High prices aren’t what they appear in new affordable housing project

VIDEO: High prices aren’t what they appear in new affordable housing project

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Housing Authority of the City of Charleston is preparing to open its latest venture in addressing the demand for affordable housing.

Pre-leasing for Grace Homes off Meeting Street began on Oct. 1, but some people looking at the units may have sticker shock.

A single bedroom apartment is listed at $1,164 a month. In addition to rent, tenants must make more than $14,400 a year but no more than $28,300. The two- and three-bedroom units have similar requirements.

  • 2 – 4 person (2 Bedrooms): Minimum annual income: $22,140, Maximum salary: $36,450, Rent: $1,327
  • 3 – 6 persons (3 Bedroom): Minimum annual income: $28,880, Maximum salary: $43,750, Rent: $1,698-$1,798

However, that is just half the story. The two buildings contain 62 apartments, 35 of which (and all of the single bedroom units) are subsidized by the United State Department of Housing and Urban Development through Section 8.

“That is for very low-income people,” City of Charleston Housing Authority President and CEO Donald Cameron said. “They pay a portion of the rent and the federal government pays the difference.”

Under that subsidized rent, he says tenants pay 30 percent of their income. The other 27 units are classified as workforce housing.

“That is for young couples that are starting out in life – husband and wife who are both working,” Cameron said. “We have cut the rent down so it is below average market for this area.”

The term “affordable housing” is somewhat subjective to everyday people, especially in the heart of Charleston.

“When I hear affordable housing, I’d say like anything under $2,000 a month for an apartment that comes with amenities is reasonable,” college student Payton Pew said.

Pew’s friend Nathan Dewney agrees.

“Anything that has the major amenities - wifi, tv, cable, stuff like that – under $2,000. I’d say that’s a pretty good estimate,” Dewney said.

The two buildings of Grace Homes is technically located at 110 and 114 Cooper Street. It is a property that has taken more than a decade to develop.

“Overall, this is a $20 million development. The city invested $2.3 million and it still has a big, big mortgage. . . so we have to pay back that debt,” Cameron said.

In addition to the subsidized rent, Cameron boasts the location of the new apartments. It is near a school, park and downtown – something Pew and Dewney agree is incredibly valuable.

“Location is super important. Especially going to school down here, there’s not a lot of parking so most people want to live downtown,” Pew said.

Click here to apply for pre-leasing.

Cameron says there are thousands of applicants trying to pre-lease, highlighting the greater need for affordable housing.

“This is exciting. This took five year to get to where we are today,” Cameron said. “It’s a drop in the bucket to the overall need. The housing authority has nearly 2,000 families on our waitlist at this moment, so the demand is great.”

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