The impact: Housing affordability in Mount Pleasant

The Children’s Center at Carolina Park was forced to close a few weeks ago. The reason? “Staffing challenges,” said director/owner Chris Marino.

He said he could not find the number of qualified teachers needed to accommodate the requirements of the curriculum and schedule. The reason?

Each teacher could not afford to live in Mount Pleasant. On top of this, they did not have enough money to drive to work.

The Children’s Center at Carolina Park was a valuable resource to parents of young children and has been eliminated due to the lack of affordable housing. Parents were known to register their children even before they were born. The center had been open for 10 years. In Mount Pleasant, increasing costs for housing ownership and rent are well beyond the affordability of many employees such as teachers, firefighters, police officers, young professionals, and seniors. These workers are being priced out of the market.

The 2018 National Low-Income Housing Coalition study reports the hourly wage needed to live in Mount Pleasant is $30 an hour compared to North Charleston’s hourly wage of $17.31.

It is estimated that 70 percent of Mount Pleasant’s workforce reside outside of the town and commute daily from other areas of our metro region. This is one reason the daily commuting traffic is so difficult to manage and road infrastructure is heavily overburdened.

The lack of affordable housing has also impacted the availability of talent for needed skills thus limiting the ability of some business sectors to grow.

The affordable housing crisis is affecting so many aspects of our everyday living. Virtually every business, including doctors and attorneys in Mount Pleasant and even the tri-county area, is feeling the impact.

In 2016 former Mount Pleasant mayor Linda Page began working with Mount Pleasant Town Council to create the Affordable Housing Taskforce of knowledgeable and willing community residents. Their charge has been to develop recommendations for town council to address what has become a growing crisis for the average working family not able to live and raise a family in the community where they work and serve. The Affordable Housing Taskforce concluded its report to town council in early 2018. The need is now being addressed. The town council and current mayor, Will Haynie, voted to form a non-profit organization to address the town’s affordable housing crisis.

Morgan Allison