Charleston affordable housing projects ask for extra funds due to increased costs

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 8:30 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Two affordable housing projects say they need more funding from the City of Charleston to fill in financial gaps caused by higher interest rates, supply chain issues and higher construction costs.

Developers for turning the old Archer School off Nassau Street into an affordable housing complex for seniors 55 and up said they need just over $487,000 extra to close on the property and start construction.

“I think it just falls in line with what’s happening nationally in terms of inflation, cost of goods, costs to build, building materials have all gone up,” City Councilmember Jason Sakran said. “A lot of these projects are coming in – not to the fault of the developer – but it’s cost of goods, labor.”

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average median income in Charleston and North Charleston is $57,500 per year for a single person.

The apartments at the Archer School would cater to those making roughly $46,000 or below annually, and their rent cannot exceed more than 30% of their annual income. That means the highest rent could be around $1,300 per month.

The Gateway at Charleston, another planned senior affordable housing community, is asking the city for more than $500,000 dollars in extra funds to fill a funding gap in their project.

Public documents state they plan to charge as low as $191 per month for a 1-bedroom townhome for people making roughly $11,500 per year and around $800 a month for those making roughly $35,000 per year.

The city said they’re not concerned about the extra cost, saying it’s part of doing business.

“We’re in need by 2030 of 16,500 affordable housing units in the City of Charleston,” Sakran said. “Over the next couple of years, we’ve got to accelerate what we’re doing.”

However, several neighbors said some of the rates for affordable housing in Charleston are not that affordable.

“Affordable to me would be something like $600,” Charleston resident Frederick George said. “You know, I’ve seen nice apartments that are less than $1,300, so that doesn’t count as what I think as affordable.”

The city, however, said the affordable housing rates are indeed reasonable.

“Because if anyone compared that rate to what is demanded or asked for in the market, it’s probably double that, easily,” Charleston Director of Housing and Community Development Geona Shaw Johnson said.

The city said they have the largest affordable housing program in the state, and they have over 800 total affordable housing units in the works.

The two extra funding requests will be voted on during Tuesday’s Charleston City Council meeting.

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