As push for affordable housing continues, neighborhood leaders are worried low-income families will be left behind

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:58 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - This week the city of Greenville leaders committed to help accelerate the growth of affordable housing. This comes after the Greenville Housing Fund announced a 5-year plan to build more than 1,000 units of housing.

The plan is for the Greenville Housing Fund to use $33 million to create more housing. This will be a debt for the organization which they’ll need to pay back. So the city agreed to help them pay it off by contributing $2.5 million dollars a year. Some residents affected by this the most say that’s good progress, but they’re worried a portion of the population will still be left out.

Each neighborhood surrounding downtown Greenville has its own story. Even though they are different, many of these neighborhoods have struggled with the same challenge.

“We were surviving and struggling at the same time,” said Dorthey Russell about how the Sterling neighborhood has been challenged over the last decade. Russell is the president of the neighborhood association.

While pieces of the past are still there, new development is constantly taking shape.

“We love new, but at the same time, you know, it’s like the Girl Scouts say ‘make new friends and keep the old,’ we want to keep our old,” she said.

A short drive away from Sterling and you’ll be in Southernside. Where Rene Vaughn grew up.

“We didn’t have any money, but it was a great place to grow up,” Vaughn is the Vice President of the Southernside Neighborhood Association.

Both leaders have seen people pushed out and priced out.

“What I have seen is that so many of the neighbors and people that I grew up with, they’re no longer here. They couldn’t afford it when their landlords raise their rents to more than they were earning,” said Vaughn.

A Furman study found in the past 10 years, the number of Black residents in Greenville’s special emphasis neighborhoods like Sterling and Southernside has declined by 53%.

“There has been a decline in low-income homes made available for home ownership or even low-income rental opportunities,” said Vaughn.

Now, promises for more affordable housing sound great, but they ask, great for who? Many projects on the table are aimed for people making 50% or 60% of the area’s median income–around 45,000 a year– which is desperately needed. But those who make less, could continue to struggle.

“Affordable and low income housing are two different words with two different meanings. So my neighbors who are experiencing low income means they’ll end up in a hotel room to survive or on the street due to new development,” said Russell.

The Greenville Housing Fund is working to preserve current housing that accepts vouchers and other assistance. And the city says they’ll use $10 million to create 200 homes across Greenville’s special emphasis neighborhoods.