ST AUGUSTINE, Fla. (February 25, 2022) – The lack of affordable housing for people who work in St. Johns County has become one of the biggest issues facing local officials as the population continues to grow.
St. Johns Housing Partnership Executive Director Bill Lazar joined housing leaders and officials from nonprofits, local government, financial institutions, and Realtors at the World Golf Village during an Affordable Housing Roundtable to discuss the issue, including providing information on existing resources for people in need and new developments in the works.
Lazar shared statistics from an annual housing report called “Out of Reach” and other sources.
In St. Johns County, people are paying too much or simply priced out of finding a place here, leaving too many with long commutes from other communities, Lazar said.
As a result, people are leaving their jobs here and will continue to, making it harder for employers to find and retain workers beyond just those in the hospitality industry, he said. The issue is affecting public safety services such as law enforcement and firefighters.
“We’ve got both city and county government that can’t hire. They are not fully staffed right now because what they are paying for wages cannot keep up with housing prices. So, at a certain point, how do you get services?” Lazar said.
In St. Johns County, as of the 2021 report, fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,113. That would require someone to make $21.40 an hour and work full time to afford it, he said.
And the median home price in St. Johns County is over $450,000, he said. That would require a household income over $140,000.
Of the people who manage to find a place to live in St. Johns County, there were 10,500 cost-burdened households as of 2020, with people paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing, according to Lazar.
Influences in the market include an increased cost of building materials and “build-for-rent investors” buying properties, he said.
A planned St. Johns County Affordable Housing Fair is from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 23 at Webster Elementary School at 420 N. Orange St. in St. Augustine.
Lazar and others at the roundtable said that solutions will take a coordinated effort with nonprofits, the private sector, developers, local builders, and others. The St. Johns Housing Partnership is collaborating with builders, developers, housing and health agencies and other stakeholders to bring focus on the crisis to policy and lawmakers.
For more information contact Bill Lazar at (904) 824-0902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE ST. JOHNS HOUSING PARTNERSHIP
Founded in 1996 the St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) is committed to providing safe, decent, and affordable housing in North Florida. SJHP creates partnerships between public and private sectors including investors on projects that create low- and moderate-income housing, rebuilds neglected homes, and revitalizes neighborhoods in disadvantaged areas while supporting programs that enhance community economic and social development including counseling on homeownership and finances. For more information visit www.sjhp.org.
Photo Cutline St. Johns Housing Partnership Executive Director Bill Lazar, (left) Lindsey Rodea, Community Impact Coordinator, Flagler Health+ and board member at Habitat for Humanity, Melissa Nelson, CEO/President, United Way of St. Johns County, and Mark Nighbor, Chairman, Habitat for Humanity of St. Augustine/St. Johns County.