Trident United Way working to inform Tri-County high cost of living

Self Sufficiency Standard study highlights our region as one of the highest costs of living areas in S.C., further emphasizing the vital work Trident United Way does to improve financial stability for all


Trident United Way announces the findings of its 2020 Self Sufficiency Standard Study, which highlights the Tri-County is one of the most expensive places to live in South Carolina.

The study shows rising housing costs are putting many people in a bind, who end up paying far more for housing than their income may allow.

The full study is available here.  It compares the Tri-County with the rest of South Carolina and documents how a high cost of living adds stress to an already difficult economic time.

Over the past 23 years, The Standard has been calculated for 41 states as well as the District of Columbia and New York City. Its use has transformed the way policies and programs for low-income workers are structured and has contributed to a greater understanding of what is required to have adequate income to meet one’s basic needs in the United States.

Key findings:

  • The amount of income needed to make ends meet for one adult and one preschooler varies from $13.80 per hour in Orangeburg County to $22.94 per hour ($48,459 per year) in Charleston County based on federal poverty guidelines for a family of two.

  • Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Charleston is $1,450, about 42% of median individual post-tax income. The highest percentage recommended individuals spend on housing is 33% of post-tax income.

Trident United Way and its partners will use this information to educate people about how to navigate a high-cost environment through education, savings and other financial strategies.

Through strategic collaboration with our partners and grantees, we provide key services in the areas of education, financial stability and health so people can bridge the cost of living gap.

The information from the study is vital in identifying gaps, guiding service delivery and providing data that informs Trident United Way partners and the community about supporting individuals and families to be financially stable and self-sufficient.

Click below for downloadable soundbites from Amanda Lawrence / Trident United Way VP of Community Impact


SOUNDBITE #1 (Referring to helping clients) “Using the data from the study will allow us to share with them those costs that are part of our Tri-County community and what they need to do to get on a pathway to increase their income and skills and address the needs that they have right now.” :15

SOUNDBITE #2 “We also have the opportunity to connect them through the other pieces of the model to skills building, to employment, to resources, to housing, all of the pieces and parts that we know are essential to an individual becoming sustainable or self-sufficient.” :16

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina 2020 is a cooperative effort of the University of Washington Center for Women’s Welfare and the United Way of Association of South Carolina. Trident United Way is pleased to support the research vital to policy development and progress for people.




Celebrating 76 years of service, Trident United Way is a catalyst for measurable community transformation in education, financial stability and health. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, United Way is America’s favorite charity.