Charleston looks to address lack of low-income housing options

The difficulty that low-income families in other parts of the nation experience in finding affordable housing is also felt in Charleston and many parts of the Palmetto State.

Alisa Mosley, executive director of the Affordable Housing Coalition of South Carolina, told the Palmetto Business Daily that affordable housing is hard to procure from Rock Hill to Hardeeville.

“It’s difficult for low-income residents to find housing in any part of the state,” said Moseley. “We have a great need for affordable housing units throughout the whole state.”

According to a recent study conducted by the Urban Institute, an increasing lack of affordable housing provides limited options for a family of four earning barely more than $40,000.

The study determined that “two parents who both work minimum-wage jobs might wait years to find a safe, affordable place to live with their two kids.” There were only 29 adequate, affordable, and available rental units for every 100 extremely low-income households, it said.

With a population of 140,178 and an emphasis on a service economy sustained by hotels and restaurants, Charleston is home to many low-income earners. Affordable housing in South Carolina’s largest city is scant especially in terms of proximity to place of employment, according to Mosley.

“Transportation plays an issue because people have to go further and further outside of the city to find affordable housing,” she said.

Michael Washburn, president of the Charlotte-based Exit Realty of the Carolinas, told the New York Amsterdam News that expanding public transportation could remedy the problem.

“Modern light rail systems enable residents to have a reliable, economical commute from areas where housing is more affordable to areas where their jobs might be located,” said Washburn.

Mosley said she did not have the data to determine whether low-income residents in Charleston were being pushed out, but noted local officials have a “strong focus” on addressing the scarcity of obtainable housing.

“They’re trying to be extremely proactive in developing housing options in the City of Charleston,” she said.

Mosley added that the South Carolina Senate was currently considering legislation that would provide state income tax credits to help encourage development of affordable housing statewide.

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