By Theodosia Hoppers
Governor McMaster signed into law a new tax credit, "Workforce and Senior Affordable Housing Act" on May 14, 2020. This law can result in taking a $1M FEDERAL tax credit, for example, and increasing it with another $1M SC State tax credit, if eligible.
This law will almost certainly apply to the low-income housing apartment complex planned for Chestnut and Washington, near the Square.
One aspect of the new law includes a requirement that eligibility for the SC tax credit "must include consideration of evidence of local support for the project."
What does THAT mean?
I've been told that the intent was to ensure the LOCAL COMMUNITY had a voice, and that SC Housing is responsible for making the specific rules to support this requirement.
So far, SC Housing's rulemaking is not encouraging.
First, they've already conducted a kind of informal public comment period - the kind where the "public" was not involved (I am on their mailing list, but I did not receive any notification from SC Housing about a public comment period).
SC Housing posted the results of the informal comment period on their website July 9th.
Public Comment: The term "consideration of local support" is concerning.
SC Housing response: The final policy will need to implement the statutory requirement
to consider local support.
Public Comment: The policy needs a better definition of local support.
SC Housing response: The final version could list more specific requirements for
developers to meet, although staff anticipates a more flexible approach.
You don't have to read between the lines. This is NOT encouraging. "Flexibility for the developer"?
This sounds like a rubber stamp.
SC Housing told me, "The specific process to be used in considering evidence of local support is still being developed," but I don't know if they will allow public comment - trying to find out.
It's one thing to have to live with bad state regulations and an even worse City zoning decision, but quite another to have to pay for them too.
So ask yourselves, "Does this project have LOCAL SUPPORT? In THIS location?"
If you live on Chestnut, Greenville or Washington Streets or have a business in the Square, YOU are the "local" community! Not someone who lives on a cul-de-sac three miles away. Shouldn't YOU have a say about whether your state tax dollars support this huge change in your 'backyard'?
If so, you need to get busy and tell SC Housing what you think "evidence of local support" should be, before they get ready to use their rubber stamp.