904WARD Points To Affordable Housing Shortage as City Drafts Pitch to HUD

Jul 12, 2021

Jacksonville has a shortage of about 36,000 low-income rental units, according to a new report from the nonprofit group 904WARD looking at how race intersects with housing in Duval County.  

904WARD’s Race In Retrospect series is based on decades of research on race and equity.  The group says discriminatory housing practices like redlining in the 20th century continue to hamstring Black communities. 

African Americans are less likely to be homeowners, and are more likely to be denied for a mortgage. And majority-Black neighborhoods have older homes with more mold, polluted soil, and more heat due to poor tree cover.

904WARD CEO Kimberly Allen says achieving racial equity requires expanding access to affordable housing. 

“There is certainly work that’s started, and I don’t think anyone would be wrong in saying we still have a ways to go,” she said. “We certainly have a number of efforts to increase affordable housing, mixed-income housing, mixed use housing, here in our city, even as we speak.”

Allen said the resilience and entrepreneurialism in Jacksonville’s Black community are driving investment in bettering neighborhoods. 

“We talk about some of the challenges, but there is still this story of, yes, survival, but also pockets of thriving,” she said. 

904WARD was founded in 2015 to “talk openly, challenge each other, support each other, and take action together to build a more inclusive Jacksonville.”

The group is calling on the City of Jacksonville to locate low-income housing outside of low-income neighborhoods; track home sales by race and location to better tell whether prospective buyers are being steered to certain neighborhoods based on their race; and steer city dollars towards the Downtown core and Northside neighborhoods. 

The city of Jacksonville is currently soliciting feedback on a draft of its plan to address affordable housing issues, along with economic development and public services.

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.