The Advocates: Housing Solution

Updates on the Regional Housing Front

Housing attainability continues to be a top priority for us and serving as the Housing Executive Fellow has given me a chance to take an in-depth look at the region’s efforts to tackle this challenge. At a recent Coffee with the President, I shared updates with our Leadership Circle members about my work and engaged in dialogue around the housing crisis.

The discussion revolved a lot around the fact that an estimated 38 people move to our region a day and there simply isn’t enough housing supply to keep up with the increase in residents. The cost of housing is also rising twice as fast as wages, which results in a strain on families having to spend more than 70% of their income on housing. To tackle this problem, governments, private and non-profit sectors will have to collaborate to create policy and development opportunities for the housing options that we need. The Chamber supports policies that increase supply, decrease costs and encourage free market solutions. Where the free market is unable to perform, we support policies that push for unique limited government solutions.

Regional Housing Coalition

The Regional Housing Coalition has begun building the foundations that will shape the structure of this great group of individuals. As a convener, it is important to have as many local governments as possible at the table to discuss the region’s housing crisis. A tremendous amount of thought and planning have gone into creating a coalition that is open to all and that will work for all people. A government meeting will be hosted later this month to gain insight into the work being done on this issue regionally. The first Regional Housing Coalition meeting is slated for late July.

Charleston County Moves to Pass Housing Referendum

If you reside in Charleston County, be on the lookout for another run at passing a housing referendum this November. If you recall, two years ago the county tried to pass an affordable housing fund which failed by a 50.88% to a 49.12% margin.

The proposed two million dollar property tax would cost about $24 yearly for homeowners. The second half of the question asked if voters would allow the county to borrow money upfront and pay it back as the tax was collected. This failed as well – 52% to 48%. As the county works to correct some issues from the last failed referendum, ask yourself would you support a housing referendum to increase funds for more attainable housing?

A Solution to the Housing Crisis

A sustainable way to tackle affordable housing is a Community Land Trust. What is a Community Land Trust? A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a non-profit, community-based corporation, committed to the permanent stewardship of the land and the permanent affordability of housing, and other buildings located upon this land.

Land acquired by a CLT is never resold. It is retained by the CLT and held in a trust for the community. Although a CLT never resells its land, it provides for the exclusive use of its land by leasing out separate parcels to individual homeowners, cooperative housing corporation(s), non-profit developers of rental housing, or other non-profit, governmental or for-profit entities. These ground leases last typically 99 years.

The CLT retains an option to repurchase these buildings should their owners ever choose to sell. The resale price is determined by a formula contained in the ground lease. This formula, which usually uses a resale price lower than the building’s market value, is designed to give the seller a fair return for his/her investment while giving subsequent buyers fair access to a home or commercial space at an affordable price.

Attainable vs. Affordable vs. Workforce Housing

Attainable Housing (What the Chamber Uses): often used in reference to housing that is affordable to all households from homelessness to the affluent.  It is usually used to talk about housing where the housing cost and utilities make up no more than 30% of the gross household income for households earning up to 120% of the City’s median area income.

Affordable Housing (Price-Appropriate Housing): housing for which the occupant(s) is/are paying no more than 30% of his or her income for gross housing costs, including utilities.

Workforce Housing: References housing priced at rates affordable to householders employed in public service – teachers, firefighters, etc. Workforce housing generally refers to occupant(s) making between 80% to 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Craig Logan, Housing Executive Fellow
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Government Relations

An Update on Berkeley County