SC bill could fund next steps for affordable housing in Charleston County
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Continuing efforts to push for affordable housing in the Lowcountry may get a boost from a bill the state’s General Assembly passed last week.
The bill, which passed last week at the State House, will allow local governments to use tourism-related tax dollars for affordable housing projects. That could provide funding for a large Charleston County affordable housing plan.
Finalized back in March, the Housing Our Future project includes dozens of goals and recommended strategies to tackle affordable housing in Charleston County.
The first two priorities are to find funding for the housing trust fund and the potential strategy of land banking.
“We’ve gone through a lot of processes to identify the need; we hired a consultant, we got a plan,” Charleston County Councilwoman, Jenny Costa Honeycutt, says. “We have an excellent strategic plan that we have now adopted, and the most important part of the entire plan is that we have a recurring funding source.”
A two-percent hospitality and accommodations tax already applies when visitors pay their bills at restaurants, bars and hotels. But that money can now be used for a variety of needs in the area.
Charleston County will need an estimated 29,000 to 36,000 new units of housing over the coming decade, according to the Housing Our Future Project.
Honeycutt says the bill is another potential source of revenue for the county, but they are still waiting for guidance from the state on how exactly the funding will be used.
“We are waiting on some guidance from the Department of Revenue on how those funds can be utilized, and we’re also looking at other sources,” she adds. “The real goal is to make sure that we aren’t losing the attainable housing that exists while also looking for an opportunity to create that affordable housing.”
The Housing Our Future Project plans also state the market is simply not producing enough affordable housing for the number of people continuing to move to Charleston.
“Over the last six years, it’s really is getting to a point where folks that live in Charleston aren’t able to find the workforce, employees they need to do the jobs, that folks just can’t afford to live here and do so,” Honeycutt says. “It is critically important that we have that diverse economy that supports everyone and allows folks to live work and play in the same area.
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