Salvation Army preserves Uptown low-income housing through $11 million sale

Salvation Army preserves Uptown low-income housing through $11 million sale
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The Salvation Army has sold an aging Uptown apartment community for low-income seniors.

But in a twist on what’s typical in Charlotte, Booth Gardens in historic Fourth Ward will not be torn down. Its new owners have committed to keeping the property as subsidized housing for at least 20 more years.

As Charlotte continues to debate the best way to preserve and expand its affordable housing options, the deal brokered by the Salvation Army marks an innovative way to accomplish these goals.

The nonprofit joins a growing list of Christian groups who are chipping in to tackle the problem of rising costs that make it more difficult for the city’s poorest to find stable homes.

Covenant Presbyterian is investing $2 million in building an affordable housing community in west Charlotte. Myers Park Presbyterian also continues to build low-income housing in Grier Heights.

[Agenda story: As Charlotte battles social injustice, churches are stepping up to the plate]

The Booth Gardens apartments, from Poplar Street.

The Salvation Army’s Booth Gardens community comprises 128 apartments in Uptown’s historic Fourth Ward.

Residents must earn less than 50 percent of the area median income — or less than $24,750 for a single adult.

The latest definitions of affordable housing and median income.

Once in Booth Gardens, the seniors pay 30 percent of their income in rent and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pays the rest.

The Salvation Army set up the program 40 years ago, with a mortgage on the apartments and a long-term deal with HUD. A year or so ago, both of those contracts were running out — and the property was in bad need of renovation of repair.

The local board of the Salvation Army debated what to do, said area commander Major Larry Broome. Should they take out a new mortgage for repairs? Could they relocate the residents if they needed to?

Around that time, they received an offer to buy the property. That wasn’t unusual. With its coveted location, they’d had multiple inquiries.

But this one came from GHC Housing Partners, a California firm known for owning and managing subsidized housing across the country. They offered to take over the property, form a new agreement with HUD, keep the current residents and staff — and, crucially, to renovate the building.

The Salvation Army did their due diligence, even traveling to another property recently acquired by GHC.

It seemed like a win-win, Broome said. So they made a deal.

The property fetched $11.75 million in the sale, according to county property records.

The money will help fund the Salvation Army’s initiatives on affordable housing.

And it will also help make up for a Christmas season that brought in fewer donations than expected, Broome said. While the sale of the property helps, it doesn’t eliminate the nonprofit’s pressing needs, he pointed out.

In Charlotte, the Salvation Army operates a homeless shelter, disaster relief and other vital services.

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