Affordable housing: What are the options in Northeast Florida?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Skyrocketing housing prices might be great news if you’re a current homeowner, but what about folks looking for affordable housing options in our area?

Carrie Davis with Wealth Watchers, an organization dedicated to providing affordable housing opportunities, pointed out that the average price for homeownership, according to the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, is $240,000.

That’s far out of the range of what’s considered affordable housing, she said.

She said the median income in Jacksonville, according to HUD, is $75,000, so folks making about $60,000 a year are considered moderate income. Affordable housing is defined as housing available to those who make less than the median income.

“That family whose making $60,000, they can only afford about $180,000 to $190,000 (for a home). So we are missing that quantity of quality housing that’s affordable and under $200,000,” Davis said. “There’s definitely going to have to be a great partnership between the public and private sector to try to fill that gap.”

About 2.7 million homeowners are currently in forbearance plans as part of the federal COVID relief plan, which basically means they can’t be penalized for not paying their mortgage.

The Biden Administration is extending the deadline for the eviction moratorium to March, but Davis said when those forbearance plans run out, many could face severe consequences.

“For mortgage holders, once the forbearance is over, what a lot of mortgage holders don’t understand is that there’s a shortage in their escrow account, so now their payments are going to increase because they’ve got to make up for those escrow accounts,” Davis explained. “For our renters, I think we’re going to see a significant increase in our homeless population because many of our renters are going to be facing evictions.”

She advised renters to reach out to the city and United Way through 211 to try to identify opportunities for rental assistance and said mortgage holders should communicate with their servicer to make sure they can adjust their payments to an affordable amount when the forbearance plan ends.

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