Things are much better for Elizabeth Schmidt. She no longer lives in her car. She has a secure, clean apartment for $118 per month, well within her monthly Social Security payment of $570.

South Carolina Electric & Gas furnished her new home. An elevator to the second floor of Marshside Village off Spruill Avenue where she now lives makes it easier to come and go. A common area down the hall from her apartment has a flat screen TV, books, a computer and printer.

Before, she was sleeping in a car she could no longer afford because of the $309 monthly payments. At times, it got down to 20 degrees in her 2006 Forenza. "It was cold out there I tell you. I got out all my stress when I moved in here," she said.

Schmidt, 66, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, for which she receives regular treatments to improve her breathing. It's the same disease that killed her husband, Ralph Schmidt, at age 68 nearly two years ago. They were married for 18 years. He struggled to survive until their anniversary but could not make it. Tears came to her eyes and her voice cracked while talking about him. For a time, they ran the Dorchester Superette.

After his death, she sold their mobile home to pay off debt. "He was a very good husband. I didn't want for anything," she said.

She worked as a waitress at the Huddle House on Dorchester Road but had to quit that job a year ago because of her health.

When she found herself on the street because of a family squabble, she went to the Huddle House where the manager fed her breakfast and offered her a place to get out of the weather, at least for a while. The Waffle House on Aviation Avenue also fed her. There, friends told her to contact Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's Office on Aging.

Schmidt credits Bauer with getting her off the street. After three weeks living that way, she was able to move into Marshside Village on Jan. 21.

"I never voted a day in my life but I signed up to vote today because I will vote for him," she said Friday.

Marshside Village, which opened in September 2006, was made possible with a $3.9 million federal grant. It provides one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors at a cost of 30 percent of their income.

Mercy Housing Southeast, the North Charleston Housing Authority and the city of North Charleston joined The Communities Group to build Marshside Village. The 48-apartment building is part of 484 units of public and private housing. The $71 million project is on the 68-acre site of what once was the barbed wire-enclosed North Park Village public housing project.