I was recently asked to comment further on a statement that I made publicly about dealing with Unseen Greenville. I said that change requires  dealing with structural and systems issues.  The person who asked me was serious about what I saw were some of the issues. This is the list that I handed to him.

  1. SC is one of five states without a minimum wage. Therefore it defaults to the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour). Working 40 hours, 52 weeks a year, which is rare when working hourly wages, means that an individual grosses $15,080. For a working mother with one child, this is not even meet the poverty level for a household of two.
  2. Some areas require developers to put a certain percentage of their project costs into a fund that builds low/moderate income housing OR they have to provide a certain number of units based on the size of the project. Our community does not have such to my knowledge.
  3. Some areas landbank property to protect it for low/moderate income homeowners/renters, especially before the developers come in.
  4. Developers of affordable housing are not using the legal means available to them to protect the affordability of the property for subsequent owners.
  5. Some areas grandfather in existing homeowners in developing neighborhoods to freeze their property taxes so that the homeowner does not get pushed out of the neighborhood for exorbitant (to them) property taxes. To my knowledge, this does not happen in our area.
  6. Providing public transportation is a systems issue.
  7. Controlling sprawl, even in the downtown area, is a systems issue. Many areas that were once for low income people are now for high income people. The project on the Sirrine side of the old Haynie-Sirrine neighborhood is one example.
  8. Some states provide the GED or an equivalent test to its residents at little or no cost. In SC the cost is $122.00. Subtests cost $24.40. South Carolina offers no subsidies.
  9. Emergency Rooms are used because: 1. They are open 24 hours a day so people can get treated when it fits their work schedule or when they can get someone to take them 2. Emergency rooms must see someone without requiring any co-pay or upfront payments.  The average cost of an ER visit in SC is $2100. It seems an all-night clinic that does not require payment at the time of the visit would be more cost effective.
  10. Housing First is a very successful model for dealing with chronically homeless people who suffer from extreme mental illness or addiction. Greenville has only 28 such units. A white paper discusses the housing needs for certain groups of the homeless population in more detail.
  11. There is no one-to-one replacement requirement for housing that is torn down in redeveloping neighborhoods or with public housing. Therefore people who could only afford the dilapidated housing or heavily subsidized housing that was torn down now have no place to live.
  12. There is a “cliff effect” for people who receive certain subsidies. They begin to work and pull their lives together and they lose the benefits that allowed them to begin to succeed. The theory is that if you work, you are no longer poor. Not so. This definitely requires structural changes at the state and federal level.

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