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Housing in our region, or more specifically the lack of housing options attainable to many families, has officially reached crisis mode. And while I can certainly fill this issue of The Advocates with stats that show just how bad this crisis is, I’d rather take the time to acknowledge two municipalities who recently took an active role in expanding opportunities for affordable housing.
► City of Charleston
Grace Homes, which broke ground last week, will offer 62 units with 34 units set aside for low-income households. The City of Charleston helped make the project possible by donating publicly-owned land to the Charleston Housing Authority and is also contributing to the project’s drainage system.
► City of North Charleston
An ordinance authorizing the City of North Charleston to donate public land for the construction of affordable housing to The Charity Foundation to be marketed to low/moderate income families just passed first reading this week and is on its way to being approved.
► Why this matters ◄
U.S. Census data shows us that the Charleston region adds roughly 7,500 new households per year based on our growth. Unfortunately, we haven’t permitted 7,500 new housing units of all types any year since 2006. Supply consistently fails to meet demand each year. This is one of the main reasons our housing prices are so high. It’s basic economics.
The Chamber’s 2007 Housing Study outlined several policy recommendations from the Center for Housing Policy that apply to the Lowcountry.
One of the recommendations was to make publicly-owned land available for affordable housing.
By offering publicly-owned land at low or no cost to developers of affordable homes, municipalities can significantly lower the unit cost and help make affordable housing possible. Publicly-owned land also offers a valuable opportunity for local governments to take an active role in shaping their communities.
While there is no silver bullet to solve our housing challenge, we salute Mayor Summey and Mayor Tecklenburg for leading by example and demonstrating their commitment to increasing the supply of affordable homes.