The City of Charlotte awarded a local nonprofit funding to house people with criminal backgrounds during at Monday night’s council business meeting.
Freedom Fighting Missionaries, a Charlotte-based organization that supports people who were formally incarcerated, will receive $2 million to support the construction of two affordable housing projects.
The funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act and will support the construction of 37 affordable townhouse units at two locations.
The first property, called Missionary Grove, will be located at 5735 W.T. Harris Boulevard and will be made up of 16 rental units.
The second property, Sardony Lane Townhomes, will have 21 units for rent at 2135 W.T. Harris Blvd.
The properties will be made up of two- and three-bedroom townhomes.
Why it matters: In 2022, Black people made up only 31% of the Mecklenburg County population but more than 75% of the county’s incarcerated and homeless populations were Black, according to a recent data report from UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute.
Many people with criminal backgrounds face homelessness due to multiple barriers, Kenneth Robinson, the founder and executive director of Freedom Fighting Missionaries, said.
While income is a common barrier to housing, it is not the only one, he said. Renting is inaccessible to many families because of their criminal backgrounds.
“[Freedom Fighting Missionaries] has families who make $70,000 or $100,000 or more but they still have a [criminal] background, and it makes it difficult for them to rent a place,” Robinson told QCity Metro.
Robinson said housing inaccessibility, or homelessness, can negatively impact mental health.
“Imagine overcoming what you’ve overcome, getting employed, working, saving your money, then go out to try to rent some place and you get denied time after time after time because of your background,” Robinson said.
Families can apply for the Housing Support Grant through the Freedom Fighting Missionaries.
Rent will vary based on the size and income of each family but will start as low as $457 and go up to $1,600, Robinson said.
He also said Freedom Fighting Missionaries has committed to keeping these townhomes affordable for the next 30 years.
The housing project aims to not only prevent homelessness but also prepare residents for homeownership, too.
“The goal is for the residents who will come into any of our housing developments to be able to move on to homeownership,” Robinson said.
Residents will have supportive services available to them – including financial literacy workshops, credit repair and homeownership counseling – to make homeownership more attainable for families
Construction is expected to take around 18 months to complete, with families moving in as early as late 2025, Robinson said.