“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”  Amy Poehler

Whether it’s mentoring on real estate issues, providing homeownership programs, or brainstorming on how to solve the affordable housing crisis, West Side Community Land Trust (West Side CLT) and DreamKey Partners have been in the trenches together. Executive Director at West Side Community Land Trust Charis Blackmon is hopeful that “affordable housing can shift from an elusive concept to an attainable reality for families currently struggling to find homes they can afford in Charlotte.”

An organization that has been around for five years, West Side CLT provides homebuyer education and directs affordable housing to those in need – first-time homebuyers with lower incomes. People interested in buying a home who may not be able to afford one without resources can get started with financial education and counseling programs provided by West Side CLT and down payment assistance administered by DreamKey.

How did West Side CLT get its start? It began at the grassroots level, with residents and people living in the community and sharing a desire to create affordable homeownership for those living nearby and in the surrounding area. “It’s important to create and develop trust in communities and that begins by connecting with residents and empowering them to have a say about what happens in their neighborhoods,” said Charis.

Affordable homeownership is a journey – land acquisition and preservation, building and rehabilitation, and homeowners moving into their new homes. The collaborative process between West Side CLT and DreamKey amplifies the number of potential homeowners, changing lives and communities for the better.  West Side CLT Board member and DreamKey Partners Real Estate Development Manager Sammy Jackson is a resident of the West Side neighborhood and joined the Board as a way to give back to the community. “My involvement is both personal and professional,” said Sammy. “I’m honored to use my business knowledge to support such a valuable resource in the community like West Side CLT and at the same time, witness the positive change of my neighborhood.”

Currently, West Side CLT has a number of affordable housing units under development in Enderly Park, West Boulevard Corridor and other areas around Charlotte, promoting generational wealth and mitigating gentrification. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the number of units, it’s about building equitable communities to best serve people in need,” said Charis.