SC Senate passes, then reconsiders, $271M rental assistance bill

SC Senate passes, then reconsiders, $271M rental assistance bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina’s Senate is looking for more information on a bill that would aid the Palmetto State’s renters.

At the beginning of Thursday’s proceedings on the Senate floor, the body voted to pass H.3770 which would allocate $271,774,744.30 for rental assistance.

Near the end of its proceedings, the Senate voted to reconsider the bill on Tuesday. The delay won’t impact the ultimate passage of the bill.

The House will need to approve the bill, and it won’t be in session until April 6.

Sen. Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) expressed concern about the following clause of the bill:

SECTION 3. Colleges, universities, and entities that provide medical and hospital care, whose employees are employees of the State of South Carolina or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized to contract directly with private parties to provide services related to federal employment tax credits pursuant to the Federal CARES Act of 2020 as extended to such state employees under Section 207 of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020.

“How much money are (sic) the universities taking and what colleges and universities are there?” Malloy said.

He said he supports the bill, but motioned to reconsider for the sake of clarification.

Sen. John Scott (D-Richland County) gave some insight on the clause before the reconsideration vote.

“For those colleges and universities that remained open during the pandemic, this just simply allows them to hire an outside person to be able to track the information to fill an application for tax credit. These tax credits don’t go to the university, they go to employees of the university.”

The remainder of the bill outlines how the rental assistance would be distributed.

As written now, SC Housing would administer the funds. The bill states:

(C)(1) An “eligible household” means a renter household in which at least one individual:

(a) qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;

(b) demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and

(c) has a household income at or below eighty percent of the area median.

Additionally, residents of counties that have been federally funded for their own programs would not be eligible. That includes Richland County.

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Previously, SC Housing ran a similar $25 million rental assistance program that closed in six days due to demand.

Media and Marketing Engagement Manager Chris Winston said SC Housing has learned from previous programs and is aware of the need.

“We know each time we need to do a better job, if we can, of keeping folks up to date. Knowing what might be coming their way, how we can help them get aware of the program.”

He said anyone who feels they may be eligible to subscribe to SC Housing’s emails for updates.

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