Charleston City Council votes on workforce housing

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council approved an ordinance to increase the amount of workforce housing developers will have to have in their complexes.

Workforce housing is affordable housing for those with lower incomes.

The goal of the proposed changes is to try to get more affordable housing available throughout the city, something the people of Charleston could certainly benefit from.

Ask almost anyone in Charleston about the city's rent prices and they'll tell you they're way too high.

But tonight, the City of Charleston voted on an issue to help fix that.

"The city will receive information regarding our mixed use workforce housing ordinance," said Geona Shaw-Johnson with the Department of Housing and Community Development.

As the ordinance stands now, developers who opt into zoning for workforce housing must allocate 15% of their units to be used as workforce housing. That requirement lasts for 10 years.

To qualify for workforce housing, the combined household income has to be less than or equal to 80% of the area median income.

That's a little over $32,000 for one person, and $55,000 for four people.

"The need for affordable and workforce housing is great and we believe this could help us satisfy that need," said Shaw-Johnson.

Developers will have the option of not using workforce housing units. Instead they pay a fee to the Department of Housing and Community Development.

"The fee enables us to leverage and build housing elsewhere in the City of Charleston," Shaw-Johnson said.

Shaw-Johnson says regardless of how the city voted, the opportunity of more affordable housing in the city shows promise for the future.

"These workforce housing homes, or units as they're often referred, make a difference to our workforce and we absolutely need them in our community," she said.

Geona Shaw-Johnson also said the department got the idea for the plans from successful initiatives in other cities.

Because of that, she's confident about what this will do for the City of Charleston.

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