By Barney Blakeney
As affordable housing opportunities become scarcer in the greater Charleston metropolitan region, we asked City of Charleston officials what the county’s largest municipality is doing to insure families and individuals at varying income levels have the opportunity to live within its borders.
Racial diversity, especially in communities like the peninsula and Daniel Island leaves much to be desired. The lack of racial diversity in such communities reflects a lack of economic diversity as well. But Charleston officials say efforts are being made to counteract the effects of gentrification over the past 40 years.
Since 1976 the city’s Housing and Community Development programs have completed 9,948 units. That includes 3,808 rehabilitated, 932 homeownership units, 2,209 rental developments, 2,525 units via Charleston Housing Authority and 474 College of Charleston student housing units. Over the next three-five years the city proposes to develop 4,754 units that include 225 rental and homeowner rehabilitation units, 1,734 Homeownership units, 96 units via City of Charleston Housing Authority, 94 Rental Homes (w/ City Investment), 538 Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects and 2,067 Mixed Use Workforce Housing units for a total of 4,754 units.
Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie said, “Some things are happening, but they’re happening slowly.” He noted the city, through developers, will create 60 units of affordable senior citizen housing at Concord Park, the site of the former Ansonborough Homes. Through partnerships with P.A.S.T.O.R.S., the Humanities Foundation and others, additional affordable housing units will be developed, he said.
Geona Johnson, the city’s Director of Housing & Community Development, said 42 units, The Oaks at DuPont, are planned West Ashley and currently are in the design stage. The senior citizens residences will be available to those earning 60 percent of the median income or about $28,000 annually. Seven-nine single family detached homes are being planned for the Maryville community where the city already has purchased three lots, she said. The homes will be available to families of four earning 80 percent of the median income or about $53,000 annually.
Charleston officials are doing some things to make low income affordable housing available to citizens who want to live in the city, Gregorie said. The problem is, with the need being so great, it’s just not enough.