How Charleston’s mayor wants to help housing problems

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg is pushing voters to sign-off on an initiative that would provide funding critical for building low-income housing.The city needs new authority to issue $20 million in tax-exempt bonds for affordable housing projects. But voters, heading to the polls on Nov. 7, must first approve the bond referendum before city officials push ahead with any housing-assistance programs.The funds would go toward increasing rental housing and preserving existing neighborhoods, allowing the city to “buy and develop product,” according to the mayor. The city wants to help those paying a large portion of their income towards rent, primarily by getting new construction off the ground. Many workers are being priced out of Charleston as it becomes an increasingly popular place to live, the mayor said in remarks on Thursday outside a new Charleston Housing Authority complex built for low-income seniors downtown. He noted the demand for low-rent apartments is squeezing the supply of housing for people who work here, including teachers, police officers and firefighters.“They now are forced to go way outside the city to find a place affordable to live,” Tecklenburg said. “Affordability for housing in Charleston is a serious issue.”If voters approve the housing funds, part of the money would go toward developing about 800 new rental units. The rental space would get marketed by the city and companies hired to work on various construction projects, making it a combination of nonprofit and for-profit development with the goal of boosting housing stock for a range of incomes.

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