May 14, 2019

A Three-Part Blog Series About the Lotus Campaign: A New Apprach to Affordable Housing

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard

The Lotus Campaign, which uses a market-based approach to address homelessness and housing affordability, launched in late July 2018.  The Lotus Campaign began with pilot projects in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is the third of three blog posts about their efforts. To read more about how the Lotus Campaign got started, click here for the first blog post; click here to read the second blog post explaining how the model works. This final post in the series describes the impact Lotus has had over the past nine months.

WHAT DO PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS SAY?

As part of its Landlord Participation Program pilot, the Lotus Campaign partners with participating landlords, such as Ginkgo Residential, Levine Properties, and Marsh Properties. Sponsoring Organizations include Charlotte Family Housing, Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Running Works and Urban Ministry Center.  To date, the program has facilitated housing for over 80 individuals with a goal of housing 250 people by the end of summer 2019.

SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS & LANDLORD PARTNER QUOTES

The following quotes, from both wraparound service providers and housing operators, serve as testimonials for the Lotus Campaign to date.

ELIZABETH KURTZ, CHIEF HOUSING OFFICER, CHARLOTTE FAMILY HOUSING

Historically, supportive services agencies have only been able to reduce barriers to housing for individual renters.  Lotus focuses on attracting housing providers, incentivizing them financially, and removing barriers to accepting renters. Charlotte Family Housing is excited to partner with Lotus for several reasons. We know that the multi-family owners participating in the program will offer our families homes that they will be proud of, and a level of customer service that gives them the dignity they deserve as they move toward self-sufficiency.”

MICHAELA DUCKETT, HOUSING & MARKETING COORDINATOR, RUNNING WORKS

“It has been a very positive and inspiring experience to work with the Lotus Campaign. RunningWorks has been a Sponsoring Organization for almost a year and in that time we’ve placed over 20 people into housing.  It’s been incredible to see the transformation in their lives… we have a number of participants that are well on their way to being self-sufficient..  This has been so awesome to see and wouldn’t be possible without our partnership with Lotus.”

GRACE MAYNARD, HOUSING SPECIALIST, URBAN MINISTRY CENTER

“Urban Ministry Center was the first Sponsoring Organization to sign on to the Lotus Campaign. Through [Lotus] our clients have been offered quality housing that would not otherwise be available to them.  Our intensive case management services help our clients succeed in their new homes. Once our clients become residents in a complex, they become part of the fabric of the community. This is a true testament to the power of housing and the efforts of the Lotus Campaign.”

DEAN DEVILLERS, LEVINE PROPERTIES

“Levine Properties has always hoped to try to find an efficient method or process to provide housing to people experiencing homelessness and workforce housing populations within the context of a market-rate housing development. What we love about our partnership with Lotus is it helps us achieve these very goals.”

WHAT DO THE NUMBERS SAY?

The Landlord Participation Program provides an opportunity to make an immediate impact by addressing barriers to housing that benefit residents and landlords. The Lotus Campaign also recognizes the need for multiple approaches to fully address housing instability and homelessness in the community.

As its first project, the Lotus Campaign invested in a multi-family property, Sharon Crossing.  The community is located in Southwest Charlotte, within one mile of the LYNX Light Rail station and a newly renovated shopping center with a 24-hour grocery store.  Thirty units (21%) will be reserved for the Landlord Participation Program, providing housing for a minimum of 48 people currently experiencing homelessness; the remainder of the units will be preserved as quality, workforce housing. Workforce housing refers to housing affordable to households between 80% and 120% of area median income (AMI). Using a social impact investment model with market rate debt and private equity, the Lotus Campaign plans to invest in more housing developments to help create a long-term supply of housing for people experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

SO, WHAT

The Lotus Campaign uses a market-based approach to address the shortage of affordable housing. Its model seeks to unlock private capital to address homelessness and housing affordability; reduce economic risk by considering the perspective of landlords and owner/operators; be nimble, scalable and replicable; remain independent of public subsidy; and incorporate an impact investment and development model of doing good and doing well.

Notably, approximately $900 helps facilitate housing for one person per year through the Lotus Campaign’s Landlord Participation Program.

The Lotus Campaign plans to develop its proof of concept this first year: identifying the parts of its model which are replicable and scalable as well as elements requiring tailoring for other markets.  The Lotus Campaign has plans to scale to other communities, both by setting up new Landlord Participation Programs and through expanding to ten markets in the next three years.

Learn more about how the Lotus Campaign works here.

READ ORIGINAL VERSION