Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Hungry Real Estate Investors Targeting Neighborhoods That Have Historically Been Home For Minorities, Immigrants, & The Poor Create Concern For Gentrification-Fearing, Low-Income Charlotte Residents Dreading Displacement

In Charlotte, North Carolina, The Charlotte Observer reports:
  • The sign posted in Martha McAfee’s yard sends a message to real-estate investors who comb the Enderly Park neighborhood looking for houses:

    “We can’t be bought.”

    But resistance from McAfee and some other residents is unlikely to stop the changes that are remaking one neighborhood after another in Charlotte. As new development spreads from uptown, luxury homes and trendy restaurants are edging closer to Enderly Park, a predominantly African-American neighborhood west of Bank of America Stadium.

    Like homeowners in other historically black areas across west Charlotte, McAfee and some residents now face a difficult choice: Take an immediate lucrative payoff from a real-estate investor or forego the money to help keep the neighborhood affordable for future generations.
    McAfee, 86, said she has seen the mailings and fliers offering cash for homes, but already has her mind made up. She lives in a three-bedroom, one-story house that once sold for $30,000, according to tax records. The house would now sell for about $101,000, roughly $3,700 increase in the last 30 days, says Zillow, a real-estate website.

    A former cook at multiple local hospitals before retiring a few years ago, she said she understands her neighborhood is changing and that some people need the money they could get for their homes. But she wants to leave the house as an inheritance to her children.

    “Why would I would I want to (sell)?” McAfee asked, saying she built roots in Enderly Park, where she is well known by neighborhood children. “When I die, my kids can do with it what they want to.”

    As the neighborhoods surrounding uptown Charlotte have become a preferred choice for well-off homebuyers and millenials, real-estate speculators and developers have increasingly targeted neighborhoods that for decades have been home to African-Americans, immigrants and the poor.

    The trend has spread fear that new investment will bring higher rents and taxes and eliminate some of the last remaining areas for inexpensive housing close to uptown.

    “We have been telling people ‘Don’t sell your homes’” to real-estate investors, said Frank Byers, 61, who has lived in Enderly Park for 17 years and is president of the West Side Community Land Trust.

    “I watched how Wilmore changed. I saw what happened in NoDa, ” Byers said, ticking off neighborhoods where gentrification brought higher home prices and altered the demographics of neighorhoods that were once populated by minorities, who mostly had lower incomes than the newcomers.
    The pros and cons of gentrification — the process that displaces the poor to make room for new, more wealthy residents — have long been debated. It is changing the demographics in parts of west Charlotte. Defunct warehouses and vacant lots adjacent to uptown are making way for trendy restaurants and pricey homes that rent for as much as $2,600 a month.

    But rough edges remain in Enderly Park, where the average household income is about $24,000 a year, less than half the the Mecklenburg County average. On a recent day, a yard sign near the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare advertised a one bedroom apartment for $595 a month.

    More than one in three residents lack a high school diploma and the violent crime rate is nearly five times the county average.

    Still, residents say their mailboxes are filled with advertisements offering cash for homes.


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