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The Department of Housing and Community Development works closely with nonprofit and for-profit developers to assist in their efforts to create affordable housing.
The City assists developers in a number of ways, including, financial assistance, incentive zoning, development opportunities, expedited permitting, and staff support.
Developers are strongly encouraged to review this information available online to understand incentives and the assistance that potentially may be available.
Please contact Geona Shaw Johnson, Director, at 843-724-3768 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Affordable Housing is defined in Section 54-120 of the City of Charleston Code as:
“Single-family, two-family or multi-family dwelling units, used exclusively for residential uses, where occupants have, in the aggregate, household income of less than or equal to one hundred twenty (120) percent of median area income for owner occupied units, or eighty (80) percent of median area income for rental units.”
Median area income is determined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It is important for your project to receive Affordable Housing Designation if you are pursuing an affordable housing development opportunity in the City of Charleston. Developments including at least 50% of build out as affordable will receive preference as it goes through the planning and permitting process.
In order to receive Affordable Housing Designation, please fill out this form to provide basic information about the development.
Following the submittal of the form, staff will review and verify development details. If approved for an Affordable Housing Designation, you will receive notification and a Project ID that you will need to provide to review staff and on review paperwork. This Project ID is important to retain to indicate to reviewers of the project’s Affordable Housing Designation.
Should you have questions regarding Affordable Housing Designation, please contact Florence Peters, Housing Development Officer, at email@example.com.
Affordable/Workforce Housing Account
The City of Charleston is committed to creating affordable housing. To facilitate the creation of affordable housing, an Affordable/Workforce Housing Account was created to acquire land, support development, and provide gap financing to affordable housing developments. Funding is limited and may not be available.
Developers are encouraged to contact the Department of Housing and Community Development as early as possible in the development process to determine funding availability.
The City of Charleston is an entitlement community that receives annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These funds may be used to support the development of affordable housing.
The Department of Housing and Community Development accepts applications for funding on an annual basis. Applications are typically made available each November and are due in January. Please contact Kat Hill, Community Development Coordinator, at 843-724-3767 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Charleston City Council approved an updated Mixed-Use/Workforce Housing ordinance in April 2021. The ordinance allows for unlimited density and requires 20% of the unit buildouts as affordable for a minimum of 30 years.
Developers also have the option to pay a fee in lieu or provide land in lieu (within a two mile radius) to offset the required 20% affordable units.
The updated ordinance provides a tiered, escalating fee structure to encourage developers to include affordable units within their developments and to support inclusive communities. Under the proposal there are four tiers with an escalating fee amount at each tier, ranging from $7.50/GSF to $15/GSF.
Please see the calculator tool to determine potential fees if pursuing the fee-in-lieu alternative. Please contact Matt Ojala, Deputy Director, at email@example.com or 843-724-7351 with any questions.
The Upper Peninsula Zoning District is incentive based offering height and density bonuses in exchange for added community benefits such as workforce housing, public open space, renewable energy, electric vehicle charging stations, transportation improvements, Stormwater management improvements, green infrastructure, and achieving building certification programs for a high performing building.
Please see the link for more information on the Upper Peninsula Zoning District.
Requests for Proposals
The Department of Housing and Community Development periodically releases Requests for Proposals to support the development of affordable housing on City owned land. Qualified development teams are encouraged to respond to proposals and partner with the City to increase the supply of affordable housing in the City of Charleston.
Any current Requests for Proposals are posted on the City of Charleston’s Bidline.
Planning, Preservation & Sustainability
Developments including at least 50% of homes as affordable are eligible for fee waivers from the City of Charleston.
Please see the fee schedule from Planning, Preservation & Sustainability to determine which fees may be eligible for waiver.
Charleston Water System
Qualified applicants may be eligible for reduced impact fees at Charleston Water System. The affordable housing rate waives the $500 engineering services charge included in the water and sewer impact fee structure, allowing a total savings of $1,000 for water and sewer impact fees.
Contact the South Carolina Community Loan Fund for qualification criteria.
Developments that have 50% or more build out as affordable are eligible for expedited permitting. Developments designated as Affordable Housing receive priority through City review processes. Technical Review Committee issued updated guidelines for Affordable Housing developments in May 2021 to prioritize affordable housing developments.
To receive Affordable Housing designation, please contact Florence Peters, Housing Development Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Affordable Housing Concierge
In addition to support from Housing and Community Development staff, developments that are at least 50% affordable are eligible for support through the City’s Affordable Housing Concierge. The Affordable Housing Concierge provides on-call support to assist the developer, answer questions, and help expedite the permitting process.
Please contact Chloe Stuber at email@example.com to learn more.