Charleston Housing Authority working to change public housing

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 11:36 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston Housing Authority is working to re-engineer its entire portfolio of public housing within the city of Charleston.

The housing authority plans to renovate or rebuild their existing 1,407 units, while adding 800 to a thousand new affordable mixed-income units.

“All the properties we have, have been here for a long time. Some go back to the later 30′s so they have deferred maintenance, and they have problems that need to be resolved,” CHA President and CEO Donald Cameron said. “Some developments will be preserved and renovated through capital investment and others will be re-positioned. What that means is that circumstances have changed in the environment around it, and it would be better to take the buildings down and re-build them.”

Under the federal Rental Assistance Development Program, the housing authority can work with private investors and use low-income housing tax credits to fund a large portion of the project.

Cameron says they will continue to own the properties.

“The housing authority is not selling any land, so with all these developments we will be part of the ownership agreement moving forward,” Cameron said. “We will have ownership interest with whatever management groups we work with and also we will have right of first refusal.”

Right now, the first project is to preserve the 61-unit Kiawah Homes complex near Wagener Terrace.

The second project is a 12-unit apartment complex on Huger St.

Right now, housing officials are working out an agreement with a developer to replace the existing building with an 85-unit complex. The twelve families who live there will stay and more would join them.

The housing authority will use their relocation coordinator to speak to every family involved as they move from different development projects, to figure out whether the family wants to move, if they want to stay, and if they would like a voucher for a different place.

For the preservation projects, only some families would need to be temporarily displaced as they renovate the buildings, and some may just be moved around units within the property.

This effort could take anywhere from 6 to 8 years, and Cameron says they need community support and patience as they move forward.

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