Dorchester County sees rising need for affordable housing

VIDEO: Dorchester County sees rising need for affordable housing

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A community needs assessment by the Berkeley Dorchester Charleston Council of Governments has identified affordable housing as one of the main concerns for low to moderate income households in Dorchester County.

The assessment plan is a requirement for the SC Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grant Program, which provides grants to eligible local governments for a wide variety of projects.

BDC COG Planning Director Kathryn Basha says the assessment is conducted every year and it identifies projects that would benefit people with low to moderate income.

Dorchester County’s 2021 Community Needs assessment highlights several issues including affordable housing, safe housing, and economic development.

“It’s becoming a lot less affordable for persons who want to move back to their hometowns in the rural areas in Dorchester County to be able to buy a home there,” Basha said. “There is also more pressure for seniors who are wanting to live in rural areas.”

Not only are low-income households affected, but Basha said homes and rental prices are rising to a rate that makes it difficult for anyone to afford it.

The assessment also suggested several implementation strategies that could help fix the problem.

“In the rural areas we see a lot of the different counties have their own Habitat for Humanity groups that will work with that. One of the things we try to look at is whether there are zoning regulations or anything that are leading to higher land cost or higher development cost that make the housing less affordable,” Basha said. “We look at whether or not there are better ways to provide access for persons who meet certain income criteria to get help assistance with housing. A lot of these were in the comprehensive plan for the county as well.”

Dorchester County officials say they have been working on addressing all the needs in the plan.

”Dorchester County is working with the BCD COG, our municipalities, state officials, our Congressional Delegation, and other partners to address the needs identified in the plan,” Dorchester County Administrator Jason Ward said in a statement. “By levering CDBG and EDA grant opportunities Dorchester County Government has upgraded and expanded the St. George Library, opened a Quick Jobs Center for worker training in partnership with Trident Technical College with a computer lab, and installed water tanks in the Shady Grove Community and Ridgeville community. With the installation of new water and sewer infrastructure and fire hydrants in Harleyville and St. George, new job opportunities are being created that are moving these communities forward, while supporting additional housing and community development.”

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