ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Many say finding an affordable place to live in St. Johns County is hard because the prices are high compared to homes in other surrounding counties.
Even with new developments under construction, few of them have homes that the working class can afford.
St. Johns County has two housing projects in the works, Assistant County Administrator Joy Andrews said, that will create about 200 apartments for low to moderate-income families.
Currently, the average cost for a home in the county is $290,000 according to Realtor Berta Odom.
"St. Johns County offers so much. The historic, the beach, the river. And the prices reflect that," she said.
But why is it so much harder to find an affordable place to live in St. Johns County? Odom has a couple of theories.
One is high impact fees, a fee stacked onto the price of a new home to pay for things such as fire stations, roads, and law enforcement. St. Johns County’s impact fees range from $9,000 to $17,000 for a small to midsized home. Odom says that makes it hard to keep house prices down.
"Nobody can afford and keep it at the $200,000 or $225,000 rate," Odom said. "Builders can’t. Individuals can’t."
She also says state funding for affordable housing based on the Sadowski Act is often used for other things.
"If we had more funds from the state and the impact fees were reduced -- or better yet eliminated -- there would be more builds for people that could afford a $200,000 or $250,000 house," Odom said.
According to county numbers provided by Andrews, 11,000 households (approximately 12 percent of St Johns County households) are spending more than half of their income on housing costs.