147,000 people on waitlist for affordable public housing in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With rents in Jacksonville in some places over $3,000 a month, affordable housing is a dream for over 100,000 people in the city.

Making affordable housing more accessible is a key issue for the new Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan.

All across the city, there are new construction projects popping up, including new condos and apartments that are out of reach for many residents. It’s a problem for many with average incomes, but for others it’s impossible.

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Right now, over 147,000 people waiting to get into public housing, according to city officials. But affordable housing is more than just public housing and for many in the city, it’s getting nearly impossible to pay rent.

Renter Isiah Williams said he’s barely getting by.

“Everything going up and wages are staying the same,” Williams said.

The goal of Deegan’s transition team committee that met Tuesday is to decrease the housing burden many are feeling in Jacksonville. The committee heard from the head of Jacksonville Housing Authority (JHA).

“They may be living somewhere they can’t afford,” said Dwayne Alexander, CEO of JHA. “They may be sleeping on someone’s couch somewhere. Some may be out of town, but the bulk of them are here and they’re looking for housing.”

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And while apartments are being built across the city, some with help with government money that have to set aside some units for lower incomes, those in the meeting Tuesday learned those incomes are way too high for those on the poverty line.

The committee also learned about the impact of a new development on the east side of Jacksonville where the stadium is located.

Suzanne Pickett, President of Historic Eastside CDC, said there is a concern there about the development that will be coming with a potentially renovated stadium and if people already living in the area could be priced out.

“We should have done something 10 years ago to find opportunities and solutions and not drag our feet on this, especially with the amount of development that is happening. Not just downtown, but all the apartments that are coming in the city of Jacksonville,” Pickett said.

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Pickett said her group will be meeting with the Jaguars on Wednesday to talk about the impact of potential development and what the team might do to help the community.

The meeting on Tuesday was only the second meeting of the group and it meet again later this month and next month and then come up with recommendations for the mayor on how to proceed with an affordable housing program. The meetings are open and residents are encouraged to participate.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.