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Greenville Co. Council votes on fee exemptions to build affordable housing

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – – On Tuesday evening, Greenville County Council will be taking steps to create more affordable housing within the County. Currently, there is around a 9500 affordable housing unit shortage in Greenville County.

Council members told 7News the price point for homes in Greenville County is $200,000 or above. However, for people making between $30,000 and $50,000 dollars, that’s too expensive. There’s also a lack of homes available that will fit in a price point appropriate for people who make that income such as nurses, teachers, factory workers, and first responders.

Councilman Ennis Fant proposed a program that will offer builders a 50 percent reduction of Building, Land Disturbance, Encroachment, Zoning, Subdivision and Floodplain permitting fees on eligible projects. Fant says eligible housing will be defined as single-family residential homes or townhomes sold as owner-occupied and shall not exceed a price tag of $160,000.

Council already has two neighborhood locations that will qualify. One off of Antioch Church Road in southern Greenville County located near a Michelin plant, and the other is off of Old Buncombe Road in the Sans Souci neighborhood. That project is also close to public transportation and downtown Greenville.

“This is good stable housing to build a nice neighborhood for people to live in,” Greenville County Councilman Lynn Ballard, who also sits on the Affordable Housing Committee, said.

The neighborhoods will be around 150 homes combined.

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“The builder came to us and said if [we] can get the zoning changed, I can build affordable housing there,” Ballard said.

Council changed the zoning. The exemption fees will help keep the building cost down, so the homes can be sold at a lower price. County council members also say the County won’t lose that much money by offering these fee exemptions.

Buyers will be required to spend 10 years in the home, and if they sell their home, it must go to another buyer and not renter.

“The total impact to the county is small, but the impact on the developer building these houses is going to be significant,” Ballard said.

It will also be important for the future homeowners.

“There are so many who are being forced out of the Greenville Community because they simply cannot afford to live here,” Jalen Elrod, a community organizer said.

Elrod says he’s happy Council is taking a step but says it’s just the beginning in addressing the problem.

“I’m not going to be one of those people who pat our leaders on the back for doing the right thing,” Elrod said. “It’s what they should be doing…Hopefully, they realize the moral gravity of this and why it’s so important for them to take action.”

On Tuesday, Council was also presented with the findings of the Affordable Housing Study which was conducted over the past year. Council will vote on adopting the study in July.

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