Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Housing Costs Threatening Area; Task Force Targets Affordable Living

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Housing Costs Threatening Area; Task Force Targets Affordable Living

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister

The Beaches and Jacksonville in general will lose its workforce and economic vitality if the area doesn't find a solution to the shrinking level of affordable housing, the chairwoman of a housing task force warned this week.

Expensive housing and gasoline will force people to work closer to home and make it tough for companies to hire low-to-moderate wage workers in places that don't offer enough affordable housing, Jacksonville City Councilwoman Elaine Brown told the Beaches Housing Coalition Wednesday.

Brown, a Neptune Beach resident, chairs a housing task force that the Jacksonville City Council set up last month to define affordable housing, find funding and suitable land to build more of it and suggest other solutions, such as zoning modifications for developers who set aside a portion of residential units for low-income residents. The task force is expected to release its study by September.

Brown said that many public servants such as teachers, firemen, clerks and police officers can hardly afford to live at the Beaches, much less entry-level professionals who recently graduated from college.

"They won't be able to buy, and worse, they won't be able to rent," Brown said. "We are, without a doubt, the critical area in Duval County."

She also noted that transportation is a key element in the housing and workforce issue and that the Jacksonville Transportation Authority will play a major role in the solution. …

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