From hovels to homes: abandoned homes may be used for vets and homeless families

by: Leslie Coursey Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

Deloris Anderson looks outside her front door every day and sees an abandoned home, wasting away.  It's lowering her property value and creating a place for vandals and vagrants to hide out.

"I'm ashamed to have people come over to my house," she said.

For weeks now, city leaders and volunteers have been working to create Jax Hope -- an organization formed to figure out the best way to take these abandoned properties, put them to good use and put them back on the tax roll.

"It's widespread. It's community-wide. And we need to address it," said City Councilman Bill Gulliford.

Guided by a steering committee created Monday, one idea being considered is rehabbing the old houses and turning them into transitional housing for veterans coming out of the Five Star Vets Center and homeless families coming out of the Sulzbacher Center.

"There's really over 10,000 abandoned properties.  And we have close to 3,000 homeless people. You do the math," said Sulzbacher CEO Cindy Funkhouser.

Neighbors are a little skeptical about the idea.  But Anderson knows something has to be done, so she can once again feel proud of where she lives.

“If we had some nice decent people in the neighborhood, who cared about the neighborhood, sure with no problem. But we don't know how that would turn out, you know?" Anderson said.

The Jax Hope steering committee is made up of representatives from the building industry, real estate, homeless and veterans advocates, and faith-based organizations.