Currently, more than five thousand people are considered homeless in South Carolina. The federal government’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department reported in 2015 that there had been a 235 percent increase in the number of homeless over the last year. Homeless youth are not included in this count as obtaining hard facts about their numbers is often difficult. The state of South Carolina understands that one of the most basic needs for an individual or family is to have access to clean and safe housing. To that end, the state and the federal government works through many programs to offer housing access to vulnerable populations within South Carolina. Many reports indicate that homeless individuals and families may often be living with friends or relatives and go widely underserved. According to the law, these families are also considered homeless. The following offers information for South Carolinians who are looking for adequate housing and offers a brief overview of each program’s benefits and who qualifies.
SC Help in South Carolina
SC Help is a program that assists struggling homeowners who are in danger of falling behind on their mortgage payments. Established in 2011, this very new program is designed to help families stay in their homes. This program is offered at no cost to eligible participants and is sponsored in the state by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. SC Help can provide assistance through monthly payment assistance, transition assistance, loan modification assistance or direct loans. To qualify, the homeowner must live in the home full time and it must be his or her primary residence. Mortgages must be under a certain amount, and the mortgage company must be on the SC Help list of participating service providers. Applicants can submit their application online through the SC Help platform.
South Carolina Housing Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (SC Housing Program) is one of the largest housing assistance programs in the state. Participants are issued housing vouchers which they can take into the private sector and rent privately owned apartments or houses. Eligibility for this program is based on an individual or family’s combined income, household size and U.S. citizenship (or legal immigrant status). These housing choice vouchers are issued through public housing authorities in the state. In most counties throughout South Carolina, there are not enough available or qualifying homes or apartments for the program, so qualified participants are placed on a waiting list until housing becomes available again.
Housing vouchers can also be used for project based housing, and state owned housing. Both of these types of housing will accept the voucher, and if there is any difference between the rental amount and the voucher amount, the renter is liable for the difference. Project based housing also maintains a waiting list in many counties.
South Carolina Family Independence Program
In many states, this program is referred to as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The overall goal of the South Carolina Family Independence Program is to provide temporary help so that families gain the necessary time to regain their financial independence. The program aims to keep families together and children living in their own homes. In order to apply for this program, applicants must be considered low-income, a U.S. citizen (or legal immigrant) and be a resident of SC. Applications can be submitted through the South Carolina Multi Agency Partnership Portal.
Housing Assistance for Teens in South Carolina
As one of the most vulnerable populations in the state, SC teens have a number of programs designed to assist them in finding safe shelter. Teens are those SC residents who are under the age of 21. Several programs act as emergency centers for teens who are in crisis, while others offer a family-style living situation for pregnant teens or teen mothers with very young children. Several of these programs directly locate and address the needs of teens living on the street. Each major county operates its own version of these programs.
Housing Programs for South Carolina Seniors
A large portion of those SC residents who access housing assistance programs are seniors. More than 20 federal housing programs offer some sort of housing aid for the elderly. Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Grants are offered to qualifying seniors who need assistance adapting their homes to accommodate their disabilities. Still other programs in the state offer supportive housing for the elderly through the housing voucher program, where the elderly are given preference if there is a waiting list. Seniors who apply for a rental in a public housing complex are also given preferential accommodations. Reverse mortgages have become popular over the years, but many seniors are often reluctant to obtain them due to the large number of scams that have proliferated. HUD offers reverse mortgage counselling so that seniors who have equity accumulated in their homes can supplement their income with this additional income. The only reverse mortgage that is offered and insured by the U.S. government is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. FHA approved lenders handle them.