Greenville starts on solutions for Affordable Housing

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GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Greenville county leaders are working on solutions to fix the affordable housing problem in the community.

About 25 city leaders met Wednesday afternoon with a consultant hired by the city to go over results of months of Affordable Housing Committee discussions as well as a survey taken by nearly 1100 people in the community.

“We’re continuously losing the affordable housing that we have, so really preservation as a strategy,” committee members, Deborah McKetty said.

The consultant recommended the creation of a Housing Trust Fund as the best option. It would combine public, private, and non-profit efforts.

The city says the trust fund would be a non-profit organization, separate from the city, that would be created in order to receive the funding from those entities. The money would be used for rental or owner-occupied rehabilitation. The fund would also be able to buy land specifically for affordable housing.

“It will remain affordable forever,” McKetty said.

Unlike other housing trust funds that only last a certain number of years, and then, the land goes back to market value.

There were a few community members who attended the meeting. Mostly from the Nicholtown and West End communities which are the neighborhoods affected most by gentrification. People are being forced to move out of their homes they’ve lived in for decades because the new development is raising property taxes, making it not affordable to live there.

Those community members say the survey that was sent out to the community for about a month wasn’t made available to them, and they didn’t even know it existed. Many of those people also do not have access to computers to have taken the largely online survey.

“I don’t recall that it was made available to my community…We are on their e-mail list for certain committees and stuff like that, but this one somehow didn’t make it to me,” Sylvia Palmer, from the Nicholtown Neighborhood Association said.

The city says they’re working to fix that issue.

“We have heard from some communities that we may need to do some more work and make more paper copies available, so we’re doing that,” Ginny Stroud, the city’s Community Development Administrator, said.

The city has about 2500 more low-income renters than they have low-income units available. It would cost around $160 million to close that gap. Stroud says the gap was created because the city has a growing number of people making less than $20,000 a year.

However, there are also more developers with their eye on Greenville.

“The downward pressure of people at upper income levels trying to lease,” Stroud said.

To fix the gap that situation created, city council has to approve the funds from the budget surplus. Then, they’ll have to put policies in place to implement the recommendations.

The city says they haven’t set a date yet for a meeting where they’ll discuss the budget, but they would need a total of $3 million from the city and non-profits combined to get started on the recommendations.

City leaders say it’s also important to get the County involved in solving the problem.

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