retreat at Renaissance apartments for low-income seniors and the disabled. RWCI's predecessor was the recipient of HOPE VI funding. After the RWCI tour, Mr. Alvarez, Ms. Cobb, and the NC Field Office team visited mixed-income properties currently in development, including Dillehay Courts and Archdale Flats.
The day concluded with a meeting with Inlivian, which currently has 4,000 units of affordable housing in development in high-opportunity areas of the city. The group discussed Inlivian's progress on HUD initiatives and Emergency Housing Vouchers, including potential opportunities for housing navigators to identify housing for voucher holders and expanded source of income protections. The Field Office Director, Roosevelt A. Grant, summed up the visit with, "I am grateful that the Southeast Regional Administrator and Deputy Regional Administrator were able to spend time with the Field Office staff and to engage in meaningful dialogue with the mayor and other key state and local leaders as we continue to promote the importance of HUD's mission to expand affordable housing in the Charlotte, Mecklenburg area."