Charleston affordable HousingThe state announced Jan. 5, 2012 that 11 local governments across South Carolina were together awarded $2.2 million in Community Development Block Grants. Berkeley County was the only county in the Lowcountry that was awarded funding; however, it did receive one of the largest grants at $500,000.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development selected the recipients of the grants through a statewide competition. Recipient communities are required to provide at least 10% matching funds. The state also estimates more than 70% of the CDBG funding will assist low-income residents. They say it will help improve quality of life within communities, as well as help create a more competitive environment for creating jobs.

The announcement comes on the heels of a recent article in the New York Times that pointed out the federal government’s decision to reduce CDBG funding. It said this year the government is giving out just $2.9 billion — a billion dollars less than it gave two years ago.

Here in the Lowcountry, the CDBG and HOME programs have made a substantial impact on our community in the form of infrastructure development, the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing, the investment in small business start-ups and the support of nonprofit organizations. All of these matters have contributed to the revitalization of our communities, fostered economic development opportunities and improved the delivery of health and human services. In the city of Charleston, more than $400 million has been leveraged and reinvested in the community over the last 13 years through the allocation of these grants.

The CDBG program is the most versatile federal grant available to local communities. The grant has assisted in the redevelopment of hotels located in the heart of downtown neighborhoods, contributing to employment, entrepreneurial opportunities and community revitalization. The HOME grant has leveraged private-sector financing providing both rental and ownership housing for persons of low and moderate incomes.

In addition, the city of Charleston, city of North Charleston, town of Summerville and Charleston County are all direct recipients of CDBG funds, but they do not have to go through the statewide competitive process.