Commentary

Great news from Charlotte on guns, housing

There are two important pieces of good news emanating from the Queen City today:

Number One is Mayor Vi Lyles’ announcement, according to the Charlotte Observer that “she plans to seek $50 million in affordable housing bonds in the fall, more than tripling the amount of local money available for low-income housing.” This is from the Observer article:

“The city’s Housing Trust Fund, which largely subsidizes construction of housing for low-income renters by private developers, is funded by $15 million worth of voter-approved bonds every two years. Advocates have called that level inadequate, especially in the face of rapidly rising rents and home prices….

Average rents have jumped 36 percent in Charlotte over the past five years, rising from $842 to $1,142 this year. For-sale housing has seen an almost identical escalation, with the median price rising to $235,000 in March….

Affordable housing advocates have been pushing for the higher Housing Trust Fund level for months, and speakers at Monday’s City Council meeting held signs and talked about their struggles with finding a place they can afford in Charlotte.”

Number Two was an unrelated, but equally encouraging development in the corporate world. Bank of America has announced that it will stop financing the manufacture of military-style weapons for civilian use. This is also an article in USA Today:

Bank of America will stop lending to business clients that manufacture military-style weapons for civilian use, becoming the latest U.S. financial institution to break ties with gunmakers following the mass shooting massacre at a Florida high school.

‘We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings,’ Anne Finucane, vice chairman of the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant, said during a Bloomberg TV interview on Tuesday….

Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest bank by assets, started the process of cutting ties with makers of military-style weapons for average Americans after the Feb. 14 mass shooting in which 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The massacre has renewed nationwide calls for tighter gun control, demands that have been opposed by the National Rifle Association and other organizations citing constitutional protection for the right to bear arms.

Citigroup announced new gun-related restrictions on its business partners in March, requiring them to bar firearm sales to customers under age 21, as well as those who have not passed a background check.

The New York-based bank said it is also barring clients from selling high-capacity ammunition magazines and so-called bump stocks that enable more rapid firing.

Amalgamated Bank announced similar restrictions last week, saying it would not invest any of its own assets “in companies that manufacture or distribute firearms, weaponry or ammunition.” The bank also said it would work with industry peers to seek “responsible practices” from gun manufacturers and distributors.

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