Covenant is acting on affordable housing


"Not quite unheard of, but still radical."

Urban Land Magazine used those words to describe Covenant's role in a venture taking shape on Freedom Drive.

The Mezzanine at Freedom apartments, supported by our congregation through For a Whole Community, will begin accepting applications this month in preparation for a phased opening in spring and summer.

Out of 185 apartments, two-thirds will be rented at below-market rates to people earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income. The rest will be set at market rates.

Without Covenant's involvement, the community would have struggled to simultaneously lower its rents and earn investors a competitive return.

“It’s a public/private/faith-based model,” said Ben Cuevas, who oversees real estate development for CMHP. “We can only do it because of the partnership.”

In 2017, a group of Planning & Evaluation Board members, including John Baxter, Mary Delk, Nancy Falls, Paul Finnen, Betsy Grant, Anne McQuiston, Susan Lawson, and Carl Powell, formed a team to consider how to respond to Charlotte's affordable housing crisis.

This team’s work led to a relationship with Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership (CMHP) and a commitment of $2 million to make monthly rents accessible across the economic spectrum. Covenant member Liz Ward, who leads the development team for CMHP, was instrumental, as was Julie Porter, president of CMHP.

Urban Land Magazine recently named the project as one of six cutting-edge developments in the Carolinas.

Paul Steffens and David Jones, both attorneys at Troutman Sanders, provided pro bono assistance with legal needs. Drew Quartapella helped with the structure of the loan.

Once the capital campaign was launched, the Affordable Housing Implementation Team, led by Joe Taylor and including Betsy Grant and Jeff Harris, monitored construction progress.

Joe and Betsy also talked to congregations and civic groups about how others might respond in a similar way. In all, they engaged more than 1,500 people, helping inspire multiple projects within the faith community.

With construction nearing completion, the Mission and Outreach team is developing plans to support future residents. Julia plans to move to the community later this year.

“This is a monumental time in our church’s history and I very sincerely thank all the members of Covenant and the community for their overwhelming interest,” said Joe.