Since 1934, the Columbia Housing Authority has been providing affordable housing to the citizens of the City of Columbia and Richland County in South Carolina.
Construction on University Terrace, the first low-rent housing project in South Carolina and the third such project in the nation, began on July 30, 1936. The project was completed by the Public Works Administration at a cost of $760,000, and opened for occupancy on August 1, 1937. The Housing Authority of Columbia sponsored University Terrace, and when the project was turned over to the United States Housing Authority in 1938, it was leased to the Housing Authority of Columbia for operation and maintenance. University Terrace consisted of 122 apartments--48 apartment units for whites and 74 row houses for African Americans. The sloped nature of the site provided a convenient physical barrier, a sixty-foot terrace, separating white and black housing. (Contractor for this project was M.B Kahn Construction Company)
The rents for the apartments included heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration and water. White families paid between $22.70 and $33.30 a month, and African Americans paid between $2.30 and $4.45 per week. The CHA named William Geddings as the manager and Maceo A. Entzminger as the African American maintenance superintendent at University Terrace.
An editorial in The State newspaper on August 18, 1937, had this to say about the University Terrace community:
"Here, too, is an example of that policy of parallel development for the races that wise leaders of both groups advocated in the South. There are healthful and attractive units for Negroes at the southern end of the block and apartments for whites at the northern end, with a 60-foot terrace between. Both are built according to the best available plans for meeting the needs of the tenants. Both are designed by making home life more healthful and attractive, to add to the efficiency of workers in office, in store, mill craft or trade."
The construction of the University Terrace community and the subsequent demand for the apartments there indicated a need for additional funding and more public housing in the Columbia area. Those who were not able to obtain housing at University Terrace were placed on a lengthy waiting list.
In September of 1937, the passage of the United States Housing Act of 1937, also known as the Wagner Housing Act, officially reorganized the federal public housing program and created the United States Housing Authority (USHA)(forerunner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development). Nathan Straus, who for many years had been interested in slum clearance and better housing, was selected to head the USHA. Under the new plan, local housing authorities would implement the design, construction and operation of projects and the USHA would provide program direction, financial support and a degree of technical and design assistance.
The Columbia group, supported by Mayor Owens, immediately asked for additions to the Columbia program. The USHA promptly earmarked funds for two projects.
These two new projects were Gonzales Gardens and Allen Benedict Court.
On June 12, 1939, Chairman W.S. Hendley announced that the first of the two projects would be named after the Gonzales Brothers, and would be located on Forest Drive, across from Providence Hospital. The property on Forest Drive was bought by the CHA on June 17, 1939, and included 23 acres of land that would suit 200 to 250 units of low-income housing. Construction of the new project began in late November, 1939, and the final plan included 236 dwelling units at a cost of approximately $1 million dollars. A firm out of Charlotte, North Carolina, V. P Loftis, was the low bidder on the construction contract for Gonzales Gardens.
Gonzales Gardens was opened for occupancy on September 16, 1940, and it was completely filled within 15 days. One hundred of the new apartments were made available to non-commissioned officers families stationed at Fort Jackson. The remainder of the apartments housed civilian families in the low-income bracket, according to federal law governing income levels.
The project was owned and operated by the CHA, and originally consisted of 236 units. Only white families were permitted to live at Gonzales. Rents originally ranged from $7.65 to $16.75 per month and included electricity, gas and water.
It was at Gonzales Gardens that the CHA first adopted the system of graded rents, making it one of the first housing authorities in the country to do so. Graded rents refer to the adjusting of the monthly rental amount according to the family's income.
In May of 1942, 44 additional units were constructed at Gonzales Gardens, bringing the total to 280 where it stands today.
Gonzales Gardens was built under the same loan contract as Allen-Benedict Court, and both projects together cost $1,800,000. Allen-Benedict Court consists of 244 dwelling units, and was originally developed to house only African Americans. It was also owned and operated by the CHA, and featured graded rents.
Allen Benedict Court
The CHA began accepting bids for the construction of Allen-Benedict Court on November 18, 1939. Arthur Wellwood, then director of the CHA, announced that Allen-Benedict Court would be situated within the area bounded by Harden, Oak, Calhoun, and Laurel Streets. The construction contract for the new project went to M.B Kahn Company in conjunction with the Boyle Road and Bridge Company.
