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Columbia continues to address affordable housing issues

The city has made recommendations for affordable housing in the past, but the newest task force hopes to do more.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The goal of the city's new Affordable Housing Task Force, led by council woman Tameika Isaac Devine, is ti unite outside organizations to address affordable housing issues in Columbia. 

The group met for the second time on Tuesday and council woman Devine established their goal.

“This committee shall gather and address issues surrounding the need for more quality, affordable housing in the Midlands area with the primary focus of finding solutions to impediments to providing more affordable housing options in Columbia and the surrounding areas.”

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Devine said this task force is different from previous efforts because it is compromised of outside groups. 

“The previous affordable housing task force, those recommendations were more internal. They were for city staff and for the city to implement. The difference here is that this task force is all about building partnerships and not relying solely on what the city can handle ourselves, but how do we work with other partners - private developers, community-based organizations, other government entities – in order to really address the problem," Devine said. 

Other development projects that already exist like Columbia Housing Development and TN Development Corporation focus solely on what the city can do to improve affordable housing. 

“We’ve got Homeless No More, we’ve got Habitat for Humanity, we’ve got Midlands Housing Trust Fund.”

They, along with others, will share resources and information to come up with ways to address the lack of affordable housing in Columbia.

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In her presentation during the meeting, Leigh DeForth with the Columbia Compass, states,

“We’ve seen about a 38% increase in median income from 1999 to 2016 but unfortunately, we’ve seen a 59% increase in median rent and a 67% increase in median home value. These values and these rents are rising a lot faster than our median income levels are.”

The group will meet every month to work on detailed recommendations for expanding affordable housing and preserving what’s already in the city.