Many advocates for affordable housing in the East Cooper community spoke up during the public comments at February's Town of Mount Pleasant council meeting.
Housing for All−Mount Pleasant, a newly formed nonprofit is working to bring 'attainable housing' to the area. The nonprofit had proposed the town consider a $50,000 funding request toward their efforts.
Housing for All's director of operations Melissa Moore was the first to speak to council last week. She thanked the town for providing seed funds for the nonprofit last year, which helped attain the position she now holds, along with a director of development to spearhead their mission.
Moore said the nonprofit is exactly three months old and she is one month into the job.
"We're already in the early stages of organizing an attainable housing partnership with a developer and a builder that will produce homes at well below market rate. It's completely tied to our attainable housing goals. The details of the partnership and how the program would work are still being developed," Moore said.
Moore expressed that the nonprofit would like to see a project underway in 2020 and they're in conversations with another developer about a potential second housing development project. She said that they have worked on their program since they received their IRS designation in November 2018.
Mount Pleasant resident Pat Sullivan spoke to council about the town's huge need for affordable housing.
"I would really like to see the town proactively involved in making affordable housing available for our citizens," Sullivan said.
Executive director of East Cooper Community Outreach, Stephanie Kelley, stated that they are helping families who experience both generational and situational poverty. She said housing is by far the number one problem and there is no local resource to help neighbors in need.
"I can assure you that the lack of attainable and affordable housing in this community is a deterrent for our working families who are trying to reach a state of financial stability. We have clients who are living in their cars so their children can continue to attend the same schools after a divorce, a death of the primary bread winner or a sudden job loss," Kelley continued.
"We have senior citizens who have lived here all their life who have to choose sometimes between buying food and medicine, because they can barely afford to keep a roof over their head. I am confident this community can do better for all of its residents and I thank you in advance for being a part of a solution to make attainable housing a reality in Mount Pleasant," she added.
Councilman Tom O'Rourke stated that the Finance Committee approved a recommendation for council to consider funding up to a $50,000 matching grant for Housing for All Mount pleasant.
O'Rourke left the funding request in the form of a motion for council to approve and councilwoman G.M. Whitley made a second to the motion.
Mayor Will Haynie explained Housing for All would have to raise the money for it to be matched by the town. Then he turned toward O'Rourke and said, "I take it that the (Finance) Committee also addressed where these funds would come from?"
When O'Rourke did not respond, Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said there were speakers signed up to discuss the item. Between the public comments at the beginning of council and during the Finance Committee report, there was a handful of people that pleaded with council to consider this funding.
Moore addressed council again and asked that they consider giving the $50,000 outright instead of making it a matching grant. She said that it would be difficult for the nonprofit to raise the money, but it's possible with the support they have behind them. She emphasized it's their mission to make Mount Pleasant a better place for people to live, earn and learn.
Council member Kathy Landing said when deciding where this money is going to come from, could this be something the Budget Committee looks at in their meeting next month. She said the request is coming in during the late part of the budget year, so could they look at it in light of the new budget.
The motion to approve the matching grant of $50,000 to Housing for All Mount Pleasant passed unanimously.