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Campaign seeks more affordable housing for Charleston area

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — In an area with high housing costs and relatively low wages, government, nonprofits and business groups are coming together to call for more affordable housing in the Charleston area.

The Post and Courier reports the aim of the effort is to get people talking about the need for affordable housing and then develop public policy to address the issue.

The population of the Charleston area is projected to grow to about 1 million by 2027, requiring about 300,000 new single-family homes. But the cost of housing is rising along with property values.

The median price of a home in the Charleston area is about $225,000, and a third of homeowners and half of renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Thirty percent is the general rule of thumb for what people should spend on housing.

“The goal of the campaign is to build a coalition of individuals from all sectors who care about this issue and can present a collective voice for the need for affordable housing,” said Victoria Baker, communications director for the South Carolina Community Loan Fund.

“The long-term goal of this campaign is public policy but first we need to get people thinking and talking about housing,” added Community Loan Fund CEO Michelle Mapp.

The campaign is a partnership among nine organizations, including One80 Place, which operates a local homeless shelter.

Stacey Denaux, executive director of One80 Place, said Charleston’s booming tourism industry means more job opportunities, especially at hotels and restaurants.

But she said many of those jobs are at or near minimum wage, making it tough for people without resources or transportation to take such jobs.

“Homelessness and hospitality are not a good combination,” she said. “You end up in a Catch-22. People say, ‘Go get a job!’ So I get a job. But now where will I live?”

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