JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local families are excluded from Jacksonville and cannot afford to rent or buy homes.
The average cost of a home in Northeast Florida has doubled over the past decade, according to data from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.
Meanwhile, there are approximately 41,000 low-income renter households in Jacksonville who spend more than 40% of their income on housing.
Action News Robert Grant of Jax visited the Jacksonville Housing Authority, where several people were enrolling in Section 8 and social housing.
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Carla Jennings, a disabled Jacksonville resident, is one of approximately 11,000 Jacksonville people on the growing waitlist for Section 8. By 2018, that number had fallen to around 6,000.
“I am disabled and [rent] took my whole check so I have nothing to live on, âshe said.
According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, rent has jumped 36% over the past decade. In Jacksonville, the average three-bedroom apartment costs around $ 1,100 and is now around $ 1,400.
âIt’s just a failure. No matter how hard you work, you won’t be able to afford housing, âsaid Shannon Nazworth, CEO of Ability Housing.
The local nonprofit builds or acquires apartments and single family homes to create affordable communities in Jacksonville. They currently operate six facilities in Jacksonville and three in Central Florida.
âUnfortunately, we experienced an affordable housing crisis before the pandemic. It will be much worse after the pandemic, âshe said.
She met Grant in the village of Hyde Park on the west side where 80 families live. Over 1,500 Floridians had a safe place to live last year thanks to Ability Housing.
She said Jacksonville’s new construction focused on high-end apartments. âWhile we have a boom. It does not meet the need for affordable housing.
It’s a problem of high demand and limited supply, which leaves real estate agents to set the price, Dwayne Alexander said. He is the CEO of the Jacksonville Housing Authority.
“Jacksonville is a symptom of what’s going on across the country.”
JAI is currently undergoing a transformation and Alexander has said he is trying to change the perception of public housing.
The organization currently accommodates just under 30,000 families with 2,800 social housing units and 8,300 section 8 vouchers.
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The $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill includes $ 5 billion that will be used to help residents pay for housing with a voucher. Alexander said he doesn’t know how much will go to JAI yet, but expects to find out more in May.
Jennings said a positive response to her Section 8 request could put her on the path to solving her financial problems.
âYou have auto insurance, you have personal needs and you have groceries,â she says. “These are basic daily needs and it’s hard to meet your needs when your money isn’t changing, but everything else is.”