First Coast Connect: Local Nonprofits Fight For Disability and Homeless Housing

Mar 27, 2017

Shannon Nazworth, executive director of Ability Housing, discussed a deal with the city to expand housing for the homeless.

 A proposed settlement between Jacksonville and two nonprofits might lead to more housing options for the homeless in Springfield.

 

Shannon Nazworth, executive director of Ability Housing, a nonprofit that finds permanent housing for Jacksonville’s homeless, discussed Wednesday a deal with the city that will convert an apartment complex in Springfield into housing for the homeless on First Coast Connect.

Nazworth said Ability Housing’s plan to convert a 12 unit complex on Cottage Avenue into a home for the disabled and chronically homeless has been met with resistance from Springfield residents who don’t “want anymore homeless or disability projects in their communities.”

Nazworth said Springfield historically has had a high concentration of “what were not appropriate facilities.” Today, most of those facilities have closed because updated licensing and regulations restrict that activity to occur. As a result, it reduced the amount of services in Springfield today.

“It’s a shame on everybody that anyone had to live in those facilities,” Nazworth said.

The proposed settlement with Disability Rights Florida ensures that the city won’t discriminate against those with disabilities, while allowing Ability Housing to become eligible for Jacksonville Journey funding, a program that financially supports nonprofits who make neighborhoods safer.

Nazworth thinks a lot of the neighborhood fear comes from misconceptions about those suffering from mental illness.

“The stigma associated with certain homeless individuals that will bring bad activities to the neighborhood, and be a detriment – the research shows that’s not true,” she said.

On a given day, there are roughly 2,000 homeless people in Jacksonville, Nazworth said. Several thousand students in public schools are also unstably housed.

“The fear and the anger and the frustration is very real,” she said.

The final vote will be held at the City Council meeting March 28.

News Intern Joy Kader can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @joykader95.