Development Code Impact on Affordable Housing


Affordable housing is not only a priority in Greenville, it is one of the city’s top priorities as outlined in GVL2040, the city’s comprehensive plan for the coming decades.

Pie chart showing 30% off all income covering housing costsWhat is Affordable Housing?    

Strictly speaking, affordable housing is housing that doesn’t take up more than a third of your monthly income.  

So, if you’re earning $3,000 a month ($36,000/year), that’s no more than $1,000/month. 

Why does affordable housing matter in Greenville?  Why should it matter to me? 

Affordable housing is not only a priority in Greenville, it is one of the city’s top priorities as outlined in GVL2040, the city’s comprehensive plan for the coming decades. Under GVL2040, the city is spending an entire year rewriting its development code to reflect, among other things, the city’s long-term commitment to affordable housing options. 

Leaders recognize the need for affordable housing options because these days, median income in Greenville is about $60,000 – that’s $5,000/month. Therefore, affordable housing is anything that doesn’t top $1,667/month. Depending on credit scores, down payments and other variables, that’s enough to buy a $250,000 home. 

But here’s the problem: Median housing values are now above $300,000 in the city, meaning median income families are being squeezed out. As a result, many choose to do one of the following: 

  1. Buy a home in the county where housing is less costly. 
  2. Buy a fixer-upper in a less desirable part of town. 
  3. Rent – also a challenge for many families wanting or needing to live in the city. 
  4. Buy or rent something they cannot afford. 

The problem with A and C is usually in geography: families who work in the city but buy/rent in the suburbs are forced to commute and that, of course, leads to traffic congestion. 

 The problem with D is the pressure it puts on family budgets, overall.  

In the end, it comes down to the fact that as housing prices rise, families are forced to either overpay or move further away, putting both pressure on their wallets and overall quality of life.  

Where do housing costs come from? 

Whether single-family or multi-family, duplexes or multiplexes, housing both in Greenville and around the nation comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

Either way, all housing comes with costs that are broken into four categories: land acquisition, construction, financing and management. These factors combine to determine rent and/or mortgage prices. 

In a popular city like Greenville, land is expensive, construction costs can be high and, if the property under development is financed by a bank or other lender, interest rates come into play. The more expensive it is to borrow money on the front end, the more families are going to be asked to pay on the back end. 

Add to that the quality and complexity of the property being built, costs can go even higher.  

What about “missing middle housing?”  

Missing middle housing is multi-unit, higher-density housing – meaning more houses in a smaller space.  The upside is in missing middle housing’s ability to revitalize older suburban areas in a way that spurs retail development and increases mobility for residents without having to resort to mid- and high-rise housing. The increasing use of missing middle housing in many parts of the county is proof positive that moderate density housing at the edges of single family neighborhoods can be a valuable arrow in the affordable housing quiver.