Julia Cash has had a long journey to get where she is today but says she is “now at peace.” The Chicago native moved to South Carolina to live with her son and daughter-in-law in 1989. After moving into an apartment, she became a caretaker for a relative of a friend.
After the woman she was taking care of passed away, her family asked Julia if she would like to buy the house. At the time, Julia declined the offer and her son purchased the house instead. Eventually, her son turned the home over to her and she has lived there since 1997.
When parts of her home fell into disrepair, she went to the Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources (SHARE) for assistance. At SHARE, she was referred to Rebuild Upstate. Between support from the SC Housing Trust Fund and Rebuild Upstate, Cash was able to receive a new HVAC unit, replaced flooring and updates to her electricity.
Julia can now safely enjoy her home and her neighborhood in Pine Hill. She has seen the neighborhood change over the years, and is glad that people from different backgrounds feel welcome.
“I go through the neighborhood looking to be a blessing to someone,” Julia said.
Rosa McCoy has spent 33 years in her home and doesn’t plan on moving anywhere else. When she first visited the house, she didn’t purchase it because the carport needed repairs. After visiting again, the carport was fixed, and she decided to buy the home. She has enjoyed living there ever since.
“I like the neighborhood because it’s quiet and the neighbors are friendly. We help each other,” Rosa said.
After living in the home for some time, her furnace and air conditioning unit stopped working. She reached out to a friend, who referred her to the Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources (SHARE). A SHARE representative came to her home and talked with her about the repairs. The community action agency made the repairs to her home through funding from the SC Housing Trust Fund.
“I just thank SHARE. I recommend them to anybody,” Rosa said. “I went across the street and told my neighbor, so SHARE came out and helped them out too.”
Thanks to the repairs, Rosa can live in her home safely and comfortably. She has 19 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with one great-great-grandchild on the way. During the pandemic, she watched her great-grandchildren, who she calls “The Brady Bunch,” from the comfort of home.
Erica Mijon was the first of her friends to become a homeowner. Erica is originally from Florida but stayed in Columbia after graduating from USC and falling in love with the campus. Following her graduation in May 2020, she started to look around for housing options.
As a young professional working for an insurance company, Erica had to consider the likelihood of working from home. Homebuying was the best choice for her so that she could work from home and take care of her dogs, Harley and Bear.
The timing was perfect for Erica to buy a home – interest rates were low, she had a solid down payment saved up and the homebuying process was much more accessible than she realized. She got in touch with a real estate agent who referred her to Guild Mortgage lenders. At Guild, a lender recommended she apply for SC Housing’s first-time homebuyer program. Erica qualified and the program covered her down payment.
“Because SC Housing had the homeowner’s program, I kept my savings while covering my down payment. It worked out well for me,” Erica said.
The savings that Erica didn’t use on her down payment were used to furnish her home and purchase necessary appliances. Thanks to the program, she is thoroughly enjoying homeownership. She has her own space and doesn’t have to worry about noise from neighbors while working from home. She can take care of her dogs in her spacious backyard and doesn’t have to worry about them interrupting important meetings.
After becoming a homeowner, Erica has noticed that many of her friends have started looking for and buying homes of their own. Although there are pros and cons to homebuying and renting, Erica says she would recommend homebuying to anyone looking for housing after graduation.
“I couldn’t speak more highly of owning a home right now,” Erica said. “I feel balanced and like I have a great foundation to start from. I don’t have to worry about the next couple years.”
After living in New Jersey his entire life, David Sandler moved to South Carolina to be closer to his family in Savannah. Before moving to the Beaufort area, David did some research into housing in the area. He found Ribaut Senior Village, a 49-unit apartment complex for older adults that received federal tax credits through SC Housing in 2018 and opened in 2020, before it was even finished, and moved in the first day they opened their doors.
“It’s a great building and a great facility -- a great place to live. A lot of nice people live here,” David said.
Today, David lives in the community with his dog, Daisy. He bikes the trails around his home to Sands Beach and Hunting Island. Many of the people in the community are also from out of state, which David says helps to create a “community of like-minded people.”
