‘Who is it affordable for?’ Some county leaders talk policy improvements, after Woven vote
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The Greenville County Council adopted the first affordable housing policy almost a year ago. The goal is to incentivize developers to offer affordable units in exchange for a tax break. This week, council approved a tax break on a controversial development in West Greenville. But the vote wasn’t unanimous and some leaders are questioning how effective the new policy will be.
7 to 5, is how county leaders split over a tax break for Woven. The 214-unit project was scrutinized by neighbors for months before the city council narrowly approved it in January. Using the county’s affordable housing policy, 44 units will be priced based on income.
“But even with the affordable housing component the rent is still around $1,200 and there’s a lot of people in that community that say they can’t even come close to affording that, so who is it affordable for?” said Benton Blount, Greenville County Councilman for District 19.
Blount voted no, following councilman Alan Mitchell’s lead, who felt the developer could have done more.
“If he really wanted to do something for affordable housing in my mind, he should have come with a package that says ok this part meets your policy requirement but I’m going above and beyond,” said Mitchell.
Developers can choose different levels of affordability guided by the area median income. Mitchell says Woven meets the basic affordability requirements to receive the tax break.
“You don’t work towards the C just so you can pass the course you work towards that A or B,” said Mitchell.
While most leaders seemed to agree the policy is a step in the right direction. The question now--is there a way to make it better?
“It’s not going to solve the affordable housing problem, but I don’t like to use ‘guarantee’ but I’m confident it will help, and it will not hurt,” said Councilman Chris Harrison during Tuesday’s meeting.
Councilman Harrison and Ennis Fant lead the policy. Both say they’re open to see it improved. Mitchell suggests encouraging deeper affordability, and Blount would like to see homeownership included.
“I think that they’re trying to do the best they can with what they have,” said Blount. “Affordable housing in itself isn’t affordable so it’s really not doing a service to the people that need it the most.”
Woven’s deal has 44 total affordable units. Approximately 20% at 80 AMI (8 units), 60% at 60 AMI (26 units), 20% at 40 AMI (9 units).
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