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September 19, 2022

How to be a Housing Voter Series: Vote “Yes!” for Housing Bonds

By Liz Crouse

If you’ve been a Charlotte voter for more than a couple of years, you’ve probably seen a bond measure on your ballot before. But what is a bond measure? And, how does the one that will be on the ballot on Tuesday, November 8 affect affordable housing and homeownership in the Charlotte area?

The City of Charlotte is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. In an earlier blog post in this series, we discussed in more detail what this means for the city and its residents. You can read the post here.

Once we understand the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte and in the United States, we can discuss one strategy that Charlotte is employing to address this emergency: issuing general obligation bonds to replenish the Housing Trust Fund.

what is the housing trust fund?

The Charlotte Housing Trust Fund (HTF) was established in 2001 to set aside funding for the construction of new affordable homes and preservation of existing housing in the Charlotte region. As the demand for housing in Charlotte and its surrounding communities increases, the HTF has provided funding for over 10,000 affordable units for people living and working in the area. Every two years, Charlotte voters decide if and how the fund should be replenished. More money for the HTF can be set aside if voters allow the City of Charlotte to issue bonds.


what is a bond?

A bond is a debt security. You can think of this as a sort of “IOU” that one entity issues (or sells) to other entities, whether that be individual consumers, corporations, or organizations. In the case of the housing bond, the City of Charlotte issues these bonds to “lenders” (or lending entities) under an agreement that the city will repay the lenders over a set amount of time with an agreed upon amount of interest.

When individuals vote on the bond measure, they are basically deciding whether to allow the City of Charlotte to issue these IOUs, which, if passed, would mean that the city is also committed to paying those lenders back over the coming years.

how does the bond measure affect affordable housing in Charlotte?

The HTF, biannually replenished by issuing bonds, is one funding source from the Charlotte municipal government for affordable housing projects. The HTF has funded over 10,000 housing units and provided nearly 900 beds in homeless shelters since its establishment in 2001.

While many community and governmental organizations are working hard to provide safe, affordable housing in Charlotte, it is imperative to have the financial support of the HTF, and it is even more important to have public support for affordable housing projects in the area. Here at Habitat of the Charlotte Region, we know that we can’t build our way out of the current affordable housing crisis alone—we also need community support, financial resources, and policy change to make affordable housing a reality for all Charlotteans.

Why should I vote “yes” for the bond measure on the ballot this November?

On Election Day this November, voters will decide whether the city of Charlotte can issue the bonds that fund the HTF. Voting “yes” for housing bonds is one of the easiest ways to be a housing voter and to advocate for affordable housing reform in the Charlotte area.

As of March of 2022, over 3,000 individuals are experiencing homelessness in Mecklenburg County according to Mecklenburg Housing Data, and in 2021, an estimated 31 percent of households were identified as “cost-burdened” by housing, according the North Carolina Housing Coalition.

The bottom line? Over a third of our neighbors do not have access to safe, cost-effective housing because the demand for housing has drastically increased while the supply of units has not caught up to the community’s changing needs. As Charlotte voters, we need to vote “YES” for the housing bond to provide a path forward that prevents deepening the housing crisis and ensures that all our neighbors have a safe, affordable place to call home.

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