This Historic Black Church is Building Affordable Housing in Charlotte, North Carolina


April 4, 2024

A local church in Charlotte, North Carolina is answering the prayers of those looking for a place to live in the ever-fluctuating housing market.

According to Black Enterprise, Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker, head pastor of Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church, recently cut the ribbon at Varick On 7th, a brand new apartment complex in Charlotte. The $24 billion project was a six-year-long collaborative effort between the city of Charlotte, the Little Rock Community Development Corporation (which donated the land from the church’s uptown campus), and Laurel Street Residential, a Black-founded real estate developer in Charlotte.

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“We are not building housing fast enough to serve the growth of the city of Charlotte. And so we need opportunities to collaborate,” Dionne Nelson, Laurel Street President and CEO, told WBTV Charlotte.

Like many major cities across the U.S., Charlotte is battling a growing housing crisis as well as  gentrification in neighborhoods that were formerly for the working class and historically Black communities. According the The Charlotte Post, the city is experiencing a shortage of affordable housing units. Laurel Street works specifically with working families and seniors with a range of incomes to develop affordable housing.

The city of Charlotte added land to the church’s lot to build Varick on 7th, named after the first bishop of the Little Rock Zion AME Church. The 105-unit apartment complex features amenities including an on-site gym and state-of-the-art fixtures. The majority of the units will serve as affordable housing for underprivileged families in the area, meaning they won’t spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. The other units will be available at market rates.


“This demonstrates what can happen when people do come together. We don’t have to operate in silos,” Rev. Dr. Walker said. “It is my hope and prayer that this is not the last time this happens. I hope that this will be a model that we’ll duplicate across the country.”

Laurel street is seeking to collaborate with other churches in the area to utilize their land to create more affordable housing for residents in the Queen’s City. Varick on 7th is currently accepting applications with tenants expected to move in as soon as April 15. 

Cover photo: Historic Black Church Is Building Affordable Housing In Charlotte, North Carolina / Photo credit: Little Rock Zion AME/Black Enterprise


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