Historic Ashleyville lot becomes an affordable single-family dwelling

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Monday, the City of Charleston held a ribbon-cutting for a single-family home in Ashleyville to combat the issues of affordable housing and gentrification.

Mayor John Tecklenburg with the City of Charleston said that the need for affordable housing was identified in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. He said that every day—nearly 30 people move to the Charleston area, and prices for land have gone up.  

The hope for the Ashleyville home is that it will provide shelter for a family of four and accessibility for those looking to become homeowners.

While the home on 963 Battery Avenue is in its final stages of negotiations for one family, this is a step towards the need for retention and creation of 16,351 affordable units by the year 2030 identified in the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  

Mayor Tecklenburg said the groundwork for building a neighborhood and keeping up a community, is having single-family homes where families can thrive. 

In coordination with the City, the Charleston Redevelopment Corporation, the Palmetto Community Land Trust, and the Historic Charleston Foundation Mayor Tecklenburg called the approach a “gentrification buster”.  

We need to maintain that inventory and build an inventory of housing that these folks who are just the core of our community can afford to live here.

Mayor John Tecklenburg, City of Charleston 

Diane Hamilton, a Representative of the Ashleyville Neighborhood Association and Secretary for the Palmetto Community Land Trust said in addition to ensuring affordability for the future homeowners, she wanted to ensure that the community understands where the land came from.

Hamilton said the site was owned by what was known as a Mutual Aid Society in the time of Jim Crow. The societies provided for individual families when they had challenges such as illness in the family or death as insurance companies were not common. With no loans from the bank, families would have to be independent.

According to Hamilton, members of the society would pay monthly dues to keep records, and then leadership would come to the family in need during both emotional and economic times of turmoil.

The societies according to Hamilton also allowed their mutual aid building to be utilized for educational purposes as the school up the street on 5th Avenue in Ashley was sometimes overcrowded. She said they would use the building that once sat on the lot of the new single-family home for classes as well as utilize the St. Paul AME church which was once located across the street. Hamilton said it was on the three corners of Battery Avenue and 5th Avenue that was dedicated to education and those in the community still remember.

Leaders say new homes in the Rosemont and King Street areas are next to come.

For more on the Palmetto Community Land Trust, click here.

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