3 ways to learn about affordable housing solutions

A bungalow for sale in 2012 in the Villa Heights neighborhood. Photo: Nancy Pierce

What can the community do to encourage and protect housing that more low-income families can afford? Three upcoming events at UNC Charlotte will look at the many interrelated issues, from development challenges to neighborhood action to innovations. All events are free and open to the public.


This day-long event starts at 10 a.m. with coffee and bagels, includes two panel discussions among community leaders. It ends with a 5:30 p.m. reception. All events are at the UNC Charlotte Center City building. 

This event is free but registration is required.  Click here to register.

Sponsors are the UNC Charlotte School of Architecture and the UNC-Greensboro Department of Interior  Architecture’s Novem Mason Symposium on Community-Engaged Design.

The symposium begins Wednesday, March 29, with workshops for students in Charlotte and Greensboro. Charlotte workshops are:

  • Workshop 1: Affordable Housing Development Challenges (Forget Studio + Optimist Park)
  • Workshop 2: Options for Historic Neighborhoods (Davis Studio + Cherry Neighborhood)
  • Workshop 3: Charlotte’s Most Insecure Residents (Sauda Studio + Charlotte Men’s Shelter)



10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – Current Housing Challenges Facing our Cities. Panelists are Ely Portillo, Charlotte Observer reporter; John Howard, Historic Districts Administrator at the City of Charlotte and president, Revolution Park neighborhood association; Pam Wideman, deputy directory, Charlotte Department of Neighborhood & Business Services; Nadia M. Anderson, director, UNC Charlotte City.Building.Lab; Kenneth J. Gruber, Ph.D., senior research scientist, Center for Youth, Family, and  Community Partnerships at UNC-Greensboro. Moderator is Travis Hicks, director, UNC-Greensboro Center for Community-Engaged Design.

12-2 p.m. – Student engagement workshops

2-3:30 p.m. – Project presentations from students and faculty.

3:30-5 p.m. – Community-Engaged Design Solutions to Housing Challenges. Panelists are Dionne Nelson, president and CEO, Laurel Street; Liz Clasen-Kelly, director, Men’s Shelter of Charlotte; Travis Hicks, director, UNC-G Center for Community-Engaged Design; Josie Williams, project coordinator, Collaborative Cottage Grove, Greensboro Housing Coalition. Moderator is Nadia M. Anderson, director, UNC Charlotte City.Building.Lab.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative Building. Photo: By Wilber Reyes01, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39678830

5-7 p.m. – Closing remarks and reception


7-8:30 p.m. at UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services, Room 155. This evening showing highlights the film Holding Ground, a nationally recognized documentary about residents of a Boston neighborhood who move their community from disinvestment to revitalization.

Holding Ground bills itself as “at once a cautionary tale of urban policies gone wrong and a message of hope for all American cities.”  Work on the film began in 1990, as two filmmakers documented the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in the Roxbury neighborhood. Holding Ground aired on public television in 1997.

The event is sponsored by Advocates for Change and UNC Charlotte’s Campus Compact, a collaborative effort to increase campus-wide participation in community and public service.



This daylong symposium at UNC Charlotte Center City features multiple presenters who will touch on public education, health, evictions and other topics. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and the event ends with a reception 4-5 p.m. The event, sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Campus Compact, is free but registration is requested. Parking is free for those who register. Click here to register.

Maurice Jones

Keynote speaker, 2:30-4 p.m. Maurice Jones, president and CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national nonprofit with 32 local offices and a rural program active in 1,400 U.S. counties, will speak at 2:30 p.m. Before taking the LISC post, Jones was secretary of commerce for the commonwealth of Virginia, and previously was deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Social Services and deputy chief of staff to former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. Raised by his grandparents in a rural Virginia community where his family had a tobacco and corn farm, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hampden-Sydney College and was a Rhodes Scholar.

Other events:

9-10 a.m. Context: Setting the Stage – Charlotte historian Tom Hanchett will look back at red-lining, “urban renewal,” and other historic forces that affected housing instability. Ashley Clark, assistant director of the Institute for Social Capital at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will discuss the institute's reports that look at housing and homeless issues. Click here to see a 2016 report and click here to see the most recent report.

10-11:30 a.m. Intersections –  Presenters will look at housing instability from a variety of community vantage points: public education, Justin Perry of OneMECK; health, Mark DeHaven, UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services; evictions and habitable conditions, Ted Fillette of Legal Aid; design, Nadia Anderson of the UNC Charlotte School of Architecture; community integration, Justin Markel, Helping Homeless to Housing.

1-2:15 p.m. Solutions: Models, Practice and Action – Presenters will be Courtney Morton, Mecklenburg County government; Greg Jarrell, West Side Community Land Trust; Donnetta Collier, Self-Help; Pat Newell, Johnson C. Smith University, Foster Care Initiative.  

Click here to see the full schedule.