US Department of Defense keeps SC army out of housing hump

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South Carolina military families competing for housing in communities around their base have not received additional financial assistance for housing from the Department of Defense.

The Defense Ministry temporarily increased basic housing allowances in 56 housing markets in the last three months of the year. None of the increases – based in part on rental rates, utility costs, family members – went to South Carolina.

Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs William Grimsley said several communities in the state need the increased housing assistance and the additional assistance is an immediate concern. As a result of the state’s economic and population growth – over 5 million at the 2020 census – house prices have skyrocketed as people fight over where to live.

“We have rising housing costs,” Grimsley said. “Although salary increases do happen, they only happen once a year.”

The Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on this article.

However, according to a press release, the Defense Ministry based its decision on housing data from March through August showing that the COVID-19 pandemic “has had a significant impact on rental costs of housing” in the provinces. 56 markets affected.

“The low availability and turnover of rental housing stock in the spring and summer has resulted in increased rental costs in many locations,” the statement said.

Staff based in Savannah, Georgia; Asheville and Wilmington, North Carolina; Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina; and Camp Lejeune, among others, has received increases in housing allowances.

In South Carolina, housing costs have gone up. Costs have increased particularly in the Charleston area, which has a Coast Guard unit and a Charleston Joint Base.

“Charleston’s economic growth is well documented not only as a vacation spot … but also for business,” said Col. Marc Greene, commander of Joint Base Charleston. “We have a significant influx of new workers to the area and we are located in the middle of North Charleston. There is simply no accommodation available around the facility. So it’s a bit of a record.

Grimsley said that while there is cheap accommodation and some upscale, “there wasn’t a lot in the middle,” which could force staff to travel long distances to work.

“We have a challenge here. We have people who live far from their bases and (they) have to drive 45 minutes to an hour because they can’t find affordable housing, ”said Grimsley.

And with the cost of military child care, said Captain John Cole of the Charleston Area of ​​the Coast Guard, “Affordable living for families can quickly become a challenge. “

The housing problem is not just in the Charleston area.

The growth in work and activities based at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter has consumed the local supply of housing, Col. Lawrence Sullivan said. The base has contracted out apartment complexes for staff who rotate and stay in the area temporarily.

“What has been done is drive up the prices of housing for our airmen, especially the non-commissioned officers (non-commissioned officers) with families and junior officers (who) really cannot afford to live in a home they should be able to access, ”Sullivan mentioned.

“It’s a challenge for us,” added Sullivan. “There is no cheaper place for them that is within commuting range, so they just accept a lower quality of life. “

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Joseph Bustos is a state government and state political journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University, he previously worked in Illinois covering government and politics. He has won reporting awards in Illinois and Missouri. He moved to South Carolina in November 2019.
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