Springfield residents upset over homeless housing plan

Renovations planned to house vets, homeless

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Residents in the Springfield area are fighting to keep an apartment for homeless people out of their neighborhood.

Neighbors met Thursday night to address their concerns with Ability Housing, the organization that plans to renovate the apartment building.

Neighbors told Channel 4 Thursday night they think Ability Housing is intentionally trying to hide the renovation. The group posed questions to leaders of the organization during a two hour long meeting.

"The time that they put this under contract we were never notified, yet our tax dollars are funding their grant. Yet they had no inspiration to contact the community for the entire period that they had the building under contract," said Springfield neighbor Michael Trautmann.

Ability Housing admitted they should have told neighbors of their plans for the building sooner and apologized. The organization said they didn't think they would receive $7 million in state funds to help build the 12-unit facility as quickly as they had.

"I don't believe that anything Ability Housing has done is intentional. They did not receive notification that they actually received the grant," said Ability Housing spokesperson Amy Rankin. "If they didn't get the grant there would be no Cottage Avenue Apartments."

Monique Varnardo, a former homeless veteran, said Ability Housing helped her get back her life.

"There are some of us through divorce or an abusive relationship, evictions, loss of income, is homeless. It's not just the people that you see that are drinking and drugging," said Varnardo.

Ability Housing wasn't able to tell Channel 4 when they were notified about the grant. They also said they have not closed on the property yet.

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