CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Varick on 7th isn’t your average new Uptown Charlotte development. Little Rock AME Zion Church partnered with developers, community groups and the city to bring new affordable housing options to the area.
“Homelessness is happening in Charlotte,” Dr. Dwayne Walker, Pastor of Little Rock AME said. “Then hearing the plight of so many of our young people and others who are looking for homes and just being so out priced.”
Crews are in the early stages of what will be a five story apartment building on the land at Little Rock AME Zion.
“We were able to put our land into the project and then get the land from the City of Charlotte which made the that parcel large enough to accommodate 105 units of housing with half of it being affordable,” Dr. Walker said.
50 units will rent between 30, 60, and 80% of the area median income. For a family of four, 30% of the AMI is $25,250. Dr. Walker’s church is one of close to a dozen faith-based organizations partnering with the City of Charlotte to address what leaders call a housing crisis.
Right now, the Queen City is short at least 25,000 units meaning thousands of families are paying more than they can afford for housing.
Warren Wooten, Assistant Director of Housing in Charlotte says these faith-based housing initiatives are a part of a bigger picture approach to make the city more inclusive and livable.
“It’s not a drop in the bucket for the people that live there,” Wooten said. “So it is part of an overall strategy to increase the housing stock in the city by building new units, protecting the existing housing stock there, and then working with households to improve their income.”
In many cases, developers are mixing affordable units with market rate units.
“By adding market rates, it just changes the pro forma of the project,” Wooten said. “It allows things like the project to carry more debt, which means that we can leverage private money to create more units.”
For these partnerships to work, faith-based organizations offer up land or money. In some cases, land was sitting untouched for years before development.
“It’s great to see what the faith community has been able to do,” Wooten said. “I think there’s still a bunch of untapped potential out there to really continue to increase the number of units that we have out there.”
For Dr. Walker, he believes this project is the Lord’s work. He explains the goal like a Bible story.
“Peter and John say silver and gold we do not have, but what we do have we give to you in the name of Jesus rise up and walk,” Wooten recalled. “Our hope is that we can help people get up and walk, whatever we can do to get people up.”
Varick on 7th is scheduled to finish by July of 2023.
Units will have washers and dryers, balconies, and other features. The complex will include amenities like grill stations, firepits, fitness center, turf game lawn and more. Dr. Walker says people have already been calling the church interested in renting an apartment.