Charleston Co. sets aside funds for affordable housing, emergency repairs

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 7:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2022 at 11:53 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County has dedicated tens of millions of dollars in an effort to increase housing availability and to keep seniors living in their homes.

Council has put in place a $3 million emergency home repair program and have set aside $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for affordable housing efforts.

Some of the repairs eligible for the emergency repair program include roofs, windows and floors as well as sustainability and weathering.

County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said the county will be going into the community to see who needs these emergency repairs first, and soon after, there will be an online application for people to apply for help.

“To keep housing affordable, you keep people in them,” Pryor said. “If people can’t afford to stay in because of their floors, their roofs, their windows, then the house is boarded up. They move out, and the house is no longer affordable.”

Those who are eligible for the program will then get a call from the county to get the repair process underway.

“We set a criteria of 62 and above targeting the seniors, you know, but we can go back and revisit that,” Pryor said. “Those are the most vulnerable people. They can’t do it on a fixed income, so we want to make sure they’ll be able to stay in their house and won’t be boarded up.”

“County council as a whole is concerned about the least of these, and these are the folk that we’re trying to help,” Charleston County Councilmember Henry Darby said. “That they would be able to stay in their homes and to maintain a lifestyle that’s enduring.”

As for the affordable housing program, Pryor said county staff is working on a plan to spend the $20 million. That plan is scheduled to come back before council next month.

Charleston County Councilmember Robert Wehrman said he has high hopes for what may come out of that plan.

“A tool that efficiently manages these funds and gets them to be it developers, be it non-profits, be it housing authorities, whomever can create and preserve more units in an efficient way,” Wehrman said.

Pryor meanwhile, hopes the $20 million that was set aside could turn into a regional effort.

“Let’s just say, for instance, North Charleston, we have land, we got money,” he said. “Dorchester County may have land. We have funding. That way it’s this collaborative effort and gets us where we need to be versus going out to buy land and do it on our own.”

The chairman said there will be a second phase of the emergency home repair program in the future, but added that the county is focused on helping as many people as possible for now.

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