The Official Website of the South Carolina State Housing Finance & Development Authority

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Requests for Information under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act

Purpose
SC Housing is committed to ensuring timely and appropriate responses to requests for information in accordance with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The purpose of this policy is to set forth the policies and procedures SC Housing will abide by in responding to such requests for information. This policy is intended to supplement and assist in compliance with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (S.C. Code 30-4-10, et. seq.).

Format of the Request
While no particular format is required for requests, SC Housing offers and appreciates the use of its
 “Freedom of Information Request Form” (click here)
which is available on the SC Housing website.

Regardless of the format of the request, it should include the following information in order to ensure a timely and appropriate response is received:

• the requestor’s name and company name (if applicable)
• the requestor’s address, telephone number and e-mail address
• a specific description of the information that is being requested

The request should indicate if the requestor prefers copies of the information or only that the information be made available for inspection. 

The request must be submitted via email to FOIA@schousing.com or via the US Postal Service to the following address:

South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority
Attn: Legal - FOIA Request
300-C Outlet Pointe Blvd.
Columbia, SC 29210

Receipt of the Request
All requests for information pursuant to FOIA must be made in writing. All requests received by SC Housing are to be immediately forwarded to SC Housing's Legal Department for response.

The Legal Department will forward the request to the appropriate division within SC Housing to collect and review the requested information. The division should immediately review the request and advise the Legal Department if it anticipates that the effort required to respond to the request will exceed two hours and/or copies of the information requested would exceed 50 pages of documents. The division must also advise the Legal Department whether or not it anticipates that any items may need to be redacted from the requested information.

Items that may be Redacted from Requested Information
Items that are exempt under FOIA may be redacted from the requested information. Such items may include but are not limited to:

• Social Security Numbers
• Driver’s License Numbers
• Home Street Address or Phone Numbers
• Date of Births
• Bank Account Numbers
• Private Employer Salaries
• South Carolina Government Salaries under $50,000
• Copies of Drivers’ Licenses
• Income Tax Returns

If SC Housing does not redact personally identifying information, the requestor is warned that obtaining or using public records for commercial solicitation is a misdemeanor punishable by a monetary fine and/or imprisonment.
   
Acknowledgment of the Request
After the Legal Department has determined whether the information may be released or whether items are to be redacted from the information, the Legal Department will send an acknowledgement of the request. The acknowledgment will include a determination of whether or not the information will be released, the estimated fee for research and/or providing copies of the requested information and will provide a timetable within which a final response will be provided. 

If the information will be released, the Legal Department will confirm with the requestor whether it prefers SC Housing to provide copies of the information or whether it prefers only that the information be made available for inspection.

The acknowledgement must be sent to the requestor within 15 days (exclusive of weekends and legal public holidays) as required by law. 

Preparation of the Final Response
After being forwarded the request by the Legal Department, it is the responsibility of the appropriate division to collect the requested information, redact information as necessary, make an electronic or paper copy of the information and provide the copy to the Legal Department  within 5 business days of receiving the request. If it cannot be provided within 5 business days, the division should contact the Legal Department to notify them of the additional time necessary to prepare and provide the copy. The division should be attentive to any color images, oversized documents or other documents that may be difficult to scan within the requested information.  If not scanned appropriately, the Legal Department may request the division to re-scan utilizing the color or larger scanners.

Once the Legal Department receives the copy from the division, it will review the information and prepare a final response to the requestor.  The final response will include a copy of the requested information or it will indicate that the documents are available for inspection or copying. If the requestor has indicated that they want to inspect the documents, the requestor will be advised to contact SC Housing to schedule a time and place for the inspection. 

Electronic Requests/Responses
Electronic FOIA requests will be acknowledged in the same manner as written requests.

The requestor may request or agree to an electronic response. If the requestor requests or agrees to receive the requested information in an electronic format, then the information will be provided in a PDF format or other electronic format that protects the integrity of the document.

Fees
There will be no charge for SC Housing's examination and review of the requested information to determine if the information is subject to disclosure. 

There is no charge for the requestor to come to SC Housing's offices and review the documents.

If the requestor requires SC Housing to provide copies of the information requested and the information exceeds 50 pages, SC Housing may charge 20 cents ($0.20) per page for each page that exceeds 50 pages. If a request requires extensive expenditure of SC Housing  time and resources for research or compilation, SC Housing may charge a research fee of $15 per hour for each hour in excess of the first two hours necessary to search for and produce the requested information. 

The fees are the same regardless of whether the requestor is provided the information electronic or paper format.

The benefit of receiving the first 50 pages and first two hours of research time without charge is limited to once annually during a calendar year. Subsequent requests in a calendar year will not receive this benefit.

A deposit may be required prior to production of the requested information. The final bill for research and/or copies will be provided concurrent with or after the final response is sent to the requestor. 

By operation of law or at the discretion of SC Housing, SC Housing may produce the requested information at no charge to the requestor or at a reduced rate when it determines that it is in the public interest to release the requested information. 

Fees generally will not be charged to the media unless SC Housing determines that the cost for copying, compilation, and/or research is high. In such instances, SC Housing may provide the information at a reduced rate.

SC Housing will not charge fees to members of the General Assembly when their requests relate to their legislative duties.

Effective Date
This policy takes effect for requests received on or after January 31, 2014.