Greenville City Council plans to tackle affordable housing at meeting Monday

Photo courtesy Greenville Police Department Twitter

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville City Councilmembers are expected to discuss affordable housing at their meeting Monday evening.

Last December, city council voted unanimously to invest $2 million from the city’s surplus General Fund to go towards affordable housing.

Monday evening, council will be voting on a Housing Trust Fund which will be a non-profit used to help housing initiatives in the city. The hope for the fund is to curb the negative effects of gentrification, which is a term used to describe when cities build up blighted neighborhoods, ultimately driving property values up and lower income people out of homes they often have lived in for decades.

“We’ve improved so much, now everybody wants it and wants to be there,” said Greenville City Councilwoman Lillian Brock Flemming.

Brock Flemming says at the meeting Monday council will be talking about how to set up policy guidelines for the Trust Fund.

“The direction it will take, when will it start, how they will proceed, and how we will get members of a board,” Brock Flemming said.

In the recommendations for the Housing Trust Fund, it says the city should put 1.5 percent of its annual revenue towards the fund and be matched by non-city sources.

“We have city land that we have,” Brock Flemming said. “We can partner with non-profit organizations and even private developers to build affordable housing. The fact that they don’t have to buy the land could reduce the cost.”

Affordable housing studies show that in order for a single parent with one child to be able to afford to rent a home in Greenville County costing $729 a month, that person should be making $20.86 an hour. However, many people in the county make around $10 an hour.

“We’re very dependent on low wage jobs, cashiers, construction workers, retailers, people who make a minimum wage or a little bit above minimum wage,” said Jalen Elrod who sits on the city’s Affordable Housing Steering Committee.

Elrod says he would like to see the city focus on those lower income people when having the housing debate.

“Affordability is inextricably tied to median income, and as more affluent people move into a certain neighborhood, that raises the median income, that raises what we deem affordable,” Elrod said.

Brock Flemming says she wants to target people making $15,000 or less and include people living in the certain communities they will be focusing on to be part of the board for the Housing Trust Fund.

“They’re paying more than 50 to 60 percent of their income on housing, and you’re not supposed to pay more than 30 percent, but poor people pay much more than that because they cannot find something that’s in their reach,” Brock Flemming said.

She says this fund is important because it should “Help people who’ve lived here for generations to continue to live in the city of Greenville.”

Council members say the fund should pass but may require some modifications. If council does vote the Housing Trust Fund through, projects could start as early as the spring.