‘Housing is a right’: Jacksonville set to dedicate $8 million to help residents facing eviction

It’s estimated there are 2,000 people in the Jacksonville area who are without a home.

Adding to the problem, there have also been over 15,000 people evicted from their homes in Duval County.

On Tuesday, the city council will take steps to try and help with the problem when it’s expected to approve nearly $8 million for new programs to help people stay in their homes.

One woman who was facing eviction is a military veteran and mother of four.

Debbie was on the verge of being homeless, but a program in Jacksonville was able to help her. It’s a program that the city is trying to invest in and do more for people who are homeless in our city.

“So, I lost my job. And due to childcare issues, and stuff like that, so I wasn’t able to make the rent,” Debbie said.

She never dreamed it could happen to her.

“I did everything I was supposed to do,” she said.

But like others, it did not work. Debbie reached out to the group Changing Homelessness, and because she is a vet she was able to get into a program that is helping her with rent for now. For many others in Jacksonville that’s not the case and they are living on the streets or other places not their own.

“So we need to make sure that Debbie’s story becomes a rare story in our community. Housing is health care. Housing is a right, we need to treat it that way. And we need to make sure that every single member of our community has a roof over their head if they need one. Because as a government that’s our responsibility to make sure we have a healthy community who can thrive,” said Jacksonville Affordable Housing Director Joshua Hicks.

Dawn Gilman heads up Changing Homelessness and works with various federal and city grants.

“What can we do to create more housing to create more stability for folks like Debbie,” Gilman said.

Gilman said those ideas are being addressed but it’s going to take much more work and funding by the city.

Debbie said it’s already making a difference for her.

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