News Release

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Beaufort and Jasper Counties’ Municipalities Establish Regional Housing Trust Fund

$3.4 Million pledged toward initiative start-up

October 11, 2022

Local government municipalities in Beaufort and Jasper counties have created a regional housing consortium to address the need for affordable homes for working families across the Lowcountry and have pledged $3.4 million to kick start the initiative.

Over the last nine months, governing bodies for Beaufort County, Jasper County, Town of Hilton Head Island, Town of Bluffton, City of Beaufort, Town of Port Royal, City of Hardeeville, and Town of Yemassee approved resolutions establishing the Beaufort-Jasper Regional Housing Trust Fund (RHTF). Additionally, Beaufort County Council has selected Community Works, a Community Development Financial Institution based in Greenville, South Carolina, to provide administration and management support for the RHTF, which will be set up as a non-profit entity.

"Providing affordable housing for our workforce is and always will be a regional issue, whether you are working on Hilton Head Island or in communities on the mainland. Our Town has been discussing housing needs for several years now. Being a part of a cooperative effort with other municipalities will help us get closer to solutions for this critical issue," said Mayor John McCann.

"Affordable housing for our workforce is one of Hilton Head Island’s greatest needs right now, and it greatly affects our economy and quality of life throughout the Lowcountry. I look forward to working with other municipalities and pooling our resources to strategically address housing. Together, we can develop attainable solutions that can be replicated across the region," said Hilton Head Island Town Manager Marc Orlando.

A Housing Trust Fund is a fund established to support the production and preservation of affordable housing for our teachers, law enforcement, first responders, cooks, and other service industry jobs. It generally is a public/private partnership that helps to fill gaps in an area's housing supply.

The goals of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund are to:

Overcoming barriers to affordable development, such as financial gaps and land availability, will be a priority of the trust fund. The fund will work with area utility partners to ensure the availability of water and sewer lines and other utilities vital for determining the feasibility of new developments, especially multifamily housing development.

A regional approach to affordable housing will address the needs of each jurisdiction while meeting critical strategic goals for housing location. Funds will finance projects in the region based on whether the affordable housing project seeking financing meets the trust's project criteria.

Municipal leaders across the Lowcountry praised the establishment of the trust fund as a beneficial move for the region:

Beaufort County

"This has been worked on for many years by many people, and it's about time," said Council Member Alice Howard. "I commend the volunteers' efforts to educate the public, educate this council and make our decision to support affordable housing in our community easy."

"Over the past several years, we have been working on establishing regional housing trust fund to address workforce and affordable housing issues," said Eric Greenway, Beaufort County Administer. "Community Works, a non-profit out of Greenville, SC will operate the regional housing trust fund. They have been very successful in managing Greenville County’' program to brining affordable housing to that community."

Jasper County

"There is a disconnect between where the jobs are and where the people needing those jobs can afford to live. The Regional Housing Trust Fund should do nothing less than find suitable developers to construct safe, decent, affordable housing for low-income and essential workers," said Jasper County Chairwoman Barbara B. Clark. "This is a problem all across this country with essential workers like firefighters, cops, teachers, nurses and public works employees not being able to live in the jurisdiction in which they serve."

City of Hardeeville

"The Regional Housing Trust Fund is an historic collaboration of eight governmental jurisdictions in an effort to provide the region with another weapon in the battle for attainable housing. The housing shortage affects our economy, our need for first responders, nurses, teachers, and every area of service," said Mayor Harry Williams of the City of Hardeeville.

"Like our roads, our environment, and our waterways, this need for housing knows no jurisdictional boundary. This Fund is a credit to the eight councils and staff who put the welfare of their residents above partisan politics, and the City of Hardeeville is proud to be a partner with our neighbors in this effort," said Williams, who also chairs the Southern Lowcountry Regional Board (SoLoCo).

City of Beaufort

"This is a big step for us as a region," said Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray. "The lack of affordable housing for our residents and our workforce is something we all face. By committing to the Regional Trust Fund together, we can start to address this crucial issue in a collaborative and meaningful way. I’m proud of the work the City of Beaufort has done on this issue, but excited to work together as a region."

Town of Bluffton

"The regional housing issue affects the quality of life, workforce, and diversity of our communities," Bluffton's Town Manager Stephen Steese said. "The Regional Housing Trust Fund is a solid step forward and it is important our local leaders do what we can, where we are, with what we have to tackle the deficit of affordable housing. This partnership allows all participating local governments to combine our resources to make a greater impact."

Town of Port Royal

"The Town of Port Royal staff and Council are proud to be part of the Housing Trust as we understand how this will benefit the region. This has been in the making for more than a decade, and now we will be able to address the lack of workforce and affordable housing," said Mayor Joe DeVito.

Town of Yemassee

"I commend the work of the SoLoCo committee in recognizing that the affordable housing issue knows no boundary and am looking forward to regional cooperation on affordable housing," said Mayor Colin Moore, Town of Yemassee.

For more information, visit hiltonheadislandsc.gov.

Contact
Carolyn Grant, Communications Director
843-341-4618
CarolynG@hiltonheadislandsc.gov