Lake Norman Publications

Bungalow rent plan fuels affordable housing public inquiry

The Bungalows along Jetton Street are a source of community pride and a 22-year-old example of affordable housing success. /Lee Sullivan

DAVIDSON – Matters related to The Bungalows remain a burr in the saddle of the Davidson Housing Coalition (DHC) and affordable housing clients and advocates, triggering public comments to town officials.

At the town board’s Nov. 15 session, the prominent topic of public input was a recently distributed notice about rent increases at the multi-unit complex on Jetton Street, which has been a model of affordable housing achievement in the Lake Norman region for more than two decades.

At the outset of the meeting, Town Manager Jamie Justice read a statement acknowledging the town was aware of and “concerned” about notifications distributed about potential rent increases referencing a Jan. 1 implementation, and was urging the DHC – which manages the facilities along with its partner Mosaic – to communicate with residents to clarify the issues.

Minutes later, DHC Executive Director Gerald Wright addressed the board, confirming rent increases were expected, but that levels and effective dates were undetermined. And Wright, who said statements to clarify the situation had been distributed, added the DHC was “deeply regretful of the stress caused” by incomplete information.

Public comments delivered at the meeting – along with voicemail messages delivered to the board – expressed concerns about potential rental increases of up to 20 percent.

The rental issues come after an extensive, months-long repair project at The Bungalows to satisfy building code standards, and last month’s announcement that the complex will be placed on the open market to satisfy the project-exiting policies of the majority owner investment group.

The DHC has declared its intentions to retain ownership of the facility with Mosaic or, if necessary, through another partnership approach.

The issue is likely destined for continued public discussion, with Wright and DHC Board Chair Emeritus Margo Williams both telling town board members the goal remains to keep units at The Bungalows affordable.

“Rent increases are a matter of last resort,” Wright said.

With Williams, who was part of the 1999 effort to establish The Bungalows, adding, “We have fought to keep rents low. We will continue that fight.”

5 responses to “Bungalow rent plan fuels affordable housing public inquiry”

  1. Bobby says:

    This issue is important and thank you for your coverage. The residents of the Bungalows are beloved members of our community and you should cover their perspective, concerns, and experiences over the past year on this matter, not just the position of the responsible parties.

  2. Joe Papovich says:

    Thanks for reporting this. Maybe a follow-up story reporting on the worries of the Bungalow’s residents would help us better appreciate this matter

  3. Tina says:

    23 Nov 2022

    God bless Margot Williams but I would like to know who they fought to keep rents low and when? Certainly there was no fight this year.

    The notice of the new rent increase was sent with the exact same wording at those residents have received for at LEAST the past 5 years. The only differences were the dated and amount of the increase.

    This notice arrives at roughly the same time every year, in keeping with a policy of a minimum of 30 days notice for rent increases. The increase of $150 is 600% higher than the largest increase ($25) since the Bungalows were built. Who decided it was a good idea to do this to residents with incomes less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI)? (AMI for Davidson was $131,144 in 2020.)

    The unheard of rent increase comes after Mecklenburg County code enforcement declared 7 sets of external stairs to be unsafe and ordered them all to be replaced. The total cost for replacement was over $112,000. (See public records at the Mecklenburg County code enforcement website.)

    Is this rent increase to force residents to pay for these improvements? With a $150 monthly increase for 32 units, someone nets $4,800 a month (and $57,600 in a year). With the Bungalows being put on the market for sale any day now, those are tidy sums to gather until the property is sold.

  4. John says:

    The Bungalow residents have had quite an emotional roller coaster ride over the past few years including intimidation from a now “transferred” maintenance man. (Where is he now and is he doing the same thing? ) I would love to learn of the residents’ experiences and feelings along the way. .
    Public-private, tax credit funded, affordable rental units need greater safe guards, transparency, and oversight (by the public or by government agencies) to be sure the short and long repair costs are planned for and funds set aside. There seem to be some behind-the-scenes investor motivations we need to learn about and to avoid in the future- especially when the tax credit beneficiary has to fund substantial repairs or wants sell to avoid investing in repairs. Please share more details.

  5. Anna says:

    This is an important story. Have you investigated the rent increases the Davidson Housing Coalition has levied on their other rental properties for 2023? This would be important information for the public to know. If the Bungalows received the highest rental increase for 2023 than all other rental properties managed by the Davidson Housing Coalition, is it possible those residents are being forced to pay for a safety issue the DHC caused themselves by not fully maintaining those stairs as promised in a letter dated 2013? Cost increases associated with maintenance are the same whether it’s the Bungalows or Creekside Corner. Will you ask about and make public this comparison?

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