News2 I-team: Mount Pleasant families seek affordable living

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC — Mount Pleasant is one of the fastest growing cities in America. About 7,000 people lived in the town in 1940. Today, there’s a population of more than 77,000.

The cost of living is also booming.

Angela Walts lives in a two-bedroom apartment in mount pleasant, but she’s leaving soon—It’s too expensive. “i work full time, I make decent money, I should be able to afford a home for me and my son,” said Walts.

“I found myself looking at one bedroom apartments, studio apartments, and even those I can’t afford,” said Watts.

Walts is a single mom who works at a Charleston hair salon.

“I need to stay in this area so that I have help with my son picking him up from school so that I’m able to work,” said Walts.

“I wish I could spend more time with my son,” she adds. “I spend all this time working, and I still can’t provide for him.”

Mount Pleasant mayor Linda Page says she feels Walts’ pain.

“That single mom with two kids needs to have the right to live here just like as much as someone who’s making six figures. It needs to be now. It needs to be sooner than later,” said Page.

Page recently announced a task force to address the lack of affordable housing.

“We have had ordinances and some regulatory control over this in the past, so we actually had an affordable housing bonus density for development, but we took that away because I don’t think it really works,” Page said.

Also, in 2008, Mount Pleasant began a workforce housing exemption grant program where developers could apply to build homes, and then sell or rent them to qualified people, which were usually middle-class, working families.

The recession kept home prices low, and the incentive for developers wasn’t as enticing, so few were of those developments were built.

In 20-10, home prices started soaring again. They were up nearly $100,000 in just five years.

Rental prices also soared.

About a year ago, Mayor Page began talking about growth management. She says the town needs “attainable” housing, or living spaces that attract people of all economic levels.

“We need a mix of housing, so if you’re a renter here you need to have rental options. If you choose to purchase here, you need to have housing options, whether that’s a duplex or a condominium or a townhome,” Page said.

Real estate professional Catherine Parker works with many families and young professionals that want to move to Mount Pleasant. She agrees the town should do more to make affordable housing options available, whether people want to buy or rent.

“It’s more expensive to rent than to buy right now, so in my mind, if it’s apartments, I’m not quite sure it will be more affordable than to purchase,” she said.

Parker says a family of four doesn’t benefit from a one or two-bedroom condo. They need a $200,000 home.

“I think in Mount Pleasant, the lowest price point is the low 3’s,” said Parker.

Walts now has a touch decision to make.

“I either have to find a roommate or move to another city,” said Walts.

“I just hope that all this work that I do, spending so much time at work and sacrificing so much time with my son will pay off,” she said.

Mayor Page says the attainable housing task force will begin meeting with people in the community over the next 6 months.

Then, they will make recommendations to council.

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