Charleston County Kicks Off Affordable Housing Initiatives with $4 Million Tourism Tax

Charleston County is seizing the opportunity presented by a change in state law to allocate over $4 million in tourism taxes towards affordable housing. In addition to the $20 million already invested in housing projects using federal funds, the county aims to establish a housing trust fund, a long-standing point of discussion among housing advocates and county officials.

Previously, state and local hotel taxes could only be utilized for activities related to attracting and accommodating tourists, such as advertising and supporting local venues and events. However, the new legislation permits local governments to allocate up to 15 percent of these taxes for “workforce housing” initiatives. In Charleston County’s case, this translates to $4.15 million based on last year’s taxes.

Importantly, this funding will not be derived from the A-tax revenue that supports venues and events. Instead, it will come from unbudgeted reserve funds. Councilman Kylon Middleton sees this as an opportunity to establish a sustainable affordable housing trust fund within the county’s budget.

However, there is a time limit. State law currently allows the utilization of A-tax funds for housing initiatives only until 2030. To extend this deadline, the legislation’s sponsor, Senator Tom Davis, hopes to demonstrate the program’s success. Cities like Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Greenville have shown support for the law by directing A-tax funds towards existing housing efforts.

Charleston County intends to collaborate with the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, formerly known as the Lowcountry Housing Trust, to establish and oversee the housing trust fund. Additionally, the county plans to employ $2.5 million in federal funds to create a land bank that will facilitate affordable housing development. The specifics of these programs will be defined by the county’s staff and legal team, and the county expects to collaborate with a qualified partner for the initial phase.

By making use of tourism taxes and federal funding, Charleston County aims to make significant strides in addressing its affordable housing needs while simultaneously benefiting from its thriving tourist industry.

FAQ:

1. What is Charleston County allocating tourism taxes towards?
Charleston County is allocating over $4 million in tourism taxes towards affordable housing.

2. How much has already been invested in housing projects using federal funds?
$20 million has already been invested in housing projects using federal funds.

3. What is the county aiming to establish?
The county aims to establish a housing trust fund.

4. What are the previous uses of state and local hotel taxes?
Previously, state and local hotel taxes could only be utilized for activities related to attracting and accommodating tourists.

5. What does the new legislation permit local governments to do?
The new legislation permits local governments to allocate up to 15 percent of these taxes for “workforce housing” initiatives.

6. How much will Charleston County allocate based on last year’s taxes?
Charleston County will allocate $4.15 million based on last year’s taxes.

7. Where will the funding come from?
The funding will come from unbudgeted reserve funds, not the A-tax revenue that supports venues and events.

8. What is the time limit for utilizing A-tax funds for housing initiatives?
State law currently allows the utilization of A-tax funds for housing initiatives only until 2030.

9. What does Senator Tom Davis hope to do to extend the deadline?
Senator Tom Davis hopes to demonstrate the success of the program to extend the deadline.

10. Which cities have shown support for the law by directing A-tax funds towards housing efforts?
Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Greenville have shown support for the law by directing A-tax funds towards housing efforts.

11. Who will Charleston County collaborate with to establish and oversee the housing trust fund?
Charleston County will collaborate with the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (formerly known as the Lowcountry Housing Trust) to establish and oversee the housing trust fund.

12. How much federal funds will the county employ to create a land bank?
The county plans to employ $2.5 million in federal funds to create a land bank.

13. Who will define the specifics of these programs?
The specifics of these programs will be defined by the county’s staff and legal team.

14. What is Charleston County aiming to achieve by using tourism taxes and federal funding?
Charleston County aims to make significant strides in addressing its affordable housing needs while simultaneously benefiting from its thriving tourist industry.

Definitions:

– Affordable housing: Housing that is deemed affordable to low-income individuals or families, usually defined as costing no more than 30% of household income.
– Housing trust fund: A fund established by a government entity or nonprofit organization to finance affordable housing initiatives, typically through the allocation of funds from various sources, such as taxes or contributions.
– A-tax: A type of tax often levied on accommodations, such as hotels, typically used to support local venues and events.

Related links:
Charleston County Treasurer
South Carolina Community Loan Fund