CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bill Heath’s parents bought their Ashley Park home brand new in 1952 and passed it down to him. What he and his wife, Candace, love most about it is its location.
“You can go and hit I-77, I-85, go north, south, east and west in a matter of like a couple of minutes,” he said.
Heath says it was a mostly white neighborhood when his parents moved in, but 2020 census data shows the area is 65% Black now, and the median annual household income is a little over $45,000 — compared with Mecklenburg County’s $75,000.
“We both work and actually almost living week to week it’s so tough here lately,” Heath said.
His and his wife’s budget is about to get tighter. Their property value is expected to nearly double this year, hiking their taxes again.
The neighborhood’s convenient location brought it a lot of attention from individuals and corporate buyers, boosting the value of homes within the last decade. Their value went from $88,000 in 2011 to $129,000 when Mecklenburg County revalued last in 2019, raising their tax bill, too.
“They’ve gone up 400 and something dollars,” Heath said.
They’re expecting the county’s new value of their home any day, and this time around, the lowest-valued homes will see the biggest increase.
According to the county assessor, homes upwards of $400,000 could see a 49% boost in value, potentially increasing their tax bill by 6%. Homes valued around $230,000 could see their value go up by 63%. And the lowest-priced homes, like Heath’s, could see an 89% jump in value, possibly raising their tax bill by 27%.
“I feel like I’m working for nothing,” said Heath’s wife, Candace Heath.
She calls the big value jump unfair and believes it’s intentional.
“As I went to bed last night, I actually thought about it, and the first thing came to my mind is the Jim Crow of our housing market,” she said.
Gentrification has a lot to do with it — County Assessor Ken Joyner says lower-income areas that buyers would often overlook are now more desirable to corporations wanting to rent out properties, because of the affordability and location. But he says he’s just doing his job to keep home values up to date with the housing market.
“I believe that the more frequently we revalue the properties and bring them to current market value, it’s better for all of our customers,” he said. “Because if we leave large gaps of time, and properties are going up at different rates, no one is paying their fair share.”
Candace Heath says working class homeowners are paying more than their fair share.
Turned off by the higher taxes and constant building in their once-quiet neighborhood, the Heaths are putting their home up for sale and looking to buy in South Carolina.
Homeowners have until June 9 to file an appeal on their new values. County commissioners are set to vote on the tax rate in June, and the new tax bills are due in September.