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Bringing People Together with the Charleston SC Homeownership Program

The dream of homeownership is near the top of the list priorities for many American citizens. With homeownership comes a sense of belonging, security, and a place that you can truly call your own. Across the USA there are many different housing programs that are helping people to take the first step into homeownership. One of those programs is the Charleston SC Homeownership Initiative.

Charleston has a very diverse population, and one of the key objectives of the Homeownership Initiative is that it brings together many people from a wide range of different economic backgrounds. By doing this, the initiative helps many local residents to realize the dream of homeownership and puts them into a position where they can get themselves on the housing ladder for the first time. What is this program exactly, however?

The Charleston SC Homeownership Program

Back in December 2000, the city of Charleston put in place a new program that would help local residents to overcome the barriers of being able to purchase their own home. The new program that was put in place was called the Charleston Homeownership Initiative Redevelopment Plan. Out of this plan came the Homeownership Initiative (HI) program.

One of the key areas that the Homeownership Initiative program aimed to look at was the imbalance within the city between the rising cost of housing in the downtown area of Charleston and the low household incomes that were preventing people from being able to buy a home and that was effectively pricing them out of certain areas of the city.

It was the Mayor of the city that decided that it was time to address this imbalance and took their frustration to the City Council who they challenged to develop a new program to address this issue. As the Mayor set out their aims, there were three main objectives that were laid out that the plan must address which were:

> To develop a plan that would be targeted at proving resident that was on low and moderate incomes with affordable housing

> To address the issues with some of the cities more run-down and deprived neighborhoods by revitalizing these areas

> To help local non-profit organizations to increase their capacity

Program Overview

The types of houses that are available for purchase under the Charleston Homeownership Program are a mixture of brand-new homes and older homes that have been rehabilitated. The program is live across five different neighborhoods in the Charleston area, which include Elliottborough, Cannonborough, the East Side, the West Side and H, F, and I streets and the Rosemont Community.

The way that this program works is that homes are acquired by the City of Charleston and are then transferred to different non-profit house organizations. These charitable organizations then invest in developing properties so that they are fit to be inhabited and resold the local residents who have applied to be part of the program. It allows the homes to be resold for an affordable amount to low- and moderate-income families and bring a mix of people together of different economic backgrounds in these target areas.

Charleston Incomes

To understand why programs like this need to be put in place, it is useful to understand the range of incomes that the residents of Charleston are receiving and the gap between the highest and the lowest. The incomes for different households vary greatly depending on the size of household and which part of the city the household resides in. Some of the figures that came out of the report are:

>For a household of 1, an extremely low income is around $16,350 compared to the upper income in other areas of $81,900.

> Potentially the most surprising and the most significant gap can be found in a household of 4 where the extremely low income is estimated to be at $23,350, the median is measured at around $77,900, and the highest figure is $116,850.

These figures have been used to calculate the different limits for different housing initiatives in the area. The target households for the program are ones that are earning between 50% and 120% of the area median income, which is $77,900 for a household of 4.

Charleston SC Homeownership Program Requirements

To be eligible to apply for inclusion in the Charleston Homeownership Program, there are a number of different requirements that need to be met. These range from background checks to income guidelines. The following criteria are set out by the program as defined by the Charleston City Council.

> None of the applicants may have owned a home previously (or within the past three years). They must be a first-time homebuyer.

> The house that is to be purchased through the program must be the residents’ primary residence and not a second home or a holiday home.

> All applicants for the program must pass a background check.

> It is vital that applicants are in a position to be able to apply for and are eligible to get the required mortgage on the property.

> One of the most important requirements is that the household income must not be above guidelines published by the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development).

Creating a Diverse Community with the Charleston SC Homeownership Program

The Charleston SC Homeownership Program was created to bring people together, and it works hard to achieve this goal. People from a range of diverse economic backgrounds are given the opportunity to be able to purchase their own home and enjoy the security and joy that homeownership brings to their lives.

The work that the Charleston SC Homeownership Program does is vital to ensure that communities are made up of all different types of people and that every area of the city continues to thrive. Rising housing costs that do not reflect the lower rise in income is a critical factor that stops people from being able to purchase their own home. Regardless of household income, this program aims to ensure that everyone, should they want to can buy their own home in Charleston.