CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council met Thursday for a special workshop to address affordable housing in the city.
"When we talk affordability, we're not talking lower income people," Councilman William Dudley Gregorie said. "We're talking all incomes that are paying over thirty percent of their income toward their mortgage or their rent."
The council was briefed by the Dept. of Housing and other city officials on the state of housing in the Charleston area—and the needs for the future.
"We're looking at zoning, We're looking at planning,"Geona Shaw-Johnson, dir. of Dept. of Housing and Community Development, said. Shaw-Johnson said the department is currently looking at how to increase affordable options in the current market. "Do we need an expedited process for affordable housing? Do we need to look at how we use land differently? Are we building what the market is demanding?" Shaw-Johnson said.
According to city data, the median income in Charleston area $66,000 for a family of four. Under the H.U.D. guidelines, an affordable house for this family would be priced under $159,000, or the equivalent of $1,320 or less in rent. Popular real estate website Realtor.com lists the median sales price for a home in Charleston at $250,000.
City leaders said they must break through barriers like limited land availability and a high demand for housing to keep people living near where they work.
"The goals would be to increase our supply of affordable housing," Mayor John Tecklenburg said. "We need to have more partnerships for folks who are willing to make investments in affordable housing."
The mayor said that may include creating more tax credits for developers as incentives. Other proposed solutions include fast-tracking the approval process for affordable housing developments.
The city is already working with developers to integrate more workforce housing, housing options for people who earn too much to qualify for housing subsidies but not enough to afford a home or an apartment. City officials said there are about four developments in the city that currently have workforce housing now but five more are forthcoming.
"The fact that the mayor called this workshop takes us closer to a solution," Councilman Gregorie said. "Finally, I think all of our council members are on the same page that we have a dire need for affordable housing. Not just in Charleston but regionally."
Workforce housing qualification is based on income. To find workforce housing rentals in the area, the Housing Authority said locals need to contact the apartment complexes individually. The following were provided by the Housing Authority:
Asset Management and Consulting Services
2409 Mall Drive
N. Charleston SC
1225 Blakeway Street Unit 20
Daniel Island, SC
Elan midtown apartments
441 Meeting Street
900 King St.
Ashley Oaks Apartments
28 Ashley Hall Plantation
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