The City of Jacksonville opened the door to $3.3 million in federal dollars to help residents with rent and utility.
The helps comes as landlords have closed doors on 12,557 people evicted so far this year, according to the Duval County Clerk of Courts.
”The rent is rising, but my pay isn’t,” said Mariah Sustache, a renter on the Southside.
“It’s been just continually increasing throughout the years,” said Shelbi Kramer.
The City secured funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury after getting about $63 million last year to help residents. It’s available on a first-come, first-served basis for those who fall below certain thresholds or who face eviction.
”I do believe there’s still more need than resources that we have available,” said Chiquita Moore, the director of operations for the City of Jacksonville. “We are always being proactive in looking for ways to get other dollars to help those in the community.”
Affordable housing advocates like Dr. Irvin Cohen, the executive director for LISC Jacksonville, said it’s a temporary fix. LISC is in the midst of creating affordable housing units on the Eastside aimed at bringing professionals back to Jacksonville’s “legacy neighborhoods.”
The hope is to have 25 total homes across Jacksonville in the works by the end of 2023.
“Until we get incomes to raise, I think we’re going to have to find some way to offset the high increase in rents,” Cohen told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant. “If you were to go down some parts of Moncrief or 32nd Street, you would see people are charging $1,500 for rent. That’s just unfathomable when you are bringing home $3,000 a month.”
According to the Duval County Clerk of Courts, there were 858 evictions filed in January. That number nearly doubled to 1,588 in August. The number has dropped slightly to 1,063 so far for the month of November. That’s a total of more than 12,500 this year.
According to Eviction Lab, Shore House Apartments on the Southside had the most evictions with more than 100 since July. Experts fear once federal assistance money runs out, the problem will only continue to get worse.
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”We’ll start to see more and more people living in their cars. We’ll start to see more and more people living in the street. I don’t know about you — but that makes me completely uncomfortable,” Cohen said.
He added that until incomes are raised, it’s up to landlords, builders, and local leaders to find a solution.
The city’s assistance program is open now and closes at 5 p.m. on Monday. The online application is available by clicking here.