Originally from Michigan, Joan Suda moved to Beaufort after visiting her son several times. She and her husband moved to a community outside of Beaufort but decided to move closer to town to have more opportunities for social connection. After moving to Ribaut Senior Village, a 49-unit apartment complex for older adults that received federal tax credits through SC Housing in 2018 and opened in 2020, Joan found plenty of opportunities.
She lives in a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor that overlooks a wooded nature area. She enjoys spending time with her neighbors who she describes as an interesting group with a “cosmopolitan attitude.” Her favorite part is the community – there is always someone to talk to or play cards with.
“You learn a great deal about people -- where they’ve lived and their very interesting backgrounds,” Joan said.
Joan was born in Detroit, Michigan, and lived in Michigan suburbs for much of her life. She worked for the state of Michigan in public education and as a consultant. Since moving to South Carolina, she has made many friends and enjoys being able to meet people easily. She enjoys sharing her background and learning from those around her.
“It’s just a good place to be,” Joan said.
Bill Smith moved to South Carolina from Michigan in November 2020 to be closer to family. His son and daughter-in-law found Ribaut Senior Village through a family connection and suggested it to Bill.
Ribaut Senior Village is a 49-unit apartment complex in Beaufort for older adults that received federal tax credits through SC Housing in 2018 and opened in 2020.
“It’s been great, I really enjoy the place,” Bill said. “It’s a really nice facility and nice people.”
Since his move, Bill has enjoyed the milder winters and being close to family. He has two grandchildren in high school, and he is now able to watch them play sports and go visit his son more often.
Gail Simpson was born in Spartanburg, SC, and had spent most of her life in South Carolina. After dealing with deaths in her family, Gail had to make some major life changes. She went to LRADAC and was recommended to go to Transitions. Even though she had family members she could have stayed with, Gail chose to support herself on her own.
Transitions provided her with a place to sleep, take a shower, and three meals a day. Gail enjoyed the peer support classes and the frequent checkups from her case manager.
“Transitions can transform you into who you believe in being,” Gail said.
Gail was diligent in looking for work. She had previously worked for the Bojangles on Garners Ferry and went to a Bojangles location around the corner from where she was staying. She was hired on the spot and now makes an additional $1 an hour.
Gail was able to secure an emergency housing choice voucher through SC Housing and was quickly able to find a new home in the Villas at North Lake in Lexington. The program provides housing opportunities for those lacking housing or facing homelessness, including those escaping domestic violence or trafficking dangers.
In the application process, she expected to wait at least two weeks to actually move into her own apartment. She was pleasantly surprised that she got the keys to her new apartment at the end of her interview. Overall, the process was simple and took only 30 minutes.
“Housing did everything for me. Housing, Transitions, I thank you guys,” Gail said.
Gail moved into her brand new two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in late September with the help of her brothers and sisters-in-law. She enjoys the freedom and security of having her own apartment.
Shortly after her move, she transferred her job to the Bojangles location right by her home. She says she is happy now and that her family is very proud of her.
“I’ve climbed some heavy mountains, and I’ve crossed that river,” Gail said. “I know I’m ready now to be who I am and continue to make them proud of me.”
In the midst of the pandemic, mother-of-three Akira Johnson fell into uncertain times. When lockdown hit, her cosmetology business closed for a year, leaving her with no income and preventing her from doing what she loves.
Akira applied for unemployment and relied on the eviction moratorium to stay in her home. In February 2021, her unemployment ended and her business slowly reopened. However, she still had no steady income and struggled with not knowing how she could provide for her family.
She applied for rental assistance through the SC Stay and SC Stay Plus programs in early 2021. Originally, she faced a roadblock waiting on her landlord to provide documentation to support her application.
But when the SC Stay Plus program made changes to its program, Akira was able to apply for direct tenant support – without her landlord’s participation.
“Having SC Stay Plus there to trust in the people of South Carolina was a very important change, a change that helped many, many people,” she said.
