Jacksonville homeless veterans get new affordable housing option
A national nonprofit organization that helps cities address homelessness has purchased an apartment complex in Jacksonville to provide permanent housing for homeless veterans.
New York-based Community Solutions paid $9.35 million for Caroline Village at 2929 Justina Road in Arlington, which has about 92 units, according to the nonprofit.
“As units are turned over, vacancies will be offered to homeless veterans first,” spokeswoman Anna Kim said. “The goal is to dedicate at least 50 percent of units to veterans as Jacksonville works toward its goal of ending veteran homelessness.”
Veterans living there will also receive support services. The purchase of a second facility in Jacksonville is underway.
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In April, Jacksonville’s list of homeless veterans included 191 names, including 120 who had a housing voucher or subsidy to pay part of the rent and were looking for an available unit, according to Community Solutions. There was insufficient supply to house them all, but adding Caroline Village to the mix will help close the gap.
“We are very pleased that they have acquired their first property in Jacksonville,” said Dawn Gilman, CEO of Changing Homeless, the regional homelessness prevention agency.
The purchase not only expands local supply, but “preserves the affordable housing we have,” she said. Caroline Village was already considered affordable housing because some of its current residents have housing vouchers with federal Veterans Support Services or are assisted by the federal Veteran Family Support Services program, she said. declared.
Mayor Lenny Curry said, “Jacksonville was selected for this opportunity because of our proven, coordinated and data-driven approach to meeting the housing needs of our most vulnerable citizens. With this acquisition, we have increased our portfolio of affordable housing needed to reach functional zero.
“Built for Zero”
Community Solutions coordinates the “Built for Zero” movement, an ongoing national initiative that has been helping communities, including Jacksonville since 2009, end chronic and veteran homelessness. The initiative develops real-time homelessness data, optimizes local housing resources, tracks progress against monthly goals, and accelerates proven strategies.
The goal is to reach “functional zero” for a certain homeless population, such as veterans, which means that capacity is available within 30 days to house every homeless person in that population who is looking for ugly.
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Caroline Village will expand that capacity, said Cindy Funkhouser, president and CEO of the Sulzbacher Center for the Jacksonville-area homeless.
“We are thrilled and very grateful to Community Solutions for choosing to invest in Jacksonville,” she said. “Our homeless provider community has worked closely with Community Solutions and reduced veteran homelessness by a high percentage over the past few years.”
The barrier to achieving “functional zero,” she said, has been insufficient affordable housing.
“Community Solutions is now solving this problem for this population,” she said. “No one who fought and defended our country should ever sleep on our streets.”
The property will remain nonprofit ownership for at least 25 years, according to David Foster, director of the Community Solutions Large Cities Housing Fund.
Jacksonville’s efforts to end homelessness stem in part from the fact that it is a large city with a “tight housing market,” he said, and these cities need the ” ways to create permanently affordable housing in a faster and more adaptable way than many traditional approaches allow”. .”
Community Solutions’ “social impact investing model” helps them to…accelerate their progress,” he said.
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Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman is CEO of Clara White Mission, which in 2017 opened the $3.8 million Beaver Street Veterans Villas. These apartments, which now house approximately 35 veterans, are also designed to be long-term homes with supportive services.
Caroline Village “is another opportunity for veterans to choose where they live,” she said, based on “where they are on their journey.”
The last full count of all homeless people in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, the annual Point in Time survey in January, was conducted in 2021. But Gilman and other homeless prevention officials Shelters in the region questioned the accuracy of the count, which appeared to show the number of people experiencing homelessness was almost 50% lower than in 2020.
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These data may have been too low due to the impact of the pandemic on homeless populations and their movements and the collection of data about them, Gilman said at the time. Also, a “weird” in a new app used by the agency to collect data produced “invalid data” to assess chronic homelessness, she said.
The 2021 tally showed 230 people homeless, up from 541 in 2020; 247 homeless families living in emergency or transitional housing, compared to 370 in 2020; and 160 homeless veterans living in emergency or transitional housing, up from 181 in 2020.
The 2022 count has been limited due to the ongoing pandemic. Changing Homelessness has decided not to enlist volunteers to survey homeless people and only count people who do not have permanent housing but are living in emergency or transitional housing.
[email protected], (904) 359-4109
TO LEARN MORE
• Community Solutions: PO Box 3524, Church St. Station, New York, NY 10008; community.solutions, facebook.com/cmtysolutions, [email protected]
• Change roaming: 660 Park St., Jacksonville, FL 32204; changehomelessness.org; (904) 354-1100; [email protected]