The official start date of construction on Allen-Benedict Court was February 11, 1940. The plans for construction included 244 dwelling units of which, 182 were leased before the official move-in date of November 15, 1940. Just before the move-in date, M.A Entzminger was appointed the Resident Manager of Allen-Benedict Court by the CHA’s board of directors. The rents were very similar to those posted for Gonzales Gardens, but Allen-Benedict Court provided more options on apartment size than its sister project.
Andrew Jackson Homes
With the nation's entrance into World War II, Washington redirected its efforts to providing war worker housing. In support of the war effort, the CHA set aside 100 apartments at its Gonzales Gardens community for military officers and their families who were stationed at Fort Jackson. The war, and the resulting influx of military personnel into the area, had caused a severe housing shortage at the base. Additional housing at Fort Jackson was under construction at the time, and upon completion of the new community, named Andrew Jackson Homes, the CHA assumed responsibility for its management at the request of the Federal Government.
The Andrew Jackson Homes community was a defense housing project built by the Public Buildings Administration (PWA), consisting of 350 units for soldiers and civilian workers at Fort Jackson. The project cost approximately $1,150,000, and was located on 60 acres of land adjacent to Fort Jackson.
The first military families moved into Andrew Jackson Homes on July 23, 1941. With the completion of this project, the military families at Gonzales Gardens vacated, leaving 100 vacant units at that community. However, even this large number of vacancies proved insufficient to cure the need for additional affordable housing in the Columbia area.
In 1947, management responsibilities for Andrew Jackson Homes were returned to the United States Army.
The Columbia Housing Authority experienced a pause in its building and acquisition activities during World War II. Four years after the war's end, the USHA finally resumed its mission to provide housing for the poor, and as a result, additional low-income housing was added to the existing inventory in Columbia.
In 1949, two more public housing communities were proposed for the Columbia community. The first of those projects, Hendley Homes, was opened on July 1, 1952. It consisted of 300 units on a 22-acre site off Rosewood Drive. The area on Rosewood Avenue was considered a prime target for subsidized housing and urban renewal because most of that area consisted of substandard housing. The $2.5 million facility was named after the Chairman of the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, W. Smedes Hendley.
Construction of the Hendley Homes community was completed in June of 1952, and the first tenants moved in July. Those that were left without homes, because of the slum clearance on the Hendley Homes site, were given priority during the application process.
In 2000, residents on the Hendley Homes site were relocated once again, shortly before the community was demolished. In the spring of 2003, the CHA hired Urban Collage, a firm out of Atlanta, Georgia, to oversee the redevelopment planning process for the Hendley site. Several public workshops were held, and the final site-plan drew heavily on input from the community.
Shortly after the opening of Hendley Homes in July of 1952, Saxon Homes was near to completion by the Byck-Worrell Construction Company of Savannah Georgia. The company was the low bidder on the project at $2,487,347.00 for 400 units. The location of the new project was two-fold; Harden, Elmwood, Seegars Park, and the Southern Railroad bound the first portion of the project, the Southern Railroad, Slighs Avenue, Seegars Park, and Oak Streets bound the other portion. The Board members of the Authority decided that the new project would be named after Celia Dial Saxon, a well-known and dedicated educator in the State of South Carolina.
The official start date of construction was March 27, 1952, and the project was completed on April 15, 1953. The Saxon Homes community consisted of 400 apartments in 64 brick multiplexes and a large community office. The apartments ranged in size from one to five bedrooms. The Dedication of Saxon Homes took place on May 16, 1954, and with completion of this project, the Columbia Housing Authority increased its total unit number to 1,403.
An on-site daycare center was added to the Saxon Homes community in the 1970s. The Center was owned by the CHA and operated by Benedict College. In October of 2002, the daycare center was converted into a Health Center that is currently operated by Palmetto Health.
In September of 1999, the CHA received a HOPE VI grant to tear down Saxon Homes. The community was demolished in September of 2000, and rebuilding on the site began in May of 2003.
The demolition of Saxon Homes spurred the creation of "The Door Project: Connecting the Past to the Future," a joint effort between the CHA and the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties. The project, which took doors from Saxon Homes and converted them into public art pieces, was designed to preserve the memory of Saxon Homes and raise money for future public art projects within the new HOPE VI community and throughout Columbia. An auction of the doors in October of 2002 raised more than $70,000.
On April 18, 1956, the CHA secured approval for another project-- Jagger’s Terrace. The construction contract was awarded to the Shockley Firm at a cost of $731,462.00. The community was named after Rev. Charles Jaggers, a missionary to the poor, from Chester County, South Carolina.
