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Cornelius News

Town will consider non-profit to tackle workforce housing crisis

Photo by Jason Benavides

Jan. 4. By Dave Yochum. An affordable/workforce housing committee appointed by Mayor Woody Washam is calling for the formation of a community development corporation to manage through the issues surrounding those workers and retirees who can’t afford to live in Cornelius.

A CDC would look for options and resources to help provide rental assistance for Cornelius families and households currently in rent-burdened circumstances.

Other short-term actions include:

• Obtaining resources and expertise to expand availability of transitional housing assistance for individuals and families needing a bridge between homelessness/emergency housing and permanent affordable housing.

• Expand and grow the incentive pay for town employees to encourage them to live in the town where they serve.

Over the past 30 years, the town’s population has grown tenfold while the number of jobs has doubled.

Put another way, there were twice as many jobs in Cornelius as there were residents in 1990.

“Today there are almost three times as many residents as there are jobs,” according to the Mayor’s Housing Study Committee.

‘Drastic’ reduction in housing opportunities

A shortage of homes creates challenging dynamics.

Average rent in Cornelius

$1,875 per month

One thousand two hundred people live and work in Cornelius today, while 12,000 people live in Cornelius but work elsewhere, according to the report. Imagine the impact on traffic if more people lived and worked here.

“The result of these dramatic population changes and related rise in housing costs has been a drastic reduction in housing opportunities and increase in cost burdens for Cornelius residents,” the report states.

Indeed, a third of households renting a dwelling in Cornelius are paying more than 30 percent of household income for rent. Many pay more than 50 percent, the report says.

It means that key members of the community—ranging from police officers to teachers—can’t afford to live in Cornelius because there is a limited supply of small homes, townhomes, duplexes and triplexes and condominiums.

High-prices across the board

The majority of the townhomes sold over the past 90 days in Cornelius went for between $300,000 and $400,000, the price of a larger single-family home in many parts of Charlotte and Huntersville, based on a review of closings on Zillow.

For diverse communities to thrive, more people need to be able to afford to live near jobs, good schools and transit.


“The benefit of having our public safety officers and teachers living here is immeasurable. In addition, the actual workers available to staff our many banks, restaurants, offices and retail establishments would fuel our local economy,” said Washam.

CDC, defined

Community development corporations (CDCs) are non-profit organizations that are created to support their communities, frequently with the development of affordable or workplace housing. They can receive funding from public and private sources.

Structurally, a CDC has a contractual relationship with the town. According to Michelle Hoverson, who presented the housing committee report to the Town Board, there are funding sources that will support CDCs but will not give money to a town—and you don’t get money from outside sources without a plan.

The goal is to launch the CDC in 2022 and build community consensus on a long-range Cornelius comprehensive housing plan by July 2022, Hoverson said.

The Town Board is expected to take up the establishment of a CDC at their Jan. 18 meeting.