Affordable Housing: What it is, what it is not, and where Greenville stands


Affordable housing. A hot-button topic in Greenville which feels to be growing faster than that of a silicon valley tech start-up. This is part one of a series in which we uncover the deeper details of affordable housing and the affects a growing city has on it. To start, it’s probably best to talk about what affordable housing is NOT: stabilizing rent and home prices so that they are affordable to all citizens

What is it then? “Rental or owner occupied housing that does not cost the resident more than 30% of their gross or monthly income.” This is according to an affordable housing study completed by Alexandria, Va.-based urban planning & neighborhood development consulting firm CZB LLC, who partnered with the city of Greenville.

GVL market snapshot*: These numbers help define “affordability” based on the definition above.
Median household income: $43,147
Median monthly rent: $739
Median value of (owner-occupied) homes: $205,000
Number of households considered to be “cost burdened” at median rent: 8,500 (32.5% of all households)
*In the City of Greenville (not county)

Four major findings:
1. Near-downtown neighborhoods are gentrifying.

  1. There’s a shortage of affordable housing units (rentable for no more than $500 per month). More than 2,500 units are needed to meet the demand. 56.6% of all city of Greenville households make less than $50,000 per year (putting them below the needed income to purchase a median value home).
  2. The affordable housing Greenville does have is not well distributed throughout the city. The lowest cost rentals are almost all located in the weakest markets.
  3. Demand for apartments by households earning less than $50,000 far exceeds supply

*According to the same study by CZB LLC

Now that you have the facts, we need your help to shape the rest of this series.

  1. Is this a problem? If so, why is it a problem?
  2. Is gentrification naturally going to happen in a growing city with a downtown landscape that lends itself to higher priced home/rental prices?
  3. What is being done to rectify the shortage?
  4. What other options does Greenville have and are their examples of other cities who have combatted this well?

To help kick off the conversation, we can tell you that:

  • City Council gave final approval to using $2 million of the city’s fund balance (which will be coupled with a potential $1M in philanthropic contributions) to increase the amount of affordable housing within the city.  
  • $1.5M of the money will assist households in upgrading rental units or improving homes they currently own.
  • The other $1.5M will be used to acquire or improve up to 30 acres of vacant parcels for future mixed-income housing.

This is on top of the $81M that The Greenville Housing Authority plans to invest in renovation, new construction, and land acquisition.


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