Recent homeless statistics were made public by Mecklenburg County. According to the data, the county’s homeless population grew by 3 percent between 2021 and 2022. This year, there are around 100 more homeless people than previous year. Mecklenburg County Commissioner At-Large Pat Cotham acknowledged that the figures present a more comprehensive picture of the issue, but she also noted that new insights have been gained.
“It’s a major topic nationally and locally,” said Cotham. “So you have to take it with a little grain of salt… well maybe bag of salt. Everything has been skewed from COVID-19. That’s when we had a lot of housing for homelessness a lot of people who were on the street and had COVID and needed a place to stay.”
The decline of affordable housing was also cited as a reason for the increase. In 2011, the percentage of the housing stock that is affordable has decreased from 45% to 13%. The issue of affordable housing has been discussed at length by the Charlotte City Council, according to Councilman Ed Driggs, but the Council’s hands are sometimes tied.
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“Our housing programs are aimed at a different demographic and we rely on the county,” Driggs said. Cotham noted the challenge that developers face when deciding to provide affordable housing. It’s getting more and more expensive to buy a piece of land in the County. If it’s worth it to buy pricey land and build cheap housing on it, developers may wonder.
“You have to remember the builders are in business, they are not there, a lot of them want to help but they have a payroll,” Cotham said. “They need to make money for their own families. They are not social workers.”
Cotham said it was up to city officials to stimulate construction now. There are several resources available to you if you are at risk of being homeless in the near future.
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