Great housing news from local Housing Partnership

Although it is just a picture now, St Johns Housing Partnership Executive Director Bill Lazar informed local Historic City News business editor Don Louis that he is “very excited” with the start of the partnership’s first new rental project located at 87 Evergreen Avenue.

The Housing Partnership, best known locally for helping low-income seniors stay in their homes, was able to help about 150 people last year in St Johns County.  Their services include helping residents to fix their home, to buy their home, or to stay in their home; and, in a new and meaningful way, they will be able to help participants rent their home.

“Lisa Drudi has been working hard on this and it’s finally coming out of the ground,” Lazar said, as he celebrated his announcement with business connections and others on his social media websites.  Lazar shared photos of ground work and the foundation being poured at the construction site.

  • The new building will include two apartments — each a 3-bedroom 1-bath residence with the rent ending up somewhere around $900 per month, according to Lazar.  That price point is almost unheard of in a housing market where the average 2-bedroom rental goes for north of $1,000 monthly. 
  • Not only do these new residences feature below-market rent, they will be certified “green” through the Florida Green Building Coalition, meaning a lower cost of living each month going forward.

“A huge shout-out to Ameris Bank for providing St Johns Housing Partnership with financing that will allow us to build at least a dozen units over the next 12-months,” Lazar said, pointing out that this is one of the first truly, verifiable, affordable housing rentals built in St Johns County in almost 15 years.

Many working middle-class families cannot afford to reside here, even if they are employed here.  Lazar noted that twenty-five percent of workers commute to St Johns County for their jobs, traveling from Putnam County or Duval County.  This scenario hurts — because these workers, including police officers, firefighters, school teachers and others, are taking money out of the local economy only to spend it where they live.

There is a mismatch between the wages people earn and the price of decent housing according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. They have reported that in Florida the “housing wage” to afford a 2-bedroom apartment is $19.96 per hour.  A Floridian earning the median renter wage of $14.49 would have to work 55-hours each week in order to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at a Fair Market Rent of $1,038 per month.  At the state’s minimum wage of $8.05, a renter would have to work 99-hours to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, or 2.5 full-time jobs.