Affordable housing remains a challenge in Spartanburg, South Carolina

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Leila Scott is elated to be living in a quality affordable home in her native city of Spartanburg.

Scott, 70, wasn’t looking for anything fancy after she gave up her house a few years ago when she retired. She just wanted some room for her things and her own laundry facilities.

Her new one-bedroom unit in Page Lake Manor off Grand Central Avenue has given her both those things at last.

“I knew they were senior housing, and I just liked them and saw that there was a washer-dryer,” said Scott, who since May 2012 had been living in a low-income senior complex in Greer.

That unit, she said, was smaller, and the complex only had one shared laundry facility. She moved into her new home in October.

For many low- and fixed-income residents in Spartanburg, finding a safe, affordable place to live is a challenge. With demand for such housing continually outstripping supply, city officials and neighborhood groups are looking at ways to provide more living options.

What is affordable housing?

Terril Bates, executive director of the Spartanburg Housing Authority, said often when people use the term “affordable housing” they think it means public housing. But that’s not the case.

“I think there are a lot of questions about identifying what ‘affordable housing’ is in Spartanburg,” she said. “What does affordability mean to the person that just got out of school that’s looking to rent an apartment and the rent is $1,000 a month? So what do we mean when we use that term, ‘affordable housing?’”
There are 18,390 single- and multi-family housing units in the city of Spartanburg, according to the U.S. Census 2010-14 American Community Survey. Of those, 7,782 are owner-occupied and 7,550 are renter-occupied. The remaining 3,058 are vacant.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable housing means an occupant isn’t paying more than 30 percent of his or her income for housing and utilities.

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