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Greenville Business Magazine

Apartment Communities Have Positive Impact In South Carolina

By LaCole Gadson

Senior Regional Property Manager, HHHunt

You probably drive past them. It is very likely that you or someone you know has lived in or currently calls one home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 400,000 apartment homes in South Carolina.

Apartment homes and communities serve a vital function in our state and across the country. They are the places where so many of our family, friends and neighbors live, and they have a significant economic and community effect.

For some people, apartment communities serve as their home for years, and for others it may just be a short time. Some come back after not living in an apartment for a while and may stay even longer than they did originally. That flexibility is part of the beauty of apartment living. Low-maintenance living, access to amenities and a strong sense of community are additional lifestyle characteristics that make apartment living popular.

Aside from the lifestyle benefits, apartment communities are crucial to the growth and sustainability of our state. New apartment developments bring significant investments to local communities and continued reinvestment in existing apartments are an economic engine for many areas.

Furthermore, apartment communities offer the density and quality needed to provide enough housing for South Carolina’s continued growth. As population increases in many parts of the state, apartments are a key solution to housing everyone.

In addition to the economic benefits, apartment communities and their employees are often philanthropic leaders. Employees and residents give back to their local communities in myriad ways. In the past 12 months alone in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, I have noted dozens of highly successful donation efforts to support local nonprofit organizations, including blood drives, book drives, food drives, pet supply drives, clothing drives and more.

When taken collectively, donation programs from apartment communities across the state have generated thousands and thousands of items and substantial monetary support for a wide array of worthwhile causes.

A great many apartment communities in South Carolina are truly that - communities. This observation was confirmed in 2020 as property management teams at apartment communities adapted to new challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. More than a year since the pandemic seemingly turned life upside down, the ways in which the apartment industry across South Carolina responded and adjusted to the needs of residents have been remarkable.

A few common examples highlight the agility of our industry and the innovative approach that so many teams took. The most important response to the pandemic was prioritizing the health and safety of residents, team members and guests. Federal, state and local public health guidelines were closely monitored and followed. Many apartment communities undertook steps to enhance cleaning and sanitation in all common areas, including adding sanitizer stations.

Technology has played an important role in how apartment communities have adapted during the pandemic. In an effort to ensure social distancing and allow as many residents as possible to enjoy amenities, new online reservation systems launched. These systems allow residents to safely reserve time at various amenities around a community. Likewise, smart home technology is becoming more common in apartment homes. These tools allow property management and leasing teams to better monitor equipment and provide contactless service with features such as keyless entry.

Another trend that took hold in the past year is the rise in virtual and contactless tours and move-ins. Thanks to technology, you can now tour an apartment and even move in without stepping foot in an office or seeing someone in person. This option allows for greater flexibility and convenience while also providing an additional level of comfort for those who prefer contactless experiences.

The pandemic also propelled apartment communities to get creative in maintaining and enhancing that sense of community. Feelings of isolation became common for many as in-person gatherings were limited or discouraged. Thoughtful teams found news ways to connect through virtual events and photo contests.

Contactless resident events have become a new standard in the industry. From to-go meals to food trucks, events have evolved. Creating kits for residents to participate at home and then share online is a great way to build connections. These kits have ranged from making cupcakes and cookies to art projects and plants. Although most apartment community teams look forward to the return of larger in-person gatherings, these contactless events engage with residents in new and fun ways.

Most importantly, though, property management teams displayed empathy for residents. Few things are as personal and important as home, and our industry worked diligently to support residents in need.

From widespread programs to reduce fees and establish payment plans to consistent communication and updates about public health guidance, apartment management teams were a source of reassurance and calm during tumultuous times.

As we begin to emerge from this pandemic and see brighter days ahead, apartment communities will continue to play a crucial role in the daily lives of so many and in the continued growth throughout our state.

I encourage all of us to take a moment to reflect on the positive impact apartment communities have made throughout South Carolina. Apartment communities provide quality homes, flexible living arrangements, welcoming environments and low-maintenance lifestyles for people at every stage of life. If you know one of the thousands of professionals who work at an apartment community, consider thanking them for their contributions.

LaCole Gadson is a senior regional property manager for HHHunt. Based in Charleston, she manages HHHunt’s apartment communities in South Carolina and has over 20 years of experience in the apartment management industry. During her career, she’s been involved in the National Apartment Association, Apartment Association of Greater Columbia and Charleston Apartment Association. She can be contacted at [email protected].