More than 30,000 people on waitlist for affordable housing in Jacksonville as rental prices soar

A new project on the Westside aims to address the issue

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Finding an affordable place to rent in Jacksonville can be difficult. The cost of renting a home or apartment has soared in recent years, and the Jacksonville Housing Authority is seeing this need for affordable housing firsthand.

Just a few years ago, the housing authority’s waitlist had around 6,000 applicants. But after a pandemic-fueled surge in the cost of rentals, that same waitlist has increased five-fold.

Jacksonville Housing Authority CEO Dwayne Alexander said the jump in rental housing costs is hitting lower-income families especially hard.

“Since the pandemic and many folks have lost their jobs and corporations and companies shut down, the need for low-income housing, as well as workforce housing, has drastically increased over the years,” he said.

Alexander said he’s seen rent in Jacksonville increase by 35% in some cases.

The waitlist for Section 8 housing in Jacksonville has swelled to over 30,000 this year, with a total of 100,000 on all the agency’s waiting lists combined.

JHA is now moving forward with two deals including a 102-townhome development on the Westside that will cost $33 million and have a mix of market rate and subsidized housing.

The subsidized townhomes off Normandy Boulevard will rent for between $1,100 and $1,500 a month.

People who qualify for help from JHA pay 30% of their income toward rent and the federal government pays the rest.

The goal is to help more low-income families, meaning those that make less than 80 percent of the area’s median income. In Jacksonville that is around $60,000 a year.

“It has to go to the housing authority to continue to walk down this path to be able to provide low-income housing for the person is Duvall county because it’s a needed asset. It’s a very needed asset in this community,” Alexander said.

There is also a plan for JHA to build or buy 500 more housing units every year moving in an effort to keep up with demand and help those who have been waiting.

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.