Affordable Housing Initiative Moves Ahead After Charleston Voters Approve Referendum

Work begins on affordable housing in Charleston after $20M bond referendum passes (WCIV).png

At Top Of The Line Barber Shop on Columbus Street, Zenaida Allen sees and hears the concerns of her clientele.

"I think that would have been a great idea for them pass that referendum," she said while cutting the hair of a cadet from The Citadel.

Her east side location is within walking distance of where city leaders plan to build affordable housing units. She cuts hair for many people struggling to make ends meet.

"The ones who live here for the longest don't have anything that really that's affordable for them to live. You know? And they really don't want to leave Charleston," Allen said.

"It hadn't been the easiest site to deal with. But we believe we got it all figured out," admitted Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

He stands on the site of where more than 300 apartment units will be built along Lee and Nassau Streets. The project moves ahead after voters approved a $20 million bond referendum.

"People can't afford to live close to where they work. And this is a long-term solution to where we need to go," Tecklenburg said.

The mayor explains how the city will join non-profit groups to build the homes. A nearby student housing building under construction at Lee and Meeting Streets will include discounted units for those who qualify.

"There are more tools in the toolbox that the city is now trying to employ in incentivize developers to build affordable housing. It's not just all on the back of government," he said.

Zenaida Allen thinks the project can't arrive soon enough.

"Affordable housing is really what they need down here," she said.

Mayor Tecklenburg says rent will be determined based on a percentage of a tenant's salary. Construction could begin early next year.

Charleston city council will begin reviewing plans for the project at its next meeting.

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