‘I didn’t think we were gonna make it:’ High rent costs fuel Upstate housing crisis

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:27 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:38 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - $19 per hour, that’s how much renters need to make in South Carolina to afford a two-bedroom home. This means someone making the minimum wage would need to work 91 hours a week.

These statistics come from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s newest “Out Of Reach” report. The report found the Greenville-Mauldin-Easley area is ranked number 5 for the most expensive places to live in the state. Because it’s so expensive, low-income renters have a much harder time finding an affordable place to stay. It’s a problem local nonprofits are seeing too.

“You almost feel stuck. I mean, there were moments where I didn’t think we were gonna make it” said Natalia Mayley.

In just a few months, Natalia Mayley, and her 5 children will be moving into their new home.

the reality that seemed almost impossible a few years ago. It started when she left a toxic relationship.

“So when I left originally we had nowhere to go. I wasn’t getting any financial assistance. I wasn’t getting any child support. We really had nothing” she said.

Mayley was only making $15 an hour and with 5 young kids to care for, finding a home was more than challenging.

“There always seems to be a roadblock in the road,” said Mayley.

Then she called United Ministries for help.

“For all the participants that we serve, affordable housing is something that we are running into at every turn” said Susan Midgett, the volunteer manager with United Ministries.

The 2022 “Out Of Reach” report shows a low-income worker in the Greenville area would need to make $19 an hour to afford rent for the average 2 bedroom home. The state average minimum wage is $15.

Not only are costs high, but availability is low.

“I think, as our city is changing and growing, and as we end up on more and more top 10 lists, there’s also a subset of our population that has forgotten about those that might be living on fixed income,” said Midgett.

HUD standards say a fair rent price for a two bedroom in the county is $992.Yet, most of the new units popping up in Greenville now, are priced at market-rate, about $1,200 or more for just one bedroom.

“It’s becoming increasingly more difficult,” said Midgett.

United Ministries assists people like Mayley with temporary housing, finding a home, and then keeping it.

“They’ve taught me ways to, to stretch my monies, how to prioritize things better,” said Mayley, she’s a participant in the United Ministries housing program.

The non-profit says the phone just keeps ringing.

“There’s an entire group within our community that is struggling to make ends meet that has never had to contact us before” said Midgett.

If you’re in need of help with rent, utilities or housing you can contact United Ministries weekdays at (864) 232-6463. Also, The United Way of Greenville also has a rent assistance program, you can call their hotline by dialing 211.