Changes coming to Greenville aimed at creating more affordable h - FOX Carolina 21

Changes coming to Greenville aimed at creating more affordable housing, tackling homelessness

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Greenville turns focus to affordable housing (FOX Carolina) Greenville turns focus to affordable housing (FOX Carolina)

Greenville's ugly truth - that's how many are describing what's seen as a lack of affordable housing. It’s not a recent issue, but one that's been a focal point for the last few months since the Economy Inn on Augusta Road was condemned.

The community called it a true eye-opener when families with children packed up their belongings, many with no idea what they would do next.

"Numerous homeless families are living in hotels,” said United Ministries Executive Director Tony McDade. “They are one deposit away from having enough money to get a place of their own."

McDade said homelessness comes in many forms. Some couch surf, others live in motels, but the most obvious is those who call the streets home. Still, the Executive Director said they're all facing the same problem.

“Rent costs are increasing and the availability of housing is decreasing and so all of that has turned into what is now probably a 3,000 unit deficit of affordable housing in Greenville," McDade said.

The city said ideas for their strategic plan have been floating around and studies have been taking place for years now. With all eyes on the issue, there's light at the end of the tunnel with a new two million dollar housing fund.

"We have a number of wonderful partners that are helping us to make quality homes,” said Community Development Administrator Ginny Stroud. “We think porches and sidewalks are important so that neighbors can communicate and have a true sense of community.”

You can expect some new homes to pop up soon. Tammie Hoy- Hawkins is the new project manager for the fund and she has similar experience in Charleston. She said she knows first-hand some of the issues Greenville is facing.

"Location is critical in just making sure it's aligned with employment centers, aligned with where jobs are already exist or where we're looking to build economic opportunities as well as lining that up with where Greenlink is going," Hawkins said.

She said she wants to break down barriers. One of her examples was talking to builders about what it takes to create an affordable home.

However, those working directly with the homeless community said the housing fund is designed for those making a certain income and that still leaves a group out which is where the Greenville Homeless Alliance comes in.

"Homeless folk like everyone else deserve a place of their own,” McDade said.

Mcdade was one of many searching for a new hire and Susan McLarty is now Greenville's first Homeless Coordinator and she has a goal in mind.

"Getting a roof over their head and wrapping services around them, that is called permanent supportive housing and that will be a primary thrust of Susan's work and it will get results," McDade said.

McLarty released this statement about her new position:

“My interest in this position grew out significant deficit of homes affordable to our community’s low wage workers that was identified in 2016 when I participated as a member of the City of Greenville’s Affordable Housing Steering Committee. This is both a moral and economic priority for Greenville. New jobs are being created that pay a wage where housing simply doesn’t exist and our current supply is geographically concentrated, and generally speaking not near jobs. Greenville County also ranked #2 in our state for number of people experiencing homelessness in 2017. Focusing efforts here requires collective action from multiple stakeholders. I believe Greenville is uniquely positioned to tackle these long term challenges. When we create this new value we are ensuring our community’s economic vitality continues.”

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