In Charleston, discussions on meaning of 'affordable housing'

Charleston — like most places across the nation — grapples with the issue of providing affordable housing to low-income families.

However, what is unique to South Carolina’s largest city is settling on the exact definition of affordable housing. While the common perception of the term is housing easily attainable by those classified as working class or below, the conservation about affordable housing in the greater Charleston area is centered on the middle class.

According to an April 11 Post and Courier article, there are terms coined by local entities tailored to residents who earn at least $60,000.

One of these terms — “attainable housing” — is used by a nonprofit organization in adjacent Mouth Pleasant for “housing people earning up to 120 percent of the area’s median income can afford.”

Charleston, meanwhile, invented the term “workforce housing” but still leans on the similar definition conceived by its neighbor on the other side of the Cooper River.

The Post and Courier reported that both terms describe “housing for working people with moderate incomes.”

Regarding the difficulty of properly housing families of four earning barely more than $40,000, Charleston experiences the same struggle felt in much of the state and the nation.

“It’s difficult for low-income residents to find housing in any part of the state,” Alisa Mosley, executive director of the Affordable Housing Coalition of South Carolina, told the Palmetto Business Daily. “We have a great need for affordable housing units throughout the whole state.”

Mosley stated that Charleston officials are “trying to be extremely proactive in developing housing options” and the South Carolina Senate is currently considering legislation that would provide state income tax credits to help encourage development of affordable housing.”

Efforts by the Palmetto Business Daily to obtain comment from the South Carolina State Housing Finance & Development Authority were unsuccessful.

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