CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Charlotte continues to grow, those who grew up in some areas of the city are watching gentrification set in.
People who live on the West Side are really seeing the reality of this. A non-profit called the West Side Community Land Trust is working hard to help preserve those communities and the people who live there.
R.J. Harvey works as a real estate development and construction project manager for the non-profit and currently has a big project ahead of him. In the next few weeks he plans to cut a three-bedroom home in half.
Harvey plans to take his decades worth of real estate and construction experience to help transform that home for a family on Charlotte’s West Side.
“If you are a family of three or four people, to have your own dedicated space, I mean that means so much,” he said.
Harvey lived in public housing as a kid in Mississippi, so he understands. Once he got older, he went to New York, and it was there where he really saw issues with housing and gentrification.
“Seeing what happened to neighborhoods like Harlem and Bed Stuy and Crown Heights and seeing what happened there it readied me for what we are dealing with today,” he said.
When Harvey finally came to Charlotte 13 years ago, he choose to live on the city’s West Side, but admits it's starting to look differently.
“I know gentrification, depending on the lens in which you’re looking through, can be this horrible thing, and I just want us to feel like we have a voice in it and a place in it, and we don’t have to feel like a victim,” he said.
That pushed Harvey to Charis Blackmon, who is the executive director of the West Side Community Land Trust. The non-profit recently purchased land in the Lincoln Heights Community.
Their goal is to move the home Harvey is working on, along with two others to that land, renovate them and then sell them to low income families so they too can achieve home ownership.
“In this neighborhood, two of the houses that sold up here are $350,000,” Blackmon said. “I’m a non-profit executive who cannot afford to purchase a house at that price point, and so for me the work that we’re doing for low income individuals is also the same work that’s necessary for me and other working class individuals.”
Moving and transforming homes is not an easy task, but it's an important one when it comes to the families this group is working to help.
“This is an opportunity now for us to create a legacy for folks where now it benefits that family,” Harvey said. “And as many times as this property will turn over in its lifetime, it will continue to do that.”
All three homes moving to Gilbert Street in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood were donated to the land trust. Their goal is to have all the homes renovated and moved by the end of the year.
If you are interested in donating your home, land, or signing up to own one of these homes you can find more information here.