In August, when the eviction moratorium ended, her apartment complex immediately filed for eviction. Akira was uncertain going into court, but felt that SC Stay Plus “stepped up on her behalf” and allowed her family to stay in their home.
When Akira received her check, she immediately signed it over to her apartment complex. The complex waived various fees, leaving her with a credit and a greater feeling of security.
“Being able to go home to my children and know that we were good was just the best feeling,” she said. “It took a lot of weight off of my shoulders.”
Sometimes a Google search can be life changing. So it was for Alexis Robinson, a teacher at A.C. Flora High, who was able to buy her first home thanks to Palmetto Heroes and down payment assistance. Alexis started her search with a simple search for “SC homeowner assistance.” One of the returns mentions “look into Palmetto Heroes.” Soon, with the help of Teri Smith at Ameris Bank (SC Housing’s 2018 Loan Officer of the Year), Alexis was out looking for her perfect home in a “semi-rural” area—something close to town but still quiet and private. She teaches advanced math courses to 11th and 12th graders and is glad to have a place to relax at the end of the day.
Catherine Cockman has never wanted to live anywhere other than her beloved Clover, SC. She grew up on Oak Street and still keeps up with her childhood friends. She says she has seen a lot of changes in Clover over the years and the latest change, the construction of the 41-unit Parkside at Bethel apartments (a Housing Tax Credit development) is one that was needed and welcome. Catherine was the first resident to move in. She had already downsized and was living with her daughter when she decided what she really wanted was a place of her own. At this point, she had a television, a chair and her parents’ bedroom suite, but her “other family” at the Methodist Church (now just across the street from Parkside) threw her a housewarming that brought her all the furniture and decorations she needed. She now enjoys having them visit her frequently in her beautiful new home.
Originally from New Jersey, Cindy LaJeunesse is a disabled Housing Choice Voucher recipient who found Sea Pointe Apartments in Beaufort, SC, through SC Housing’s free SCHousingSearch.com apartment location service. Cindy enjoys rescuing homeless animals, and the Housing Tax Credit apartments have beautifully landscaped walking areas for her latest rescue, Cooper; a friendly, seven-year-old Affenpinscher who is now her service animal.
After recovering from a bad fall and hospital stay, the South Carolina Housing Trust Fund made much needed improvements to Gordon Whitaker’s home, allowing him to stay in familiar surroundings. The former Marine was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 1995 for fighting off an attacker on a city bus and saving the life of the driver and other passengers.
During the summer months, students from the Columbia Urban League Youth Program work at SC Housing learning both the mechanics of business, as well as specifics about our affordable housing programs. The goal is to expose participants to the business environment and encourage their career development. Each student is on-site 20 hours a week for two weeks. They are assigned to an internal supervisor and awarded a certificate of completion at the end. Jalen Blunt came to the agency in July 2018 from Dreher High School to work with the SC Housing Development, IT and Procurement Departments.
When James Nobels decided to buy his first home, he was able to get expert advice from his father, a long time mortgage lender. That advice was, “Look into SC Housing programs.” James found a qualified lending partner, got preapproved and started looking for the house he wanted. Today James is happy at home in the Cayce/West Columbia area and says his new place is “Much more convenient than where I was renting. This is closer to where I needed to be.”
Following a divorce, Kim Theva and her children came to Anderson Interfaith Ministries (AIM) for assistance. As both a client and a worker, Kim signed on as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) staffer. AIM, along with SC Housing, helped her to get a priority Housing Choice Voucher. She worked while studying to complete her degree in 2011 from Anderson University, and by 2016, she was ready to buy her first home. Her AIM mentor (and now real estate agent) informed her of the SC Housing Mortgage Credit Certificate, which will save her 50% of her mortgage interest. Today, Kim is Director of Grants for AIM.
Life’s journey takes us many places. For Rose Rollison, the path took her from her native New York, to Dallas, Texas, through the Midwest and finally to Clover, SC, where she found a home at Parkside at Bethel apartments (a Housing Tax Credit development). Clover had been her husband’s hometown years before, and she always kept special memories of it wherever she had traveled. Now she lives in easy walking distance from her church, as well as shopping.