A $60,000 grant awarded to North Charleston is expected to improve low-income housing, health care and other issues plaguing the city.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Reinvestment Fund, a group that uses economic data to determine the need for change in struggling communities, selected North Charleston as part of their Invest Health initiative.

The groups are looking to help 50 mid-size cities, ones that have between 50,000 and 400,000 residents. According to a news release, North Charleston was selected because it’s one of many U.S. cities that face “some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment.”

The poverty rate in North Charleston is 23.9 percent — significantly higher than the average 15.1 percent poverty rate in U.S., according to Census data.

Local officials believe the grant will help the city by addressing jobs, community safety and other economic drivers. The team of local officials in charge of the effort is led by the S.C. Community Loan Fund, a Charleston-based nonprofit community development group.

“We are excited to work together with the city and local organizations to put these plans into action and address some of the major obstacles facing the North Charleston community,” said Anna Hamilton Lewin, the chief operating officer of the organization.

Other team members include leaders from the city, the Medical University of South Carolina, Metanoia and Lowcountry Local First.

Group members will spend the next 18 months speaking with advisers and coaches who can help them improve the health of the city. That includes four national meetings with the other 49 teams. The first meeting is scheduled for next month in Philadelphia.

“Our team will be assigned a coach and will have access to highly skilled faculty advisers to assist us in determining projects and improvements to focus on,” said Dawn Henry, North Charleston’s community development manager.

Henry said no specific uses for the funding have been identified yet. The grant will cover an 18-month stretch, ending December 2017. By that time, a plan designed by leaders and local residents should be ready for implementation.

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by Derrek Asberry