SJHP needs your help.
Our client, Ms. H., is 56 with two sons. Her husband died 11 years ago. She works, as do her sons, but they are still low-income. She has been unable to keep up with needed repairs to her home, including a leaking roof, ceiling repairs, and rotted flooring.
We were able to qualify her for SHIP funds and replaced her roof. When we removed the rotted flooring, we discovered that the floor joists throughout the house were termite infested and needed replacing.
A volunteer group from Family Life Church helped remove all the joists and flooring.
We need to raise an additional $5,000 to help cover replacement costs and additional rehab to help make her home safe. Please consider a donation of any amount. Thank you for your support.
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It was an honor to be a part of this project.
Ty God bless you all
Thank you ❤️🙏
The Junior Service League of St. Augustine Carice DeLee Schuster Gini Rose Sarah Duffy-Smith
It's Time to Make Affordable Housing Matter!
Access to affordable housing is essential to strong, vibrant families and communities.
St. Johns County has struggled with a declining stock of affordable rental housing due to the conversion of units and property by cash investors, which is driving up costs. Compounding the issue, the pace of newly constructed replacement housing falls short of demand.
Here’s how you can help. bit.ly/AffordableHousingMatters ... Read MoreRead Less
The City of St. Augustine - Government released the presentation on the proposed affordable housing plan for the property on Holmes Blvd. in PDF format from the workshop earlier this week. drive.google.com/file/d/10TZ4DYkEuzZM3-mu6Q6dYLmKE8hsJuiD/view ... Read MoreRead Less
Our Executive Director Bill Lazar is famous! He recently was interviewed by Affordable Housing Finance.
Pop Quiz With Bill Lazar
Meet the executive director of St. Johns Housing Partnership, who shares what his Florida-based organization is working on this year.
By Donna Kimura
Bill Lazar is executive director of St. Johns Housing Partnership, a nonprofit creating affordable housing in north Florida. This year marks the organization’s 25th anniversary.
The Partnership’s work includes a nationally recognized weatherization program, new construction, energy audits, and home repairs for the elderly, disabled, and low-income families.
Last year, Lazar received the Jean Diggs Weatherization Champion Award from the National Association for State Community Service Programs.
What’s on your agenda for 2023?
We kind of spread ourselves thin. That may not be a smart thing, but someone told me a long time ago, “diversify your activities.” That way if the rug gets pulled out from one of them, you’ve still got something else going. We’re probably going to go from building six new single-family homes to 10 or 12. We have three different scattered-site parcels that we’re going to build a duplex or triplex on, rentals that we will keep in our own portfolio. Those are the heavy lifts because we don’t receive subsidies for them. We’re basically trying to use a line of credit to build them and get them stabilized. My hope is that sooner or later we’ll find some financing mechanism to bundle some of them. Our primary business for years has been fixing substandard housing that people on a fixed income own. We’ll work on 100 to 150 homes this year depending on where the funding lines up. The big challenge this year will be the increase in property insurance for our rentals and insurance companies requiring roof replacement for low-income homeowners’ renewal policies.
St. Johns Housing Partnership is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What’s been its secret sauce?
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to hire really talented people. That’s the key to any kind of business, having the right people in the right place. We’ve also always had the attitude of don’t say no to an opportunity. The first multifamily property we bought was back in 2009, and it was a USDA property built in the 1980s. The owner was at the point he was allowed to sell. A friend of mine at Legal Aid called and said you’ve got to buy this property, Southern Villas, even though we didn’t do rental housing at the time. She said, “You have to. If you don’t, there will be 60 seniors who are going to be homeless.” It took us about a year and a half to get it. Around 2013, we were approached by Gorman & Co. who said it wanted to partner with us to rehab the property. We needed it after 30 years. It was the third application when we received the housing tax credits needed to renovate the property.
Are you looking at doing more multifamily housing projects?
We’re in the process of trying to buy three other USDA properties. Two are family properties, and the third is senior housing. Two are in the 25- to 35-unit range, so they’re kind of small for the housing credit program. The other is 60 units. The USDA properties that we work with usually have a small number of units, so they don’t seem to score competitively for housing tax credits unless there are factors. We’re looking at buying these three properties because we don’t want to lose them to the private market, and they are an incredibly valuable asset in these communities. We want to figure out how to preserve them. Somewhere down the road we’ll find funding to upgrade them.
How have hurricanes and natural disasters changed your work?
