DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — A safe place to call home takes on a new meaning in a time of crisis. Before the economic challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought, Duval County’s affordable housing units were already in high demand.
“We've we had hundreds of people who moved into our housing at the end of last year or beginning of this year, just before the pandemic hit," Shannon Nazworth, Ability Housing President and CEO said. "They had been homeless before moving in.”
Ability Housing focuses on affordable development to combat homelessness and supports adults with disabilities.
The non-profit already has five apartment communities in Jacksonville and others in Central Florida. Now, it’s ready to add to its portfolio and Ability Housing received a $500,000 grant from The Jim Moran Foundation to do just that.
Nazworth said the money has already been used to hire real estate professionals to help build a robust pipeline of development projects.
“They have hit the ground running," she added. "We already have five properties that we're actively pursuing, and three of which we've identified the potential funding sources for.”
However, Nazworth said these projects will take a few years to finance, build and can’t immediately be put into service to help those who are facing major economic challenges due to the pandemic.
“It's been a really rough year for all of us, but it's been hardest on those who are worried about losing their housing," she explained.
Countless people will face homelessness in Duval County by the end of the year, Nazworth said, if the COVID-19 Relief Package including housing provisions doesn’t get approved.
The version Congress passed on Monday includes an extension to the eviction moratorium until Jan. 31 and $1.4 billion in emergency rental assistance for Florida.
However, the $900 billion stimulus bill is still in a limbo after President Donald Trump asked for changes to be made on Tuesday.