On Wednesday night, hundreds of people were expected to line up in the cold to sign up for Section 8 housing.
It’s not to get into a home, but to be added to a wait list that already has 1,300 names. It could still be years before these new applicants have a place to stay.
Since April, Sharon has been living on the streets.
Like so many others, she feels forgotten.
“If you’re on drugs, there’s programs for you. If you’re an alcoholic there’s all kinds of programs for you. If you’re not a drug addict or alcoholic, and you’re a single woman without children, there’s no nothing. You fall through the cracks,” Sharon said.
She said she’s tried unsuccessfully several times to get on the Section 8 housing waiting list through the Jacksonville Housing Authority.
“If you’re not right there right when they open that list, you can’t get on it, and they close the list just as quick as they open it,” Sharon said.
On Wednesday, Action News Jax sat down with the interim CEO of the JHA off-camera.
He said Jacksonville operates with 7,000 Section 8 vouchers, but he admitted he’d like us to have more.
Future tenants must wait until current tenants leave to take their spot.
Until that happens, they join the more than 1,300 people who are on a waiting list. Some stay on that list for two years.
Shannon Nazworth is the president of the nonprofit Ability Housing, an affordable housing developer that works with JHA.
“There’s going to be thousands of people who spend the night in the cold, hoping to get an affordable place to live, and most likely, they’re going to end up on a very long waiting list,” Nazworth said.
Nazworth said this highlights a growing problem: less affordable housing in Jacksonville.
“Unfortunately, we're in a dire situation right now,” Nazworth said. “We currently have over 40,000 households that are low-income that are paying more than 40% of their income for their housing, which means they’re at grave risk for homelessness and housing instability.”
Sharon will try again just to get on the waiting list, knowing full well she’ll likely have to spend many more cold nights on the streets.
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