Rebuilding Neighborhoods

While South Charlotte and the Lake Norman area continue to grow with multi-million dollar homes, inner city communities struggle to survive. Concerted efforts in some areas have decreased crime, rebuilt homes and generated a new spirit among neighbors.
Project housing, which began in 1940 and reached its zenith during the 1960s urban renewal, is being rethought in Charlotte and nationwide. The “renaissance of Earle Village” is a local example. With money from a federal grant and private investors, municipal leaders hope to create a community with a cross section of incomes and neighbors.

A Sturdy Roof

Early projects were intended to replace substandard housing for both whites and blacks. Occupants were required to be “natural or cohesive American families.”

Photo: 5/19/57 - Article: unknown

A post-war population boom created a demand for affordable housing. Belvedere Homes was completed in March 1953. Its sister project, “Southside Homes was built for Negroes.”

Symbols of poor housing, shotgun houses were named for their architectural style and were not unique to urban settings. A few of these houses are available for viewing at the African American Cultural Center.

Photo: 1/27/86 - Article: 1/28/86 (Diedra Laird)

Photo: 11/10/81 - Article: 11/11/81 (Bill Billings)

Not all housing was government sponsored. United House of Prayer for All People built a low income apartment complex at the corner of 9th and Davidson Streets. It is no longer in use.

Neighbor to Neighbor
Structures alone cannot create a community. Grassroots efforts by residents are also necessary. “Taking Back Our Neighborhoods Carolina Crime Solutions” is an attempt to fight crime with a multitude of resources and a mix of “residents, government and charities.” In addition, youth involvement is a key part of community revitalization and a primary motivation for such efforts. The success rate of the project is debatable from community to community.

Photo: 8/10/93 - Article: 8/15/93 (Gary O’Brien)

Regal Heights residents Angela and Eugene Perkins are struggling to protect themselves and their neighbors from the negative influence of criminals and drug dealers. “We intend to be an example for other communities because we intend for this to work,” said Eugene Perkins.

Photo: 5/24/86 - Article: 5/25/86 (Wes Bobbitt)

Renewing neighborhoods is not a new issue. Beginning in 1980, the Cherry community southeast of downtown organized the Cherry Reunion. Cherry is an historic black community that survived the bulldozers of urban renewal.

Photo: 8/7/93 - Article: 8/8/93 (Gary O’Brien)

Another target of urban renewal, the Greenville neighborhood has worked to survive. Its history and future were celebrated in the 2nd annual Greenville Festival.

Photo: 12/2/95 - Article: 12/3/95

Volunteers rallied to support a worthy project. It remains to be seen if their work will continue or be undone.