The new complex consisted of 74 units, and was located on Barhamville Road. Construction took just over two years, and the community was officially opened on September 2, 1958.
Many of the previous housing projects had overlooked the housing needs of the elderly citizens of Columbia. The City's housing shortage included persons over 65, but none of the projects that had been built thus far were solely suited for the elderly with special housing needs. The Housing Authority quickly responded to the need for elderly housing by making it a priority during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The CHA's commitment to providing housing for the elderly served as a catalyst for the Oak Read High Rise project.
The location for the Oak Read project was on the corner of Oak and Read Streets, between Allen-Benedict Court and Drew Park. The building contains 111 units--56 efficiency apartments, 54 one-bedroom apartments, and 1 two-bedroom apartment (housing for the essential person). The construction contract was awarded to the Congaree Construction Company of Columbia at an estimated cost of $1,219,000.00.
Construction on Columbia's first elderly high rise began in May of 1966, and the doors of Oak Read officially opened on September 30, 1967. This property is still operated and maintained by the Columbia Housing Authority.
As the application waiting list continued to grow, the Columbia Housing Authority took steps to construct its ninth housing development. The new community was named Latimer Manor, after S. L Latimer, Jr., the longest tenured housing commissioner in the nation at the time. The 30-acre community was located between Colonial Drive and North Main Street on Lorick Avenue. Construction on the 200 units began in April of 1968 at a cost of $3,225,000.00 .
The cost was much more than the preceeding projects because Latimer was designed specifically for large families. This accommodation was an innovation for its time because up until this date, projects were built for smaller family sizes. The Latimer Manor community featured 30 two-bedroom apartments, 70 three-bedroom aparments, 80 four-bedroom apartments, and 20 five-bedroom apartments. The Charles J. Craig Construction Company completed construction in February 1970. Latimer Manor was dedicated on February 9, 1970, and families from the CHA's 1,100 name waiting list quickly occupied the complex.
During the construction of Latimer Manor in 1970, the CHA had begun to consider a second elderly facility. However, construction for the new elderly complex would be stalled because of over bidding by several contractors in October 1971. After the construction contracts were worked out, groundbreaking for the Marion Street High Rise took place on December 12, 1972. The ideas central to construction of Oak Read high rise; comfort, accessibility and efficiency, also guided the design of the Marion Street high rise.
The 16-story Marion Street High Rise consists of 146 apartments-- 85 efficiency units and 60 one-bedroom units. The cost to build the Marion Street high rise was $2,992,889.00. The H.L Coble Construction Company of Greensboro, North Carolina was awarded the general construction contract, and residents moved into the building in February of 1975. Once all the units at the Marion Street High Rise were filled, 350 elderly persons still remained on the waiting list.
Single Family Homes
During the 1970’s there was much discussion over the traditional form of public housing. The style of large community complexes seemed to fade and with it came innovation and change. The new style of scattered sites, single-family homes, and smaller locations all made a great change to the face of public housing.
In January of 1976, the CHA demonstrated its commitment to moving away from the traditional concept of public housing when it purchased 75 single-family homes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These homes were scattered throughout Richland County, and thus were in keeping with the Authority's efforts to decentralize low-income families. The money to purchase the homes came from HUD's Development program that was designed to help Housing Authorities acquire houses. The CHA continued to buy homes through the Development Program until 2001 when HUD eliminated funding for the effort.
In 2000, the CHA began acquiring single-family homes with funds from another HUD source. Due to the demolition of Saxon Homes in 1999 and Hendley Homes in 2000, the CHA was eligible to receive funds through HUD's Replacement Housing Program. Through this program, the CHA continues to purchase single-family homes that are located all over Richland County.
In March of 1976, the CHA ratified an agreement to begin administering a new housing program called Section 8 that would ultimately serve to further reinforce the concept of scattered site housing. Under the agreement, the Federal Government gave the CHA $247,000 a year for five years to pay rent supplements on 150 private rental units. Federal officials at the time indicated that additional funding would be available if the CHA was able to handle the additional units.
The CHA proved that it could handle the additional units, and since that time, the number of families assisted by Section 8 has swelled to more than 2900. Following are some of the key dates in the program's expansion:
The main difference between the Section 8 program and traditional public housing, is that the CHA does not own the Section 8 units. The units are owned by private landlords who have agreed to rent to families who receive Section 8 assistance. Families housed under Section 8 pay no more than 30% of their adjusted gross income toward rent. The CHA pays the remainder of the family's monthly rent directly to the landlord.
