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Gary heads efforts for county housing authority

Posted: March 4, 2011 5:11 p.m.
Updated: March 7, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Councilman Bobby Gary says he thinks it’s time Kershaw County establish a housing authority, and he’s urged his colleagues to get it done.

They listened. County council has put into motion the process of developing an authority by passing a resolution in February “declaring the need for the creation of a housing authority.”

“Kershaw County has a great need for affordable housing for lower-income families,” Gary said at council’s most recent meeting. “We have a lot of people here in this county who are either homeless or are barely able to pay their rent. This way we can get them with their own roof over their head.”

According to the resolution, there is a shortage of safe and sanitary dwelling accommodations available for low income.

The next step is for the Kershaw County Legislative Delegation to move the matter forward to the S.C. State Housing Finance and Development Authority, which will establish the need for an authority, similar to a utility provider or hospital. Once that happens, Gary said, council will appoint a board to study the issue and determine recommendations.

No funding from the county has been allocated for a housing authority thus far.

Gary said he likes the model the local Habitat for Humanity has established, but the need is even greater than Habitat can provide.

Habitat does a great job, Gary said, but it doesn’t have the resources to fill all the needs in the county.

Gary said he would like for the housing authority effort to be a coordinated effort between the United Way of Kershaw County and various homebuilder associations.

Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham said he’s excited that the county is now looking to chip in and get the ball rolling on an authority.

“We’ve been giving money each year to the United Way for their housing coordinator,” Graham said, with the city giving approximately $15,000 a year for housing. “It’s extremely important to provide adequate housing, and it’s important that the oversight and control is local. And a housing authority would serve that purpose.”

In January 2009, 35 people in Kershaw County were identified as living “outside, either on the street or in abandoned houses.” And in 2008, 161 students were registered as homeless.


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