Officials with the Jacksonville Housing Authority gathered Friday to celebrate the opening of a new low-income housing development.
A longtime fixture of Jacksonville Beach, the Waves used to house 67 families. Now, after two years and more than $30 million in investments, it can house 127 families across multiple buildings near the waterfront. Most units have two to three bedrooms
“We have had the Housing Authority area here in the beaches for over 60 years, and the buildings were very old and outdated, and they really stood out, and not in a positive way,” said Jacksonville Beach Mayor Chris Hoffman. “So when the Jacksonville Housing Authority decided to focus on this as a project to build the new units and rehab the old units, we were thrilled.”
JHA Interim CEO Dwayne Alexander said the new buildings “changed the landscape” for low-income housing in Jacksonville Beach.
“In most cities, low-income housing units have outlived their life expectancy,” Alexander said. “Here, this site was 60-years-old. The plumbing system was antiquated, the electrical system was antiquated. So we had the opportunity, along with Vestcor, our developer, to put a beautiful development here.”
Families who used to live in the Waves buildings before the redevelopment will be at the top of the list for units in the new buildings, Alexander said. But the need for low-income housing dramatically outstrips supply, he added, especially since the pandemic.
“Prior to this, we had every bit of 5,000 people on our waiting list. Now, we have about 15,000 on our public housing waiting list.”
A separate waiting list exists for Section 8 housing vouchers, which allow low-income families to seek subsidized housing at most rental properties on the open market. When JHA opened the waiting list to new applicants on February 8, Alexander said about 10,000 people applied.
According to its website, JHA manages 2,881 low-income housing units and 7,868 vouchers.
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.