An updated application and licensing process for continuing care retirement communities in South Carolina is expected to help drive more construction projects and create more housing for older adults in the state, according to one real estate development and investment firm.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed into law legislation that updates laws from 1976 governing such communities in the state.

BRP Senior Housing Management helped drive the legislation for its new Seafields at Kiawah Island.

“This new legislation benefits potential senior housing residents, because the way the law was previously written, it was virtually impossible to build any new facilities,” the company said in a press release.

The amended law updates the application documents and process for starting up a CCRC, enabling companies to apply for a preliminary license while a community is under development and then obtain a permanent license upon receiving a certificate of operation.

Vickie L. Moody, CEO of LeadingAge South Carolina, told the McKnight’s Business Daily that the organization “was involved in the changes and supported the process along with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs that regulates CCRCs in South Carolina.”

According to the South Carolina State Plan on Aging 2021 – 2025, the state is the 10th-fastest growing state in the union, and its older adult population is projected to grow by 21.8% by 2030, from 1.19 million to 1.45 million.

BRP said it found itself swimming upstream against 1976 statutes when it applied for a CCRC license in 2021. The company then worked with South Carolina Department of Consumer Affair Administrator Carri Grube-Lybarker and her staff to draft legislation amending the CCRC statute.

The goal of the updated law, according to BRP, was for the state to explicitly authorize a two-tiered licensing system. The draft legislation also explicitly authorized CCRCs to collect “reservation deposits” before obtaining a license, enabling applicants to demonstrate project feasibility to potential investors. With the backing of industry stakeholders, the legislation proceeded to the South Carolina General Assembly.

“This new legislation will have a profound effect on the South Carolina economy and future housing options for the state’s senior population, as well as current facilities with plans to expand,” BRP said. “This bifurcated process will help drive more construction projects that will boost the South Carolina economy as well as create more housing products for seniors, creating both social and financial stability. It will also enable already existing communities to expand their facilities, a process that would not have been possible under the previous law.”