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North Charleston Low Cost Housing Disappearing
9/30/2015 4:56:38 PM

The Ashley Shores Apartments on Azalea Drive which housed low-income residents will soon be redeveloped.
Staff Reports

For the past two decades the City of North Charleston has been one of the most available options for residents seeking low cost housing. Blacks displaced from traditional communities throughout the county found affordable housing in North Charleston. But as the city continues to grow and redevelop, low cost housing rapidly is disappearing.

Upscale housing development is occurring all over the city. And blighted communities where Blacks took refuge after white flight from urban centers are transforming. Undeveloped land and marginally developed properties are being targeted for redevelopment.

The 2014 displacement of tenants at the Ashley Shores Apartments residential complex represented a dilemma many low income residents soon may face. The 160-unit apartment complex on Azalea Drive in North Charleston initially offered quality low cost housing to Charleston-based Navy personnel. The community on the eastern bank of the Ashley River just beyond Cosgrove Avenue in the Jenkins Terrace area is soon to be redeveloped.

The controversy that ensued over the displacement of those and other low income housing residents offered some insight to at least one developer. The new owners of Dor-Towne Apartments on Dorchester Road are offering the residents of the 84-unit complex financial incentives to vacate. The incentives reportedly include $1,500 moving expense money. The complex will be replaced with 480 more expensive apartment units.

One resident of the traditionally Black Liberty Hill community on Montague Avenue said you only have to drive down nearby streets to see the future of gentrification and displacement in North Charleston. In 2013 North Charleston officials started the second phase of development of the Oak Terrace Reserve project constructing 52 new homes and 16 town houses in the former Liberty Homes community on Lackawanna Boulevard.

North Charleston’s population increased some 22 percent between 2000 and 2010 as many low income families found affordable housing in the metro-Charleston area’s community with the most affordable housing. Homes in the Oak Terrace Reserve project cost about $110,000 for town houses and $175,000 for single family homes. Ultimately the project will have some 374 homes and town houses.

But those more affordable housing options won’t last long, said the Liberty Hill resident. $300,000 homes now are being constructed in some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods around the Duck Pond on Spruill Avenue and in newer communities along Dorchester Road.

“The average Joe can’t afford those houses, so people who earn less are being moved farther and farther out,” she said. According to the most recent available information the average income for Blacks in North Charleston is about $22,000 annually compared to the average income of whites which is about $35,000 annually.

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