CommunityWorks and Beaufort County Commission Eight Municipality Governments to Address Affordable Housing Through Regional Housing Trust Fund

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Thursday, December 15, 2022 10:58 AM

CommunityWorks in partnership with Beaufort and Jasper County and municipality governments have created a regional housing trust fund (RHTF) in response to the need for affordable homes throughout the Lowcountry. Over $3.4 million was pledged to start the initiative, with a slated launch date in January 2023.

The vision of the RHTF is to create new units or rehabilitate existing units for households at or below 100 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) with a particular focus on households at 60 percent AMI. Governing bodies for Beaufort County, Jasper County, the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Town of Bluffton, the City of Beaufort, the Town of Port Royal, the City of Hardeeville, and the Town of Yemassee joined to approve resolutions establishing the RHTF.

Beaufort County Council selected CommunityWorks, a South Carolina statewide Community Development Financial Institution to administer and manage the trust fund, which will be a nonprofit entity. 

CommunityWorks launched the Greenville Housing Fund (GHF) in partnership with the city and the county, which became a separate entity in 2018 as a response to a community-wide report highlighting Greenville’s lack of affordable homes. Since 2017, the GHF has grown its investment from $3M to $13.5M, creating or preserving over 1030 units of affordable housing.

“Though CommunityWorks has launched a housing fund, seeing so many municipalities come together to create more affordable housing is atypical,” said LaTorrie Geer, CEO of CommunityWorks. “It’s exciting to see the Lowcountry’s commitment to a better community for all through their work and planning to create the RHTF.”

CommunityWorks has hired Regional Program Director, Brad Mole, to manage the RHTF from his hometown of Bluffton. Mole will focus on increasing awareness of the fund, leveraging outside funding from banks, corporations, philanthropic institutions, and federal, state, and local governments. He will work in tandem with a newly appointed board to meet the strategic goals of the trust fund. 

The councils of each government entity appointed a qualified representative for the board as follows:

  • Courtney Hampson, Town of Bluffton, Chief Executive Officer of Bluffton Self Help
  • Dick Stewart, City of Beaufort, Director of Port Royal Sound Foundation and retired wireless company founder
  • Dixie Lanier, Port Royal, real estate and affordable housing professional
  • Matt Davis, the City of Hardeeville, Deputy City Manager of Hardeeville
  • Matthew Garnes, Town of Yemassee, Town Administrator of Yemassee
  • Michelle Gaston, Jasper County, federal financial management experience professional
  • Tony Alfieri, Town of Hilton Head Island, retired banking professional with extensive experience in Low-income housing tax credits
  • Victoria Smalls, Southern Lowcountry Regional Board appointee, Community Development Coordinator for the Town of Bluffton
  • Wendy Zara, Beaufort County, retired banking professional with years of affordable housing advocacy experience

“Beaufort County is excited to launch this endeavor for the Lowcountry citizens. The type of housing we’re talking about is workforce, affordable housing, not government-subsidized housing,” said Eric Greenway, Beaufort County Administrator. “What we’re looking at doing is to provide affordable housing options for folks that work in some key areas of our economy that provide services to the citizens so that they can also live in the area where they work.”

To stay up to date on the RHTF visit the CommunityWorks website and sign up for email updates.

CommunityWorks’ mission is to build a brighter future for underserved families and communities through financial education, lending, and investing, with a focus on people and communities of color. Certified by U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CommunityWorks operates a community loan fund that supports community economic development. Since its inception in 2008, CW has generated over $382million in local economic impact, serving 7,352 families through small and micro business loans, business and financial coaching, affordable housing and community loans, and down payment assistance.

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