The portion of South Carolina residents who own the homes they live in was lower in 2010 than a decade earlier, and the number of vacant homes and apartments has soared, new census data reveals.

Statewide, 69.3 percent of housing units were owner-occupied -- higher than in many states, but below the 72.2-percent ownership rate in the Palmetto State in 2000.

In Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties there were 38,555 vacant residences in 2010 according to the census, reflecting the collapse of the housing bubble.

The population of the tri-county area rose quickly during the past decade, but the number of housing units -- houses, condos, apartments, seasonal rentals and other housing -- increased even more quickly.

That's one reason vacancy rates for both owned-homes and rentals were higher in 2010 than in 2000, in all three counties.

And while the big number of vacancies sounds shocking, only about 3 percent of homeowner properties were vacant in each county. Most of the vacant residences were rental and seasonal properties, and rental properties can be vacant because they are between tenants.

Not counting seasonal properties, such as beach houses for rent, the tri-county area had 29,170 vacant residences in 2010, an increase of 66 percent from 2000. According to the census, 5,212 of those vacant residences were homes listed for sale.

Read more later at postandcourier.com and also in Friday's editions of The Post and Courier.