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Urban Design, Planning, and Housing

Major Initiatives

Charleston YOUth Count

The Charleston YOUth Count is an initiative of the Riley Center and key community partners to count and understand the needs and assets of people under age 25 who are housing and/or food insecure.  By documenting the size of this vulnerable population and scoping the nature of the services they need, it is anticipated that local, state, and national service providers will be better informed to act on their behalf.  

As a first step in the process, the Riley Center completed a survey of College of Charleston students to students to understand their nutrition and housing needs.  More than 2,000 students responded to the 70-question online-survey.  Student responses were encouraged during high-visibility CougarPalooza and Cougar Countdown events.  

Findings suggest that 30% of students are food insecure with half of that segment being very food insecure.  These students, estimated at more than 1,500, are neither eating enough to be healthy nor getting enough nutrition to maximize their academic performance.  

30% of the student population report being housing insecure.  For most of these, the housing insecurity stems from missing a rent payment or fear they will miss a payment as a result of increased housing costs.  Though small numbers, CofC students report sleeping in their cares, public places, couch surfing, and taking other measures to find safe places to sleep.  It is estimated that 70-90 students are truly homeless, actively trying but being unable to gain entry to a shelter.  Like with food insecurity, housing insecurity results in the inability of students to maximize their academic potential, with symptoms like missing class, failing to buy required texts, and not participating in key student academic and co-curricular activities.  

A task force was formed by the Executive Vice President of Student Affairs to help address the concerns uncovered and documented in this report.  The Riley Center plans to continue to use data to drive action from students, faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure all students have access to the food and housing they need.  

Download the 2017 College of Charleston Student Survey: Nutrition and Housing Needs, Food + Housing Insecurity Summary, and Appendix.

In the news:

Homeless and hungry at America's most beautiful College

For more information, please contact Robert Kahle at  

2014 Regional Economic Scorecard

Since 2010, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, in conjunction with the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has released an annual assessment of the economic well-being of the Charleston region, compared to other peer and aspirational regions around the country.  The scorecard provides the region’s business, governmental, community and academic leaders with unbiased data to help focus a collective effort to address any weaknesses and maintain positive momentum.  The 2014 Regional Economic Scorecard is the fifth annual assessment of our three-county region’s economic progress compared to six similar metro areas and two leading economies.

The scorecard is comprised of four indecies:  Human Capital, Innovative Activity, Entrepreneurial Environment, and Quality of Place.  Each index is then made up of several indicators; data on various topics gathered from federal government data-sources.  The peer and aspirational regions are then "scored" based on this data and benchmarked against the national average (indexed at a score of 100).  Furthermore, these indicators are compared to baseline values from 2005, rather than year-to-year changes.  The Riley Center was contracted by the CRDA and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce to perform the data collection and base analysis for the scorecard.  Download the 2014 Regional Economic Scorecard

For more information on the economic scorecard, its methodology, and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, please visit their website here.

2014 Regional Housing Blueprint

Building on the model of the Regional Economic Scorecard, in 2014 the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors and the South Carolina Community Loan Fund contacted the Riley Center with the idea of developing a "scorecard" type model to specifically look at housing issues in the Tri-County region.  This was done due to the fact that, year after year, the Charleston region ranked last in terms of housing affordability.

The Housing Blueprint was designed to determine what underlying issues surrounding houing in the Charleston region were causing this low ranking. The key issues/questions addressed in the blueprint are:  Density, Cost, Transportation, and Construction.  Similarly to the economic scorecard, each of these areas is then broken down into key points or indicators.  To maintain consistency in comparison with the economic scorecard, the same eight peer regions were examined along these same lines:  Austin TX, Greenville SC, Jacksonville FL, Knoxville TN, Lexington KY, Raleigh NC, Richmond VA, and Savannah GA.  Download the 2014 Housing Blueprint

For more information, please visit the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, and the South Carolina Community Loan Fund.

Charleston See 2020

Coming Soon

Charleston County Consolidation Study

Coming Soon