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.