Charlotte eviction crisis ‘affecting the most vulnerable’ | Housing advocates seeking solutions to provide representation for low-income tenants

“If the person doesn’t have any representation, they don’t really have anybody to bargain and argue on their behalf," attorney Ismaail Qaiyim said.

Charlotte housing advocates are calling on Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leaders to invest in more resources for tenants. 

Housing Justice Coalition is demanding the right to counsel to help people stay in their homes after the region has seen rent hikes, thousands of people facing evictions and many being forced to move out. 

For people facing eviction and are low income, it would provide a free attorney to help them navigate the court system and know their rights as a tenant. It’s something housing advocates say is desperately needed.

According to UNC Charlotte, it’s increasingly hard to afford housing in the Queen City. Prices continue to rise, and while the number of housing units has increased, supply still lags behind demand. 

“Affordable housing continues to be a top priority for the board, top priority for the community, we have to continue to figure out how we provide access and more opportunities for people,” Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said.

“We see that there is an eviction crisis that’s occurred as a result of all these factors coming together, affecting the most vulnerable population of people at or below the 30% area median income,” attorney Ismaail Qaiyim with Housing Justice Coalition & Queen City Community Law Firm said. 

As Mecklenburg County courts process evictions, housing advocates are pushing to ensure low-income residents have legal representation. 

“The way the legal process works, if the person doesn’t have any representation, they don’t really have anybody to bargain and argue on their behalf to maybe give them the time to make that payment up,” Qaiyim said. 

The Housing Justice Coalition is asking Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Commissioners to provide $50 million in funding for a right to counsel with the goal being low-income tenants not having to fight their landlords by themselves. 

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