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TRG Communities Supporting Affordable Housing in Charleston

Homes of Hope, a Greenville based non-profit, is developing two parcels of land on Ashely River Road in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. It is approximately 10-15 minutes from downtown Charleston. A development arm of the City of Charleston is investing funds into the Pierpoint development. The Randolph Group based in Greenville, South Carolina is providing development management for Homes of Hope for the project that will include 75 affordable, two to three-bedroom townhomes. The homes will be significantly discounted. The homes will be modeled after townhomes built at TRG’s other communities including O’Neal Village in Greer, South Carolina. These new homes will sell for $150-200,000.

The structured deal means that the land is under a land lease for 100 years. Qualifying residents buy the property and get a discount. Residents can sell the property but it always has a built-in affordability component that will guarantee perpetual affordability.

The 100-year lease starts over and the property can never be taken out of an affordability component.

The vision and realization of such a development speak to the difficulty in developers trying to support affordable housing. In this case, one property was zoned commercial and the adjacent property zoned multi-family. According to zoning regulations, up to 130 apartments could have been constructed.

TRG President and founder, Jeff Randolph describes the difficulty: “I’m in a meeting with some of the city building officials The building code for the commercial parcel was interpreted to require metal studs rather than traditional wood stud construction, which significantly cuts costs and increases affordability. We initiated a rezoning to downgrade the development to residential so people could afford the housing and to avert the metal studs which would not only add $5,000 in per-unit costs but delay completion by five months.” Randolph continued, “TRG’s history goes back to working on affordable housing and housing as a foundational component of life and living. It’s proven that if you have stable, affordable housing and in a safe location then children and families thrive. Parents don’t have to spend 50-60% of their income on housing which gives them more disposable income to do other things like summer camp for their kids or more extracurricular

It’s good for the overall economy because when a person has a margin in their budget and housing in line with what it should be (35%) they can save and spend money to buy things, but when they are trapped in inadequate housing they can’t do anything. At TRG we believe we can play a role in that part of the housing sector. TRG desires to build quality housing in attractive neighborhoods regardless of price and location. All homeowners
want the same thing regardless of price: safety, recreation, a sense of community and an architectural pleasing residence. When does ugly enter the house discussion?”

Randolph explains, “Every home can be enjoyable, attractive, and valuable regardless of lot size and land. At TRG we are committed to providing affordable housing opportunities to all people in the hopes of increasing quality of life.”

Homes of Hope CEO Dan Olglesby comments on the development: “ThePierpoint development of 75 townhomes on Ashley River Avenue is a prime example of public-private and not-for-profit sectors working together to provide affordable housing. It is a $14M project and the City is adding $1.3M. An arm of the City of Charleston tasked with finding sites to put into a land trust and keep affordable housing in perpetuity approached us about two years ago about the project. The city investment enabled us to buy the costs down to build homes where the end-user pays less for their housing as opposed to the market rate. Homes of Hope agreed and we hired The Randolph Group to provide development management.

In so many areas of South Carolina, we are dealing with gentrification impacting real estate values. Markets like Charleston and Greenville are being overrun by people moving south for various reasons so the demand is high, prices are going up and this is a great opportunity for us to meet those in the workforce who can only afford so much.”

Oglesby notes the progress of the organization, “Homes of Hope has completed 643 completed affordable housing units through rent and ownership. We’ve got 228 houses in the pipeline, so we will be at 871 units when we complete the 75 homes in the Charleston project. Affordable housing is a starting place for us and meets a real need for people, it’s the beginning of our story not the end of it. It starts the process for economic mobility and one day they won’t need subsidized housing and will be able to afford market prices through better jobs, education, and asset growth.”

His organization is trying to break an age-old cycle, “Our main goal at Homes of Hope is generational change. We help people advance and grow so they are no longer tied to the traditional government cycle of subsidized housing over and over. We help people move forward so someone else can come behind them, grow and emerge to pay it forward for the next generation. Our goal is to end the cycle.”

Homes of Hope is about more than affordable housing according to Oglesby, “It is only one prong of our multi-disciplined approach to helping change generational poverty, addiction, and need. Our main focus is in the area of workforce development in Greenville to partner with businesses and educational institutions to help people in recovery gain valuable skills that change the cycle of poverty, abuse, and addiction. There is a place for volume in urban areas in regard to subsidized housing, but our interest is in serving fewer people and being successful by helping them change the narrative by increasing their education, job skills, and assets to break the perpetual cycle of poverty and addiction.”

As a further sign of community partnership, the St. Andrews Fire Department under the direction of Fire Marshal and Captain Kevin A. Berkel was invited by TRG to conduct several valuable training exercises in one of the existing structures before it was demolished as part of the project’s development which is expected to be completed in April of 2022. This development is an example of private-public sector cooperation by exhausting resources to provide housing and first responder training.

TRG Communities creates imaginative places for homeowners to enjoy a wide array of amenities and living spaces. We design communities instead of houses and neighborhoods! Our desire is for the total enjoyment and satisfaction of our residents. Our developments include O’Neal Village in Greer, SC, Foxbank Plantation in Charleston, Carilion in Travelers Rest, Verdmont, Redfearn, and Neely Farm in Simpsonville, SC and the latest development, Pinestone in Travelers Rest, SC.

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