City of Charleston tackling affordable housing with new goals and a plan
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston is hoping to speed up the process of creating more affordable housing for the community. That comes after Charleston City Council adopted a new policy earlier this year.
As the city continues to grow, the Charleston Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability is looking to address affordable housing issues after a new policy was adopted back in January.
The affordable housing priority status policy was adopted by city council to cut down the times for the review and approval process, and to provide as many incentives and benefits to affordable housing developers as the city can.
On Friday, the department held their first of “many conversations” to share with the community how they are working to address affordable housing, as well as asking for feedback from the public.
“So many people are familiar with the housing crisis that Charleston is experiencing. This is really a global phenomenon, but locally, something unique about Charleston is the desirability of living here that leads to extremely high land values here,” Chloe Stuber, a senior partner with the department, says. “Because of our high standards for design and architecture, that leads to higher costs with the development and design for any housing project.”
By 2030, there would need to be approximately 16,000 affordable units at varying levels of affordability to eliminate affordability gaps, based on the 2019 housing analysis conducted by Community Data Platforms for the Charleston City Plan.
“Just to meet the affordability gaps that we have, and will have with future population projections, we can’t create units fast enough,” Stuber says. “We really just need to be doing everything we possibly can, including cutting down the time it takes to approve a federal Affordable Housing Project, and get it constructed.”
In the last 20 years, an average of 94 units per year were created or preserved, and the affordability restrictions of 148 units expired.
“We are going in the right direction in the efforts to streamline affordable housing. We’re rewriting our zoning code right now,” Stuber adds. “We really need to be tackling it [affordable housing] from as many angles as possible.”
At the end of 2019, there were approximately 5,233 deed-restricted affordable housing units in the city of Charleston, meaning residents must meet income eligibility requirements to purchase or rent.
Stuber also says funding for affordable housing would obviously help, but higher wages would close the affordability gap.
“One of the reasons why we’re in this process to begin with, is that the rent and sale prices have significantly outpaced wage increases locally,” she says. “Then we see racial disparities in that as well; it was impacting the black population much worse than white population, so that’s another side to this too.”
“We could achieve our goal of no one being housing cost burdened by 2030 if there was a better balance between what people are making and earning, versus what people are paying for housing so that would be another direction to the city could encourage,” Stuber says.
The department is planning more meetings to come up with the solutions that they say are really going to work for the city, without sacrificing the high standards for quality.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.