High rents, lack of affordable housing and limits on what type of housing can be built in Jacksonville are the main causes of our housing crisis locally, according to the mayor’s office.
It’s an issue that one part of Mayor Donna Deegan’s transition committee has been focusing on and in their final report, they offer some solutions for the mayor and city council to consider.
Anne Murray spoke with us Monday outside the Jacksonville Housing Authority office.
“I have been looking for me for somewhere to stay for at least three months,” Murray said.
She and her kids were forced out of their home after a fire destroyed her apartment complex, they have been staying family and friends. She is one of the tens of thousands of people in Jacksonville trying to find housing. She has a voucher to pay for a new place to live but says no one will take it.
“Yeah, they don’t take section 8. Ten times out of ten they’re not taking section 8,” Murray said.
She is far from alone. Problems like hers and others are what the Housing Transition Subcommittee has been looking into. In their report to the mayor – it focuses on three goals:
Improve housing efficacyAppoint a chief housing officer whose job would be to focus on the housing crisisIncrease attainable housing
That is the board’s new term for what’s often called affordable housing.
They want to see zoning codes changed to allow for more multi-family units like duplexes be built in the urban core.
Other goals: to strengthen housing and resident stability, help with eviction prevention and create a housing resource center.
During the meetings there have been complaints and concerns about corporate landlords basically buying up property and not making them readily available to low and moderate income households. That is what Murray is concerned about.
“I want to see more landlords taking section 8 vouchers because it’s guaranteed money,” Murray said.
We reached out to the housing subcommittee chair, and to some of the corporate landlords that have been criticized. The ones we spoke with said for the most part they take vouchers, but not in all cases.
JWB, a company that manages rental homes, released this statement, “We accept section 8 vouchers on all of our properties. That was a change we made this year. We used to only accept them on 5 bedrooms and multi-family properties.”