A forum on the topic of gentrification will be held Tues. Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at Burke High School (244 President St.). The event is free and open to the public.
Former Charleston City Council member Kwadjo Campbell, who now lives in Greenville and works as an English teacher, organized the forum with his wife, Rashida Jeffers-Campbell. The couple will present a study they prepared regarding loss of diversity in neighborhoods including the Eastside, the Neck, and North Central. The focus will be on the Charleston peninsula, but Campbell says the forum will also look at areas including Cainhoy Plantation.
Topics of discussion, Campbell says, will include “what type of housing we want to build and for whom, what income levels, what type of rents they can actually afford.” He says he is inviting local government leaders and real estate developers to the event, which will end with a Q&A session.
“It’s not an adversarial type of event. It’s a kumbaya type of event,” Campbell says. “Let’s come together and work on a solution together.”
Campbell says his report draws heavily from the Housing Needs Assessment published in February by the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG).
“They did a lot of the empirical data collection for us,” Campbell says. “The way we articulate it, we articulate it from an African-American community lens and speak about the data and the alternatives to gentrification from the vantage point of the people who are being affected by it.”
One recent affordable-housing initiative by Charleston city government resulted in the construction of the Cottages at Longborough condominiums, which are meant for families who make up to 120 percent of the area median income. Campbell, however, says he thinks the city should focus more on securing housing for people who make 30 to 80 percent of the median income.
“That policy direction does not meet the need, and if we go that way, we will surely lose diversity in the city of Charleston,” Campbell says.