Addressing Spartanburg County’s Housing Needs
This week’s blog was written by Hannah Jarrett, Director of Financial Stability Strategy, United Way of the Piedmont
United Way of the Piedmont launched the Financial Stability Taskforce in 2016 to reduce the number of households living below self-sufficiency in Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union counties. A core component of this work is increasing quality, affordable housing options, with the goal of decreasing the number of cost-burdened low-income households by 6,000. In the housing field, low-income is defined by <80% Area Median Income ($61,200); cost-burdened refers to spending more than 30% of income on housing costs.
Racial Inequities in Housing
Currently, 41% of low-income households in Spartanburg County are cost-burdened, with homeowners being less likely to be cost-burdened. However, there is a significant racial inequity in home ownership in our community, with whites having much greater ownership rates. In Spartanburg County, 15% of Black and 3% of Latinx households own homes, compared to 80% of white households. Fifty percent of renters in our area (who are more likely to be Black or Latinx) are cost-burdened, leaving very little for other necessities and emergencies.
The Spartanburg Opportunity Housing Collaborative
To address these housing challenges, the Taskforce has convened the Opportunity Housing Collaborative (OHC). The OHC is a partnership of policymakers from the housing sector who work together to implement strategies that will increase opportunities for, knowledge of, and access to quality housing for lower-income households in Spartanburg County.
For the past two years, the OHC has gathered housing data and educated the community about the importance of affordable housing by hosting two housing summits. The OHC is currently developing a housing action plan to identify specific housing strategies to address issues of affordability, accessibility, and equity.
An Action Plan
With a grant awarded by Mary Black Foundation, the Opportunity Housing Collaborative has hired Civitas, LLC to complete a housing action plan for Spartanburg County. The Housing Action Plan will be a comprehensive, action-oriented document that will guide and coordinate various housing partners’ efforts. The plan will outline specific strategies and determine defined roles for implementation. The plan will guide the development of funding, policies, and programs to foster economic growth, ensure sustainable neighborhoods, increase clean and safe affordable housing options, and build equity in the policies, procedures, and actions of all the partners involved.
The action plan process launched in September and will take place over the next 6-9 months. The community will be invited to share feedback on the plan before it is published. The process consists of three phases:
- Initial Status Report – Detailed analysis of the programs offered by housing organizations in Spartanburg County. This report will identify gaps present in housing and housing services.
- Action Plan – Outlines strategies for addressing the gaps. This will include identification of specific roles for each partner organization and funding models, as well as outcome benchmarks moving forward.
- Online Reporting System – Generates accessible dashboard style reports. Civitas will then continue to assist as needed with monthly or quarterly reporting and promotion of the achievements of the OHC.
The Initial Status Report, Housing Action Plan, and online reporting system will make the efforts of the OHC more efficient and effective. Through working with Civitas, the OHC will gain the tools and direction to strategically move forward in addressing Spartanburg County’s urgent and growing housing needs.