• Timothy Lewis

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Updated: Oct 27

It's been a rule of thumb for the past 40 years that residents ought not spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing. If they must spend more, they will have a hard time making ends meet.

We have also known for at least 40 years that we have a crisis in the availability of affordable housing in the United States, and Dorchester County, sadly, is no exception.

Recent data show that nearly 30 percent of Dorchester County homeowners are paying more than 30 percent of their income to service a monthly mortgage. For renters the problem is even worse. Nearly 50 percent of them are paying more than 30 percent of their income for rent.

If Dorchester County wants to be a community in which people of all income levels can live and work, it must address this crisis in affordable housing. One of my most important challenges as your representative on the County Council will be to address this crisis....and I have solutions.

When I lived in Charlotte, I led a faith-based community development project that successfully built 112 affordable housing units. Here is how we did it:

  • The church provided a four-block property worth $2 million to kickstart this $14 million project.

  • We leveraged that $2 million to raise the rest of what we needed from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the Charlotte Housing Authority, and the Bank of America. The BoA provided funding at a low rate of interest as part of its community reinvestment program.

  • From the start of the project, we, along with the developer, organized town halls to gather ideas, to help with design, and to address community concerns. I found a developer with a commitment to affordable housing.

I am convinced we can do this in Dorchester County. I am experienced in making such public-private partnerships work.

Dorchester County's own most recent "needs assessment" provides a variety of other solutions to the affordable housing crisis, if we have the will to pursue them. These include:

  • Creating incentives for developers to include affordable housing in their projects.

  • Taking advantage of existing housing subsidy programs.

  • Providing flexibility in zoning for affordable housing.

  • Working with Habitat for Humanity and the South Carolina Regional Housing Authority to identify existing programs that support affordable housing; and

  • Encouraging developers to provide diversity in housing options, such as townhouses, condos, duplexes, triplexes, attached homes, and the like.

To help the more rural parts of Dorchester County, we must bring water and sewer services to all areas. Without such basic services there can be no livable--let alone affordable--housing. Far too many of our rural residents still lack these services.

As your representative I can also bring perspectives from Charleston County. I am an active member of the Mayor's Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing.

I will also push hard to create affordable independent living communities for seniors in Dorchester, particularly in its rural areas, where we have none.

There is much work ahead to solve the affordable housing challenge. I have the experience and the determination to do it.

21 views0 comments