In June of 1976, after several snags, Hammond Village was added to the CHA's housing inventory. The original plans included over 300 dwelling units and a grant of nearly 5 million dollars to improve what had been known as the Camp Fornance area.
Problems arose, however, when it was discovered that the original plans for Hammond Village conflicted with a project that SCE&G had planned for the area. With the help of Senator Stom Thurmond and the cooperation of SCE&G, plans for the Hammond Village community were altered, and the project was completed.
The 16-acre Hammond Village site, which is located on Marlboro Street, features 78 units--12 one-bedroom apartments, 52 two-bedroom apartments, and 14 three-bedroom apartments. The cost of the property and the construction was $1.8 million dollars, far from the original estimate in 1969 of $4.5 million. The community was named after Lougenia K. Hammond, a dedicated community service worker in the Camp Fornance area for 18 years.
The dedication of Hammond Village on June 28, 1976, represented what could be accomplished when the City and area businesses worked together.
The shift in public housing philosophy played a major role in shaping the CHA's development plans in the 1980s and 1990s. The CHA continued its commitment to this philosophy when it received federal approval to construct four new communities. Unlike the large public housing complexes of the past, these communities would be smaller and less dense. Each site would feature 25 apartment units, and each site would be in a different location of the city. The four new projects were:
Each of these complexes had the same design. They consisted of 11 duplexes and three single-family units. All brick construction was used at a cost of $2,000,000. The dedication of the four new scattered housing developments took place on July 10, 1981.
With urban renewal and revitalization well under way, the CHA took advantage of another HUD grant and began development of the Wheeler Hill project. The approval and groundbreaking took place in May of 1980, and construction was completed in July of 1981. The 16 units at Wheeler Hill were the products of the new strategy, to locate low-income-subsidized housing in smaller groups, while scattering them throughout the city. The cost of the sixteen units was $667,150.00. The complex is located in a four-block area bounded by Rice and Pickens Streets.
On August 23, 1979, the CHA received a grant from HUD to renovate a six-story building known as Arrington Manor. At a cost of $2,797,673.00, which included both the acquisition and the renovation of the property, the high rise was redesigned to accommodate the elderly and the handicapped with features such as lower cabinets, elevators, and metal supports in the bathrooms. Located in Five Points on the corner of College and Oak Streets, Arrington Manor has all the necessary amenities for the elderly. The building houses 56 units--14 efficiency apartments, 29 one-bedroom apartments, and 13 two-bedroom apartments. The building opened for occupancy in 1981.
On August 4, 1980, the Cayce Housing Authority was created by the City of Cayce to deal with unsanitary and unsafe, inhabited dwelling accommodations in Cayce. It was also charged with addressing the shortage of safe and sanitary housing in the area for low-income families. The Columbia Housing Authority was contracted as the managing entity for the Cayce Housing Authority, and continues to manage its day-to-day operations.
The Cayce Housing Authority consists of 40 assisted housing units that are scattered throughout the City. The units at Spencer Place are designated specifically for seniors.
One year after the development of Arrington Manor, the CHA was on the move to create another set of subsidized communities. The first project would be known as the Eastover Community, and it became the CHA's first rural housing development since its jurisdiction had been broadened in February of 1976. The design for the project included the construction of 67, solar heated units on a 20-acre site in Eastover, South Carolina. Approval for the plan was obtained in late October 1980, and the project was completed in 1985.
Valued at nearly $2.9 million, the Eastover community featured one, two, three and four bedroom units that ranged from 679 square feet to 967 square feet.
In 1981, the CHA opened Arsenal Hill, a community of three brick multiplexes on Richland Street. The downtown location included 20 units--4 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom and 4 three-bedroom.
Construction on the Fair Street community began in 1984 and was completed toward the end of 1985. Fair Street included 2 duplexes and 4 triplexes of brick construction that housed 16, one-bedroom apartments suited for elderly living (those over 50 years of age). Fair Street is located in North Columbia, off Monticello Road.
The Dorrah-Randall community was added to the CHA's housing inventory in 1989, as part of a HUD program to increase the availability of low-income housing not concentrated in a large housing project and to disperse low-income and minority residents into areas of lower minority and income concentration.