It’s constantly evolving. The catchword is resiliency. I get involved in all these community conversations and statewide discussions about affordable housing and planning for the future. We’ve got rising sea levels, warming climates. The goal of our weatherization program is to reduce the utility bill on a house, on a very limited rehab budget. People used to be able to turn the AC off at night, and now they don’t. They leave it running. Improving the building envelope and properly sizing the HVAC systems really helps. Hurricane mitigation is a real challenge. For a long time, people kept saying that was a 100-year storm, a 500-year storm. We’ve seen storms that run across the entire state. I think we all have to admit that the 100-year and 500-year analogy doesn’t work anymore. It’s every year. We have to be prepared. The hard part is figuring out what to really do and where the funding comes from to be more resilient. I think the biggest challenge that Florida is facing this year and the next couple of years is the whole crisis with insurance. Our property insurance on our rental properties just went up 300%. To pass that cost on, we would have to raise rents $180 a month per unit. That’s going to hurt our tenants.
How did you get started in affordable housing?
I started back in 1998 with a nonprofit in Jacksonville called Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida (LSS). They had an ad in the paper looking for someone to help make small repairs at the homes of seniors. Volunteers were visiting seniors who lived alone, and they were coming back and saying the faucet wasn’t working or there was a leak under the sink. That led the organization to create a new maintenance position. I was working in construction with a friend when I applied. It paid $7 an hour. I had a budget of $500 a house. Whatever I could do for $500 to make the house better, I would. It could be putting glass in a window that didn’t have glass, getting a door to lock, or fixing a sink, and it grew over time. I also had a background of working as a community organizer, so LSS soon had me speaking about the work we were doing to raise funds and volunteers.
Why have you stayed working in housing?
The future of this country is tied to the workforce being able to live some place. Whether it’s affordable rental or affordable homeownership, there’s so much more work that needs to be done. As much as I love the tax credit program, I think somehow we need a 1% housing program. You can borrow money to buy a house or build a house, and if it’s all at 1% and for people under 120% of the area median income, that would have a huge impact on both affordability and volume. Affordable housing will only succeed when we have government, lenders, and builders/developers each participating. Regulatory relief, lower interest rates, and volume production are the three focal points. If anyone sits out, the success rate plummets.
What do you do when you’re not working?
My wife and I have raised two kids, and they’re both on their own. My oldest son is a cinematographer. My youngest son is a traveling cardiovascular invasive tech. Right now, we have six rescue puppies at our house. A rescue group needed a place to home the puppies until they are old enough to be adopted. My wife is retired, the puppies are a part-time “job” for her all day long. At the end of my day, it’s great stress relief to help out and watch the puppies.
www.housingfinance.com/news/pop-quiz-with-bill-lazar_o ... Read MoreRead Less
Bill, I can’t tell you how much I respect you and your commitment to housing that’s affordable even for those that in that extremely low income threshold! In my mind you are this county’s champion in the housing industry! Love you and your commitment to serve! This County is better with you!❤️😘
He’s one of the best people I know!
Congratulations, Bill! A great and interesting interview!
Great man with an honorable mission 👍
Outstanding! Thankful for all of the amazing work that you and the entire SJHP team do in our community!
You and your team do outstanding work in our community! Thank you!
Wow! That’s why you are never in the office 😁😁😁
Great man ty Bill bless you ❤️!
Our Housing Guru!
Thank you for all you do for our community.
One of the “Good Guys” left in this world.
A great new effort is happening in Jacksonville.
"While Mathis, her mother, Stephanie Robinson, and her 16-year-old brother, Adrian McKziee, were able to find housing through a partnership between The Community Foundation and Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation, they are far from the only family in need of affordable housing.
The home was donated by a Realtor family looking to sell and find a philanthropic role in the community, said James Coggin, senior director of grantmaking and impact investing for The Community Foundation.
They wanted to ensure the properties would remain affordable, he said. When they received the donation in December, The Community Foundation made a low-cost loan to Northwest Jacksonville CDC to purchase the house. Through this arrangement, the CDC can earn revenue to support its mission and provide affordable rental housing for families who need it."
Read more at ... Read MoreRead Less
As affordable housing crisis persists, Northeast Florida agencies step in to helpJacksonville continues to battle an affordable housing crisis as families look to nonprofits for help and solutions.
“Working at the Housing Partnership is a non-traditional experience,” says Executive Director Bill Lazar. “I started working with affordable housing programs 30 years ago as a carpenter and grew into my current job as Director.”
We have several positions open! If you or someone you know is looking for a job that has a positive impact on the well-being of others, please contact us!
