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S.C. military leaders say affordable housing, education among top concerns

Military housing meeting
Military housing meeting(WRDW)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 9:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina is becoming one of the most popular states for Americans to move to.

But commanders at some of the state’s eight military installations said this is creating problems for service members and their families looking for housing.

Those leaders shared their concerns Thursday with Gov. Henry McMaster and South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Will Grimsley during the annual Governor’s Commanders Briefing in Columbia.

Grimsley said the lack of affordable housing is a “very immediate” concern for military families, and the issue is becoming more pressing as more people in general move to South Carolina, according to the governor.

“That puts pressure on the housing market, and then you have the military people who are assigned here, and they have to have somewhere to live, and as you heard, some of the housing that is available within their price range based on their salaries is not as desirable as it ought to be,” McMaster said.

Service personnel stationed at South Carolina’s installations will also miss out on an opportunity to alleviate this housing issue.

Last week, the Department of Defense temporarily increased housing allowances for service members in 56 Military Housing Areas across the U.S. to keep up with rising housing costs, but no market near South Carolina’s bases will get that boost, though Grimsley said he believes they need it as well.

“When housing rises, go up, and pay stays the same, and then availability of housing shrinks because it’s just a competition for housing, I think it’s very important,” he said.

A handful of commanders also said education for service members’ children was another concern of theirs.

As many of those children are moving around every few years and moving to new schools, commanders said securing them a quality education especially becomes a challenge when service members are struggling to find a place to live, as many of the most highly-rated schools are already full.

But some commanders said this challenge has gotten better in South Carolina since last year, and state leaders said they will continue to work to alleviate it.

“The Department of Education is fully on board with us,” Grimsley said. “They’ve been working together, each of the school districts is working hard to do this, and it’s just a — we’ve just got to keep pushing on it.”

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