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Leaders in St. Augustine hoping to build affordable housing complex

The goal is to provide housing that is less expensive than market rate housing in the area.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The population continues to grow in St. Augustine and the number of rental units have dramatically decreased.

Assistant City Manager of St. Augustine David Birchem says they are seeing an affordable housing crisis.

“We have a shortage of affordable rental units in the city and in the county. A lot of that housing was converted into vacation rentals recently," said Birchem. 

The city owns property in St. Johns County on 450 N Holmes Boulevard and the city commission is interested in developing affordable housing.

Birchem says it's going to look like any other brand-new rental community of apartments, and there may be a mix of townhouses and single-family homes.

Reggie Maggs, co-owner of Meehan’s Irish pub and Seafood house, says affordable housing could benefit the restaurant business.  

“We’ve lost so many employees over the last couple of years because they simply just can’t afford to live in this area and with the affordable housing coming in, i’m hoping that there’s a change and a turn to it," said Maggs. 

Since the COVID pandemic hit, Maggs says it was a struggle to gain employees because unfortunately rent was too high.

“Everyone was paying more and more money but unfortunately it nearly wasn’t enough because renters were running there cost up so much money. No one could even afford to stay in the city even with getting paid more money," said Maggs. 

Birchem says they are still in the planning process for the affordable housing, and if the housing is approved by city commissioners, then we could potentially see construction starting in 2025.

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