Last spring, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy partnered with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership to host tax relief clinics to ensure homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods can afford to continue living in the communities they helped create and develop as property values and the taxes on them rise.
Whitney and Peggy Lumas applied for relief during one of the clinics. The couple moved to Charlotte in 2013 from New Orleans, where they had spent years trying to put their lives back together in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Living on a fixed Social Security income, the couple fell behind on their property taxes as costs increased. They went to the Mecklenburg County Tax Adjuster’s Office to find out what they needed to do, but found the information they received difficult to understand.
“People tend to throw a lot of information at you and expect you to understand it.” Whitney said. “Here, [at the clinic] you can ask questions. Now I understand more clearly what the benefit is and what we’re getting. Knowing beats guessing. It’s much better this way.”
The couple hopes to be debt free by the end of the year.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy expects to see more need for legal assistance in 2019 with the Mecklenburg County’s property tax revaluation, which is expected to raise property tax rates an average of 40 percent. In addition to community outreach around this issue, the Center plans to host more clinics during this tax season.