Charleston Co. presents updated affordable housing plan

The project includes different goals and recommended strategies to tackle affordable housing in Charleston County.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 10:35 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2023 at 11:17 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County’s Special Housing Committee presented an update the “Housing Our Future” project after plans were finalized back in March.

The project includes different goals and recommended strategies to tackle affordable housing in Charleston County.

Thursday’s presentation included updates to the proposed plans including the following projects:

  • Critical home repair – keeping senior citizens in their homes
  • Charleston homes – improving the quality of affordable homes
  • GAP financing/infill – creating affordable houses
  • Housing trust fund
  • Well, septic tank and connections program – providing clean water and safe sanitary waste disposal
  • Land bank model – acquire, hold, manage and sometimes redevelop properties to meet goals, like affordable housing
  • Accommodations tax for workforce housing – providing livable housing

The critical home repair project already has 72% of the $3 million committed and has received over 1,100 applications.

Over the last year, the project has repaired 121 homes and is in the process of completing 37 more.

“This has never happened before, and I’m so grateful that Charleston County Council has taken the lead in this,” Charleston County Planning and Public Works Committee Member, Henry E Darby, says.

Accommodations tax for workforce housing means that the council could use $4.15 million of local tax for affordable housing in the county.

Following the brief presentation, members of multiple county committees asked questions surrounding the updates.

“How are we moving this [Housing our Future project] around the county? Are we taking it to other parts of the county?” Charleston County Planning and Public Works Committee Chair, Brantley Moody, asked.

“I’m kind of thinking, how these things fit together and did not realize that the findings you need to make for the housing study might only apply to the state,” Charleston County Planning and Public Works Committee Member, Robert L Wehrman, says. “I think it’s good news because that’s a sort of a piece of red tape that I was a little worried was going to hang us up for a while.”

Members of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry attended the meeting, with Claudette Hart and Betty Niermann, saying they are proud of the work presented Thursday night, but it was a high-level presentation with very little detail.

“There are still some things that are not complete, or we don’t understand,” Hart says, “And there are some things that need to be worked on.”

“The devils in the details, and this is such a crisis in our community, we need to know those details,” Niermann says.

At the next Charleston County Special Housing Committee in September, the committee will present proposed actions for the “Housing Our Future” project.

“I sure hope there is more detail on what they’re bringing to them, or what are they voting on,” Niermann says. “Not only does council need to know the detail, but the community needs to know the detail.”