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Columbia Affordable Housing Task Force members share concerns before getting down to planning

The City of Columbia’s Affordable Housing Task Force met today to begin the planning process to develop more affordable units for residents.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Tuesday, the City of Columbia’s Affordable Housing Task Force met to begin the planning process to develop more affordable housing for residents.

Before the committee could get down to planning, members fueled the process with concerns that need to be addressed before a plan is made.

"At some point, as a committee, we need to have some dialogue around the whole tax abatement issue or the incentive," said Reggie Barner, finance committee chair for the task force.

Barner said the city's high property tax is causing challenges for creating affordable homes. Currently, the property tax rate is 6%, the highest in South Carolina. The city’s tax modernization committee is working to cut it down by a third, over 10 years. 

RELATED: Columbia business owners share concerns about city tax rates

Another problem that was addressed in the committee is the need for a for-profit developer in the committee.

Sauls explained developers are needed if Columbia wants more housing units. 

"They do have a voice in this conversation if we want hundreds of housing units," said Lila Anna Sauls, the task force's zoning chair. "We have to have them to build it. It’s a really a partnership."

Sauls said this would bring a different perspective regarding incentives, taxes, and what makes someone invest in this type of development within the city.

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Sauls also said the task force shouldn’t be looking into the city’s zoning ordinances because of how extensive they are. 

"It would be great if we could figure out inclusionary zoning," Sauls said. "Then work to further that agenda, which may be in tandem with finance."

Council Member Tina Herbert said she will create a survey for task force members to complete to help prioritize what needs to be done first. 

The task force will meet again on June 14. Learn more here.

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