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St. Johns County Commission dedicates 120 parcels to workforce housing

Expanding workforce housing has become a key issue for the commission as median home prices climb past $500,000

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The median price of a home in St. Johns County climbed over $550,000 in April, a number far out of reach for some.

"A lot of it is not affordable, or really geared toward people who are here, working, trying to raise their families," said new homeowner, Rebecca Fogle.

The search for a home in St. Johns County for Navy veteran Fogle and her husband was beyond stressful.

"There were numerous offers, or our agent would advise us not even to waste our time because somebody is going to come in with a cash offer," said Fogle.

RELATED: 'Keep Our Families Together' Act introduced to help with affordable housing in Jacksonville

Fogle wound up contacting The St. Johns Housing Partnership, a non-profit that helped her find affordable housing.

The director says they built 12 homes like Fogle's in her West St. Augustine neighborhood recently. They are the types of homes for folks like restaurant managers, youth pastors and roofers - an income bracket the agency has never had to serve before.

Fogle's going to have some more neighbors before too long, roughly 120 vacant lots all around her are soon going to be filled with work force housing.

Te county commission is taking a new approach to expanding affordable housing by dedicating land for that sole purpose.

St. Johns County Commissioner Henry Dean says the county has owned the lots for 15 years without much development. Now, the commission has decided to dedicate roughly 30 acres for new workforce housing.

"We have a severe shortage, I would call it a crisis," said Dean. "A lot of workers in the public and private sector cannot find any place to live in St. Johns County that's anything close to reasonable given their income."

The Community Redevelopment Agency will now set out to find developers and groups like the housing partnership to build the new homes on all of that land.

The homes will have to be affordable for a three-person household making no more than $105,000 a year.

The commission is also considering creating a housing authority.

"A housing authority has a unique relationship with Housing and Urban Development, can have much better access to federal grants that require no matching money," said Dean.

All so people like Fogle can afford to live in the county.

"Loving it," said Fogle. "It's the perfect location for us."

RELATED: Home sales fall again while prices keep climbing

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