Dorrah-Randall is located off North Main Street past Columbia College. It features traditional, two-story quadraplex architecture, and consists of 56, three-bedroom, walk-up apartment units. Although the Dorrah-Randall community defied the scattered site notion that became the standard during the 1980s, it did address the need for larger units to accommodate families with more members.
On June 16, 1982, the Columbia Housing Authority created Columbia Housing Authority Developments, Inc. (CHAD) to expand its ability to pursue alternative means to finance housing developments. In the 1980s, housing authorities were restricted from applying for certain grants; frequently, HUD specified that only 501(c)3 (the IRS designation for a non-profit organization) organizations could apply. This was especially true in the arena of creating housing options for the homeless. HUD regulations also stated that if a housing authority receives any income, those funds are counted against the operating subsidy the authority receives from HUD. This made it almost prohibitive for the CHA to plan any programs outside the realm of conventional public housing because of the financial disincentives.
CHAD was a key player when the CHA took steps to develop the Congaree Vista community. These new homes incorporated the idea of scattered sites and single family homes all in one. This Vista, as it is often called, is made up of three locations on Richland, Blanding and Pulaski Streets in Downtown Columbia. Each of the three sites feature three-bedroom Charleston-style town homes of brick construction that have parking in the rear. The Vista development was the first community in which the CHA was able to install central air in every unit.
The opening and dedication ceremony for the Vista community took place on October 15, 1995. Henry Cisneros, then Secretary of HUD, traveled to Columbia to take part in the event.
In October of 1999, the CHA purchased Pinewood Terrace Apartments in an attempt to replace some of the units lost as a result of the demolition of Saxon and Hendley Homes. The CHA paid $880,000 for the units using Comprehensive Grant funds. Located on Satchelford Road, the community consists of 31 two-bedroom units that were constructed in 1984. The building design featured two-story buildings connected by breeze-ways, each containing eight, single-story apartments. A fire in March of 2000 burned 18 units to the ground, and the CHA determined that it was not economically viable for the units to be rebuilt. As a result, only 13 of the original 31 units remain.
In December of 1998, the CHA embarked upon a new adventure--the creation of a homeownership community. To make way for this new development, the CHA demolished Jaggers Terrace. In its place, the Authority spent nearly $2 million to build 25, single-family brick homes to be sold for $80,000 each.
The homes were completed in August of 1999, and the first 25 families moved in. In order to remain, residents were required to work, attend school, and make strides toward achieving homeownership. The program proved its worth in 2000 when the first of the house was sold. (Contractor for Jaggers Plaza was Squires Homes)
The idea of building homes, rather than barrack-style apartment complexes, was the driving force behind the design of the T.S Martin Community. The T.S. Martin community isn’t listed as a HUD project, because it is a low income tax credit project for individuals who need subsidized housing (the Tax credit project was in conjunction with the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority and the CHA’s HOPE VI program). The land where T.S Martin was built was donated by the City of Columbia, and is located off Germany Street in Downtown Columbia. The community consists of 35 single-family homes, all with three bedrooms. The community, which was built by Mungo Homes, opened on August 20, 2002. It will remain a rental property for 15 years. At that time, residents of the community will have the first opportunity to buy the homes.
CHAD was a key player in the development of the T.S. Martin community, and is still the controlling entity.
The Celia Saxon Neighborhood was created through the HOPE VI program on the site where Saxon Homes once stood. Construction on the first units in the new neighborhood began in May of 2003. The first five units completed were Elder Cottages, designed for single individuals over the age of 50. Five former Saxon Homes residents moved into the cottages in February of 2004.
In January of 2004, infrastructure construction began on the lower part of the Saxon Homes site.
Although the philosophy of public housing design may have changed dramatically over the decades, the fundamental mission of the CHA has remained unchanged--that is to provide safe, decent housing for families with low incomes. The revitalization of Columbia can be attributed in part to the success that the Housing Authority has achieved through years of hard work and innovation as it strived to fulfill its mission.
As of today, the Columbia Housing Authority is actually two housing agencies, the Columbia Housing Authority and the Cayce Housing Authority, though Cayce is separate, but managed by the CHA and its staff. The CHA is considered a 509a, which is tax-exempt Public Charity declared by the Internal Revenue Service. Also a Federal agency the CHA and its affiliate Cayce, are governed under codified law in the Code of Federal Regulations.
History of the Columbia Housing Authority
Copyright 2019. Columbia Housing Authority. All rights reserved.
Columbia Housing Authority, 1917 Harden St., Columbia SC 29204 (803)254-3886