Ability Housing breaks ground on Westside apartments

The Village at Hyde Park coming to Jacksonville's Hyde Park neighborhood

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville-based nonprofit group is hoping to help dozens of families with the lack of affordable housing in Northeast Florida.

Ability Housing will break ground on 80 affordable, multi-family apartments on Jacksonville’s Westside.

The new community will be built on Watergate Lane, which is just off Lane Avenue South in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The Village at Hyde Park apartment complex will offer one- to three-bedroom units. Rent for these units will vary, but they'll be well below the market rents by several hundred dollars.

Construction will begin soon on the new complex, with hopes for it to be up and running by next year. For families in need, this is the start of a new beginning.

Growing Problem: Lack of Affordable Housing 

Experts have said there isn't enough affordable housing for hard-working families and some are ending up homeless. It’s a well-documented issue in the River City.

Shannon Nazworth, president and CEO of Ability Housing, said unveiling this one complex will help the growing problem. 

"We have a dire need in our community for more housing affordable to the entire workforce," Nazworth said.

Two recent reports from the National Low Income Housing Coalition help illustrate the need for this type of housing in Jacksonville: 

  • Approximately 36% of households in Northeast Florida (Jacksonville HMFA — Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns Counties) are renters — slightly higher than the state average of 35%.
  • Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a one-bedroom rental in Northeast Florida is $775. FMR for a two-bedroom rental in Northeast Florida is $947.
  • A worker who makes the state minimum wage ($8.25) would need to work 72 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom rental in Northeast Florida at FMR. That number jumps to 88 hours per week (lower than state average of 104 hours) for a modest two-bedroom rental.
  • Jacksonville has 27 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 Extremely Low Income (ELI) renter households (defined as households with incomes at or below the poverty level, or 30% of the Area Median Income).

The problem has gotten so bad that shelters, like the Sulzbacher Center, have told News4Jax they sometimes have no choice but to turn away families.

"Those are people who need a place to live. Those children- we can all imagine the impact on those children and their future. We have got to make sure that none of our children are living in cars or on the street,” Nazworth said.

She believes the solution is more affordable housing. 

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