When more than 170 families at Lake Arbor Apartments received notice to move out, Crisis Assistance Ministry joined a partnership of six local agencies aimed at helping affected residents avoid homelessness as a result of their displacement. Named Project SAFE (Stop Apartments From Evicting), the purpose was to assess individual households’ need for possible relocation or financial assistance and determine community impact.
On July 30, 2019, letters were placed on 177 apartment doors in the largely low-income complex, announcing the landlord’s intent to vacate all units between August 2019 and early 2020. Given the shortage of lower-priced rental units in Charlotte, affected families, some of whom were given just 30 days notice, faced a daunting challenge in locating a new place to live within their budget.
Over a two-week period, representatives from the participating agencies and Mecklenburg County Homeless Support Services met with 72 households, representing 169 residents, to conduct tenant assessments. No financial assistance was distributed during the assessment phase and apartment management was not involved in the assessment process.
Key findings of Project SAFE reveal many families have multiple barriers to finding and relocating to affordable, alternative housing in the area’s tight rental market. The initial estimate of financial need for the 72 families that completed an assessment is close to $350,000, which would cover:
- Hotel expenses for 2-4 weeks for families that need to vacate in August and September
- Relocation expenses for all families such as moving and storage of belongings, security deposit, additional month’s rent, utility transfer, and reconnection fees, etc.
- Short-term rental subsidies for the lowest-income families
“With the help of this unprecedented partnership between six agencies, we now have a better understanding of the residents’ situations, the hurdles they face in securing alternative housing, and what is needed to make sure this displacement doesn’t lead to more homeless families,” said Carol Hardison, CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry. “Now comes the hardest work. It will take the community coming together to determine who, how, when, and with what money these families will receive help in finding and moving to safe, affordable housing.”
A coalition of community agencies continues to work together in support of Lake Arbor residents, but the expected need exceeds the current resources of those agencies. Additional funding is being sought to ensure these families remain stably housed and avoid the threat of homelessness.
Follow local media coverage for updates on this developing situation:
- The Charlotte Observer: Moving residents from west Charlotte complex to cost at least $350,000, nonprofits say
- WFAE: Displaced Lake Arbor Tenants Need $350K For Relocation, Agencies Say
- WSOC-TV: Residents Forced To Move So Apartment Complex Can Make Improvements
- Spectrum News: CLT Law Firm Gives Free Advice to Dozens ‘Facing Homelessness’
- Charlotte Observer: Ousted Charlotte Renters Don’t Know What Will Happen Next
- WFAE: Lake Arbor Closing Sends A Flood Of Tenants Into A Tight Rental Market
- WJZY FOX 46: Lake Arbor Apartments Forcing Tenants To Vacate