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Local News

Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church Is Tackling Charlotte’s Housing Crisis

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In a groundbreaking initiative in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church has transcended its spiritual mission to address a critical social issue: affordable housing. Under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker, the church has partnered with the city of Charlotte and Laurel Street Residential, a Black-founded real estate developer, to create the Varick on 7th apartment complex. This new development offers a range of housing options from studios to three-bedroom units, equipped with modern amenities like stainless steel appliances and full-size washers and dryers, but also integrates community-centric facilities such as a business center and a courtyard with a fire pit. Located at 721 E. 7th Street, Varick on 7th represents a pioneering community-driven development model, potentially replicable nationwide.

The project exemplifies a collaborative effort where the church’s community development corporation contributed crucial land from its uptown campus to combat the housing shortage in Charlotte. The region, according to The Charlotte Post, currently lacks approximately 26,000 affordable housing units, a gap exacerbated by rapid urban growth and gentrification in historically Black neighborhoods. Varick, on the 7th, named after the first bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church, aims to address these challenges by offering affordable and market-rate apartments. Rev. Dr. Walker emphasized the dual impact of such projects on community enhancement and the church’s financial sustainability, highlighting the broader implications for similar partnerships between real estate developers and community institutions. This strategic collaboration could serve as a blueprint for alleviating urban housing crises nationwide, offering a sustainable path forward for community development through church-led initiatives.