Residents say they can't afford housing in Charleston

North Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) — The Charleston Area Justice Ministry held a meeting Monday night to discuss affordable housing concerns across Charleston County.

The Research Steering Committee said more than 200,000 people living in the Charleston area are unable to find and keep affordable housing.

The working poor is defined as a person who works, but can’t afford a place to live in that city.

It’s become very common throughout the Holy City. Members of the community shared their truths about the places they used to call home.

“What I came back to in 2013, it was unbelievable,” said Vermell Meaters, a North Charleston resident. “Even though I live in the north area, I’m a downtown person.”

High prices drove her away from her old stomping grounds.

“I couldn’t afford the apartments that I was seeking. I drove around, checking on apartments in Charleston where I worked, on James Island where I worked at Harris Teeter and I couldn’t find anything that I could afford,” Meaters added.

Meaters moved away from the Holy City for decades. She spent 40 years in New York.

She worked as a home ownership counselor. Ironically, she can't afford a home herself.

“What’s happening in Charleston, it’s also happening in other places too,” she said.

She moved back south to take care of her aging family members. She said she was forced to live in public housing.

“I was happy at first, but it wasn’t a good place to live, I had a lot of things to deal with like roaches,” Meaters added.

Her story is common.

Claire Curtis, a member of the research steering committee, said the number of people unable to afford housing in Charleston County is growing. “Fifty-seven percent of renters and forty percent of home owners are what are called ‘cost burdened’ in Charleston County.”

That’s 211,000 people spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

“That means every month, you’re having to make decisions about where you’re not going to spend money,” Curtis said.

She said it creates a crisis that effects everyone.

“We’re really all impacted by this, housing impacts issues of transportation, it impacts urban sprawl, it impacts gentrification, it impacts schooling.”

Before the crowd, Vermell Meaters was open and honest as she told her story about the hometown she can no longer afford.

“Affordable decent housing, that’s all we’re asking for.”

At Monday night’s meeting, stakeholders discussed establishing a Regional Housing Trust Fund that would include The City of Charleston, North Charleston, Town of Mount Pleasant and Charleston County to create dedicated sources of funding for affordable housing.

Across the country, there are 780 trust funds that have generated over $1 billion dollars for affordable housing.

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