South Carolina church to rent affordable homes

GREENVILLE, SC (AP) — Grace Church has purchased a Greenville Technical College dormitory to convert into affordable housing as part of a special program aimed at addressing the local housing crisis.

The church will serve as landlord for the property and the rent will be adjusted according to the families’ income. Rent prices will range from $450 for a single room to $1,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

The goal, according to LeeAnne Cavin, director of care and recovery ministry at Grace Church, is that the average family will pay about $900 for a unit.

“We have a housing crisis,” Cavin said. “Our whole community is really starting to want the collaboration.”

The units are expected to open for rent the first week of June, and the church already has nearly 40 families ready to move in.

The program will accept emergency housing vouchers through the Greenville Housing Authority, but not Section 8 vouchers or additional federal government subsidies that go directly to rent.

To sign a lease in one of the units, families agree to be part of a Grace Church housing program that provides medical coverage, dental care, a matching savings program, mental health support, car maintenance, financial education, cooking classes, self-defense classes, and job and interview preparation.

Residents are expected to stay in the program for two to three years, and Grace specifically seeks to serve people from transitional housing and recovery programs and survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and abuse.

The church will work with other housing organizations to find candidates, Cavin said.

The property is the former Pointe Campus of Greenville Tech Apartments and is located on a public bus route.

Requirements to remain in the program include:

— Payment of rent and charges

– Weekly connection with Grace Church through group programs or tenant choice outreach

— Participation in a weekly service in the church chosen by the tenants

— Drug tests and apartment checks

— Participation in classes or groups such as financial education or cooking.

The apartments will help address a much-needed housing shortage in Greenville.

A 2020 study by the Greenville Housing Fund found that nearly half of renters in Greenville County are cost overburdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing and utilities. If you’re paying more than 30% of your annual income for housing, you’re paying more than you can afford while still maintaining the ability to meet other needs, say experts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development .

Grace Church has 10 locations across the upstate and averaged more than 6,000 attendees each Sunday in 2021.

Cavin said Grace Church is excited to expand its housing ministry and work with local housing organizations to do so.

“We are extremely grateful to be a part of what Greenville is doing,” Cavin said.

Jerry B. Hatch