Our county’s affordable housing has limited availability: there are only 22% of the subsidized rental housing units needed for low-income renters (SC Housing Needs Assessment 2019); further, 45.4% of Anderson County’s housing stock is considered functionally obsolete and represents a public health risk to all who dwell within them. Overall, 30.6% of households in Anderson County experience an income shortfall every month because of the high cost of shelter (which includes insurance, utilities, and taxes on top of a rent or mortgage payment). While nearly all South Carolinians who want to work can do so, they are losing ground relative to the prices they pay for basic expenses, chief among them housing; today’s median wages are still below those of 2009 (prior to the recession). However, median gross rent has increased 12 percent over the most recent five-year period and has increased in cost every year since 2009.
But what does the rental housing look like that low-income renters end up in? In many cases, it’s housing like Photo 1.
This is a “bungalow-style” mill house. The cost of heating or cooling homes of this quality and age can exceed the monthly rent. All of the houses in this neighborhood are 50 years old or older; most are no younger than 70 years old.
Single-Wide Mobile Homes
Affordable rental housing is also too often single-wide mobile homes that were built before 1976, prior to the imposition of HUD standards (see Photo 2).
The links below lead you to the executive summary, and the detailed methodology as well as the federal surveys and tables that form the basis for the numbers. In August of 2019, the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority released their housing needs assessment for the state, with county-level details following the methodologies of the self-sufficiency standard.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard, developed by the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, and calculated for over 40 states, defines the amount of income necessary to meet basic needs (including taxes) without public subsidies (e.g., public housing, food stamps, Medicaid or child care) and without private/informal assistance (e.g., free babysitting by a relative or friend, food provided by churches or local food banks, or shared housing). The family types for which a Standard is calculated range from one adult with no children, to one adult with one infant, one adult with one preschooler, and so forth, up to three-adult families with six teenagers. The basis for each element of the calculations is laid out in the references (federal as well as industry standards). The links below discuss the standard and its methodology in more detail, as well as the South Carolina version (Anderson County’s table is on the bottom half of page 65). A household is financially stable when its income exceeds the self-sufficiency standard for its household composition. There’s a second document called the Economic Security Pathways for SC on the state site, which explores what is needed for a household to move from at the minimum level of self-sufficiency to financial stability.