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Greenville church to rent out affordable homes

FILE - Grace Church, Greenville, ScC
Wikimedia Commons
FILE - Grace Church, Greenville, ScC

Grace Church has purchased a dormitory building from Greenville Technical College to convert into affordable housing as part of a special program to address the local housing crisis.

The church will serve as the landlord for the property, and rent will be adjusted to fit families' income. Rent prices will range from $450 for a single room to $1,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

The goal, according to Grace Church's care and recovery ministry director LeeAnne Cavin, is that the average family will pay in the $900-range for a unit.

"We do have a crisis of housing," Cavin said. "Our whole community is really starting to desire collaboration."

The units are expected to open for rent the first week of June, and the church already has almost 40 families ready to move in.

The program will accept emergency housing vouchers through the Greenville Housing Authority but not Section 8 vouchers or extra subsidy from the federal government that goes directly toward rent.

To sign a lease in one of the units, families agree to be a part of a Grace Church housing program that offers medical coverage, dental care, a savings matching program, mental-health support, car maintenance, financial education, cooking classes, self-defense classes, and job and interview preparation.

Residents are expected to stay in the program for two to three years, and Grace is specifically looking to serve people coming from transitional housing and recovery programs and survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and abuse.

The church will work with other housing organizations to find applicants, Cavin said.

The property is the former Campus Pointe at Greenville Tech apartments and is located on a public bus line.

Requirements to stay in the program include:

— Rent and utilities payment

— Weekly connection with Grace Church through group or outreach programs of renters' choice

— Attendance at a weekly worship service at renters' church of choice

— Drug tests and apartment checks

— Participation in classes or groups such as financial education or cooking.

The apartment units will work toward filling a much-needed housing shortage in Greenville.

A 2020 study by the Greenville Housing Fund found that almost half of Greenville County renters are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing and utilities. If you're paying more than 30% of your annual income on housing, you're paying more than you can afford while maintaining the ability to afford other needs, according to experts at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grace Church has 10 locations across the Upstate and saw more than 6,000 attendees on average each Sunday in 2021.

Cavin said Grace Church is excited to expand its housing ministry and work with local housing organizations to do so.

"We're incredibly grateful to be a part of what Greenville is doing," Cavin said.