The state of Florida is facing an affordable housing crisis, and nonprofit organization Ability Housing has been successful in providing affordable housing. However, funding limitations have caused delays in their proposal for a housing project in St. Johns County.
Despite having a perfect score on their proposal, Ability Housing had to wait three years to secure funding for the Villages of New Augustine project. The lack of funding at both the state and local levels is a major obstacle in meeting the demand for affordable housing.
The project in St. Johns County will include 92 units, along with community facilities such as a center, computer lab, library, playground, pavilion, and walking trail. The need for affordable housing in the area is evident, as even working professionals like teachers and police officers struggle to afford housing.
The St. Johns County School District, for example, has a deficit of 3,099 houses for its employees. Other major employers in the county, including Northrop Grumman, Flagler Health, and the Sheriff’s Office, face similar challenges.
The issue boils down to the affordability of housing in the county. Over 10,000 households in St. Johns County spend more than 50% of their income on housing, leading to constant financial crises. The standard guideline is that a family should not spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
The affordability crisis has expanded to the middle class, comprising nurses, teachers, sheriff’s deputies, and other essential workers. These individuals should not have to move to a different county to afford a home.
Despite the county’s wealth and high educational attainment, the free market has failed to provide affordable housing for low-income and middle-income families. Starter homes are not being built in St. Johns County, necessitating government intervention.
One of the main methods of financing affordable housing is through federal tax credits. The Villages of New Augustine project, for instance, will utilize $1,625,000 in tax credits, with the National Equity Fund and Bank of America providing additional investments. The St. Johns Board of County Commissioners is also contributing a grant and federal American Rescue Plan dollars.
However, this project is just the beginning,