Officials break ground on 92-unit affordable housing apartment complex in West Augustine

Dozens of affordable apartment units are soon coming to St. Augustine, an area in desperate need of more affordable housing.

It’s going to be called the Villages of New Augustine, comprising of 92 affordable housing units on about 6.5 acres at the intersection of North Volusia Street and Chapin Street.

It’s taken years of planning and millions of dollars to get to Wednesday’s groundbreaking highlighting what it takes to put a dent in Northeast Florida’s affordable housing crisis.

MORE: St. Johns County developer wants to build 650 homes, have 30% designated as workforce housing

Officials from public, private, and non-profit organizations all collaborated on the $25 million apartment complex which will provide affordable housing in the West Augustine neighborhood.

Sarah Arnold/ St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners.

“We’re seeing our [certified nursing assistants], we’re seeing our teachers, our firefighters, you know, especially people who want to stay in this community are unable to do so just because they can’t afford to live here on the salaries that we’re paying,” said St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners Chair Sarah Arnold.

RELATED: 7,400 essential workers in St. Johns County can’t afford a home. The county has a roadmap to address the issue

Arnold said with the influx of people to the area during the pandemic, housing has become unaffordable for many.

“We’ve seen just the median house price explode, and we are pricing out so many of our residents, so many of our workers,” Arnold said.

Workers like certified nursing assistant Kayla White. She moved into a nearby new affordable apartment complex called Victoria Crossing, a few months ago.

“It’s nice. It’s affordable, and we need more affordable places to live in St. Johns,” White said.

The Villages of New Augustine is designed for households earning up to 60% of the area median income. In Northeast Florida, that currently comes out to about $56,000 a year.

Rental prices for the Villages of New Augustine will vary based on household size, income, and apartment size, starting at a minimum of $547 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and a $759 minimum for three-bedroom units. There are 20 one-bedroom units, 36 two-bedroom apartments and 36 three-bedroom apartments.

White said she was planning to pay $1,700 or $1,800 a month in rent if she hadn’t gotten into her affordable housing complex.

“A lot of my friends have been trying to get in and they can’t. It’s full now,” White said.

In St. Johns County, December 2023 median prices climbed 10.7% to $564,787 for single-family homes, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR). The county’s NEFAR Home Affordability Index dropped, 4.2% to 46, indicating that it is growing more and more expensive to live in St. Johns County, the most unaffordable county of the six tracked by NEFAR.

Construction here is expected to wrap up in about 18 months—we’re told qualified rental applicants will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis, with the leasing process opening up closer to completion in 2025.

“This is going to have a tremendous impact in our community. But the need is still there. We’ve got a waiting list miles long,” Arnold said.

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