We’re looking for a few good men and women! If you or anyone you know is interested in construction, give us a call. It’s a job with unique benefits. In addition to using your skills and knowledge to help others, you’ll learn about incorporating accessibility, energy conservation, and green building into remodeling and new construction.
The SJHP works to keep our neighbors-in-need living safely in their homes. From repairing rotting floors to improving accessibility and building wheelchair ramps, our rehab staff plays an important part in the health and safety of our clients. It’s hard, dirty work with a mission to help others. Must have a positive attitude, good work ethic, basic tools, and be able to pass a drug test and background check. Equal opportunity workplace.
Steady work, 40 hours/week, 52 weeks a year. Medical and dental benefits are provided after 60 days. For more information, please contact our Project Manager Susan Giddens at (904) 824-0902.
Learn more and apply for Carpenters and Helpers positions at www.sjhp.org/employment-opportunities ... Read MoreRead Less
Bravo! Thank you, Vested Metals International! ... Read MoreRead Less
Local businesses are suffering because of the lack of affordable housing.
The devastating trickle-down effect is resulting in a loss of qualified employees, recruiting of essential personnel and employees, and reduced hours or even shuttering of local stores, restaurants, and businesses.
Here’s how you can help. bit.ly/AffordableHousingMatters ... Read MoreRead Less
Happy St. Patrick's Day! ☘️ ... Read MoreRead Less
St. Johns County is conducting the 2023 Annual Funding Community Needs Assessment Survey and is asking residents of St. Johns County for their input about our community. The deadline for submission is Thursday, April 6th.
Please submit your anonymous opinion.
Click here for the short survey. www.surveymonkey.com/r/SJC23needsassessment ... Read MoreRead Less
Due to forecasted storms on Saturday, March 18, the City of St. Augustine is postponing its public site visit that was originally scheduled from 9:00am until 12:00pm at 450 N. Holmes Blvd., in conjunction with its architectural design consultant, Brooks+Scarpa.
So that the public is not impacted by the inclement weather, the site visit will be rescheduled at a future date.
The design workshop, or “charrette” will remain as scheduled on Monday, March 20 from 1:00pm until 5:00pm in the Alcazar Room of City Hall, 75 King Street.
"On Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am until 12:00pm, in conjunction with its architectural design consultant, Brooks+Scarpa, the City of St. Augustine will host an open site visit at 450 N. Holmes Blvd., in St. Johns County, for the purpose of introducing the proposed future site of an affordable workforce housing community to the public.
Those who attend will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to representatives from Brooks+Scarpa and the City, as well as walk the property and view land surveys.
Following the site visit, on Monday, March 20 from 1:00pm until 5:00pm in the Alcazar Room of City Hall, 75 King Street, Brooks+Scarpa will host a design workshop, or “charrette”. The public is urged to attend to provide input and feedback for considerations such as:
Overall project design
Pricing accommodations for future residents of all income levels
Potential additional services that could be provided to future residents within this community include, like:
On-site recreation, such as an exercise room, fishing, and walking trails
A community center that acts as an emergency (hurricane) shelter
Day care services
Education services, such as space available for classes or tutoring
Health care services, or space set aside for on-site health care visits
Transportation features, such as a bus stop, pedestrian access to the public sidewalk on Holmes Blvd., and bike racks
In addition, project feedback may be submitted via email to AffordableHousing@CityStAug.com ."
www.citystaug.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=364 ... Read MoreRead Less
Take this eye-opening quiz about homelessness in America.
"Homelessness is pervasive in communities across the United States. Find out if you understand the causes of and solutions to one of the nation’s most pressing challenges."
... Read MoreRead Less
How Much Do You Know about Homelessness in America?Homelessness is pervasive in communities across the United States. Find out if you understand the causes of and solutions to one of the nation’s most pressing challenges.
Florida leads the nation in unaffordable housing, with 56.5% of renters spending 30% or more of their income on housing.
Community members need your help. You can make a difference in what has become an affordable housing crisis in St. Johns County.
Our workforce, ranging from teachers to restaurant workers and beyond, can't find decent, safe, affordable housing in one of the most prosperous counties in our state.
Here's how you can help. bit.ly/AffordableHousingMatters ... Read MoreRead Less
St. Johns Housing Partnership's Susan Giddens joined Megan Austin and Santiago Lopez from Vested Metals International on The 904 Now App today to talk about the upcoming First Annual Vested Metals International Golf Tournament in honor of John Mark Leach. The segment starts at 5:10. SJHP is one of the beneficiaries of the tournament.
Learn more and sign up today at www.vestedmetals.net/golf ... Read MoreRead Less
Happy International Women's Day! ... Read MoreRead Less