Commissioners expected to OK plan to address St. Johns County’s affordable housing crisis

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on a plan to address the area’s affordable housing crisis.

St. Johns is one of the wealthiest counties in Florida -- and one of the fastest growing.

While that has its benefits, it also poses new challenges.

A new study from financial tech company Smart Asset ranks St. Johns as the third wealthiest county in Florida, just behind Naples, in Southwest Florida, and Monroe County, home to Key West.

The median income is nearly $89,000 -- the highest in the state, and the median home value -- $515,000 -- is ranked fourth in Florida.

But there’s concern those home values are pricing essential workers out of living in the county.

Some of the biggest employers in St. Johns County, like Northrop Grumman and Flagler Health, say they are struggling to find workers because of the lack of affordable housing.

The issue could also affect recruitment for the sheriff’s office.

Commissioners said they’re trying to balance the need to establish reasonable price points with builder’s needs, and home builders say the county’s workforce housing laws are already too strict.

That’s led to some potential changes to the county’s proposed affordable housing plan, including setting the maximum initial sales price of workforce housing to $260,000. (It was previously $240,000.)

The plan would also reduce the number of workforce housing units required for any development from 40% to 30%.

Commissioners are proposing more changes such as:

  • Adding an extra year for workforce housing construction
  • Including a three-year deed restriction requirement for homes for sale
  • A mandatory requirement that the homeowner must live in the home
  • Qualifying household incomes must range between 80%-120% of the St. Johns County area median income

The St. Johns County Commissioners are expected to make a final vote on the affordable housing plan at Tuesday’s meeting, which starts at 9 a.m.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.