Town houses a part of the solution (copy)

Housing experts say cities with affordability problems should look at building more row houses and town houses, like this one at 1085 King St. It's owned by the Charleston Housing Authority. The rent is typically kept below market prices to help workers afford them. Leroy Burnell/Staff

Charleston voters overwhelmingly approved the city's request to borrow $20 million for affordable housing projects, according to unofficial results in Tuesday's citywide referendum.

The measure drew support from more than 70 percent of voters.

The city plans to lend the money to public and private organizations creating affordable housing, either through new construction or by rehabilitating existing structures. It’s expected to produce more than 800 new rental units for different income levels.

The program could bring some needed relief to residents struggling to find an affordable place to live here. A Post and Courier analysis of housing prices reported Sunday found that affordable rental units have been decreasing rapidly across the region for several years, mirroring what's happening in San Francisco, Seattle and other big cities.

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While the $20 million in bonds would be backed by the city's taxing powers, which should ensure a lower interest rate, they are expected to be repaid by rent revenue from the new homes, not by a tax increase.

Both Mayor John Tecklenburg and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce backed the referendum, which had no organized opposition.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 843-937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.

Abigail Darlington is a local government reporter focusing primarily on the City of Charleston. She previously covered local arts & entertainment, technology, innovation, tourism and retail for the Post and Courier.

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