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Greenville affordable housing strategic plan launched

Staff Report //October 16, 2020//

Greenville affordable housing strategic plan launched

Staff Report //October 16, 2020//

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The Greenville Housing Fund and Greenville County Redevelopment Authority on Thursday presented to city and county councils a communitywide strategic plan for addressing city and county affordable housing needs.

In Greenville County, roughly 50,000 households pay more than 30% of their income toward housing, according to a news release.

In the fall of 2019, Thomas Miller & Associates began conducting stakeholder interviews, holding workshops and gathering data about the challenges of achieving affordable housing in the area and possible solutions to those problems to be compiled in a strategic plan for the city.

“Since 2018, GHF has supported more than 540 units of affordable and workforce housing through innovative public and private partnerships,” Bryan Brown, CEO of the Greenville Housing Fund, said in the release. “The release of this plan builds on that success and positions our community to address the crisis of housing affordability.”

The study discovered that throughout the county:

  • Most cost-burdened households are headed up by individuals under 35 years old
  • About 20% of those living in low income census tracts do not have access to a vehicle
  • A lack of affordable rental options and increasing prices of homeownership make housing affordability a greater challenge in Greenville County outside the city limits of Greenville
  •  The Greenville market has a shortage of one- and two-bedroom homes needed for young families and the service industry workforce
  • More than 40,000 households across the county earn 80% of the area median income or below

“The need for affordable housing options in our community is an essential part of our growth strategy,” John Castile, executive director of the redevelopment authority, said in the news release. “The worldwide pandemic disproportionally impacts those who earn less than the county’s median household income.  Now more than ever, affordable housing options for our current and future residents must remain a high priority.”

Since 1974, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority has provided thousands of affordable homes, grants and low interest loans to residents, according to the release.

The report also outlined the following objective to address these barriers:

  • Increase the preservation of economical housing prices by acquiring 3,000 units of naturally occurring affordable housing over 10 years
  • Leverage private and public investment in 10,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years
  • Identify potential affordable housing locations that are close to services, employment, education resources and public transit
  • Set-up housing finance tools using local, state and federal tax credits and incentives, land banking, opportunity funds and innovative partnerships
  • Establish a communitywide coalition called the Greenville Affordable Housing Coalition to carry out this strategic plan with the leadership of members from community nonprofits, neighborhoods, local governments and private development.

"With the same spirit of collaboration that has served this community so well, we look forward to expanding our efforts to address Greenville’s affordable housing needs by working with our public and private partners to leverage every possible resource,” Mayor Knox White said in the release. “This serves as an affirmation to the public of our commitment to ensuring the availability of safe, quality affordable housing now and for generations to come.”

The two presenting groups also called for the creation of a working group including both city and county officials to collaborate with the coalition on implementing these strategies.

 “I’m more optimistic than ever about the future of Greenville County,” Butch Kirven, County Council chairman, said in the release. “Ensuring that good quality housing is attainable to more people is vital to a thriving and healthy community for all. We can do that by thoughtfully applying the unique tools and capabilities of both the private and the public sectors.”