The dream of homeownership is near the top of the list of 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 helping people take the first step into homeownership. One of those programs is the Charleston SC Homeownership Initiative.

Charleston has a very diverse population. One of the Homeownership Initiative’s key objectives is to bring together many people from a wide range of different economic backgrounds. By doing this, the initiative helps many residents to realize the dream of homeownership. It 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

In December 2000, Charleston’s city placed a new program that would help residents overcome the barriers of purchasing their own homes. 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.

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

> To develop a plan that would be targeted at providing residents that were 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 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, including Elliottborough, Cannonborough, the East Side, the West Side, H, F, and I streets, and the Rosemont Community.

This program works because homes are acquired by the City of Charleston and 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 by the 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. It brings a mix of people together of different economic backgrounds to 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 Charleston residents are receiving and the gap between the highest and the lowest. The incomes for different households vary greatly depending on the household’s size 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, a meager 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 meager 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 program’s target households are earning between 50% and 120% of the area’s 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, several different requirements 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 first-time homebuyers.

> 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 diverse economic backgrounds are allowed to purchase their own homes and enjoy the security and joy that homeownership brings to their lives.

The Charleston SC Homeownership Program’s work 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 purchasing their own homes. Regardless of household income, this program aims to ensure that everyone can buy their own home in Charleston.

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