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  • Writer's pictureJohn Hamrick

Program helps community workers afford Lake Norman rentals

March 14, 2024 by Lindsay Krone, Lake Norman Citizen


CORNELIUS – Increasing property values may be a boon for local homeowners, but renters are feeling a squeeze that is forcing them to move further and further away from the Lake Norman area.


Michelle Hoverson, executive director of the Lake Norman Community Development Corporation, said the concern is most striking when it comes to public service professions, like teachers, police officers and pharmacy technicians. The Lake Norman CDC is a nonprofit that advances affordable housing opportunities for moderate-income earners in northern Mecklenburg County.

“We want people who are serving the communities to be able to live amongst the people they are serving,” Hoverson said.


Housing is deemed affordable if less than 30 percent of the family’s gross income is spent on housing costs, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and other fees, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Hoverson said that many people don’t realize that making affordable housing attainable doesn’t mean building more low-income housing.

It means bridging the gap between average rent prices and salaries. An income of more than $84,000 a year is necessary to afford the average rent price of a two-bedroom apartment in Huntersville, Cornelius or Davidson. Teachers make an average of $44,000 and police officers make an average of almost $51,000, and statistics show that currently, about 90 percent of workers in the three towns live elsewhere.

“(We want) to help people move closer to where they work,” Hoverson said. “It’s one more car off I-77, it takes a lot of stress out of people’s lives to try to get to their children’s activities or if there is an emergency so they can get to work in a shorter period of time, and it leaves money for other necessities of life.”

The Lake Norman CDC offers three programs: home preservation, which helps people stay in their current affordable housing, senior rental relief, which helps elders living on a fixed income, and the rental bridge program, which helps people working in these communities make rent so they can live nearby. Hoverson explained that the rental bridge program is still relatively new, so she’s working hard to spread the word that moderate-income earners can apply for assistance. She has spoken before town boards and set up meetings with local police departments.

The program is not emergency housing or a government voucher program, such as those offered under Section 8. The parameters for the rental bridge program are different.


Housing is deemed affordable if less than 30 percent of the family’s gross income is spent on housing costs, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and other fees, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Hoverson said that many people don’t realize that making affordable housing attainable doesn’t mean building more low-income housing.

It means bridging the gap between average rent prices and salaries. An income of more than $84,000 a year is necessary to afford the average rent price of a two-bedroom apartment in Huntersville, Cornelius or Davidson. Teachers make an average of $44,000 and police officers make an average of almost $51,000, and statistics show that currently, about 90 percent of workers in the three towns live elsewhere.

“(We want) to help people move closer to where they work,” Hoverson said. “It’s one more car off I-77, it takes a lot of stress out of people’s lives to try to get to their children’s activities or if there is an emergency so they can get to work in a shorter period of time, and it leaves money for other necessities of life.”

The Lake Norman CDC offers three programs: home preservation, which helps people stay in their current affordable housing, senior rental relief, which helps elders living on a fixed income, and the rental bridge program, which helps people working in these communities make rent so they can live nearby. Hoverson explained that the rental bridge program is still relatively new, so she’s working hard to spread the word that moderate-income earners can apply for assistance. She has spoken before town boards and set up meetings with local police departments.

The program is not emergency housing or a government voucher program, such as those offered under Section 8. The parameters for the rental bridge program are different.


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