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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 10, 202110:30 AM EST

LISC Jacksonville, Lift Jax launch Eastside homeownership program

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The organizations will provide down payment assistance to five employed Jacksonville natives to live in the neighborhood.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

LISC Jacksonville announced Sept. 9 it would help five residents in the historic Eastside neighborhood buy homes, a step in a three-year initiative to support homeownership in neighborhoods where few are able to afford houses.

The Eastside is north of the Downtown Sports and Entertainment District.

Project Boots, funded by LISC and Lift Jax, will provide $14,600 in down payment assistance and homeownership training. 

During the yearlong program starting Sept. 11, the participants will need to meet a monthly savings goal and take 12 homeownership training classes.

After completing the program, the participants can buy a lot in the Eastside neighborhood where their home will be built.

To qualify, participants had to display an interest in living in the neighborhood and commit to living there for at least three years. 

The Eastside is one of six “under-resourced, neglected” Urban Core neighborhoods where LISC Jacksonville says it is working.

LISC Jacksonville is a community development organization that “is a bridge between capital and communities,” according to its website. 

It is funded by donations and partnerships with the city, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Home Loan Bank and Fannie Mae Foundation.

“This program will be a catalyst for attracting new residents to the neighborhood,” said Lift Jax President David Garfunkel.

LISC Jacksonville Executive Director Irvin “PeDro” Cohen said after a Sept. 9 news conference that houses will range from $185,000 to $225,000 in construction costs. They will be 1,800 to 2,400 square feet, depending on the buyer’s preference.

Some designated homesites are near the Weaver Center at 616 A Philip Randolph Blvd., but program members can select any lot that is for sale in the Eastside neighborhood.

The five program participants are Jacksonville natives and employed in schools, universities, pharmacies, city government and social clubs. 

The five Eastside program participants are:

• Erin Battle, media specialist, certified exceptional student education teacher at Tiger Academy Elementary YMCA Charter School.

• Gayandrial Ivy Henderson, associate ASLA, landscape designer, city of Jacksonville.

•  Rudy F. Jamison Jr., director, Urban Education Scholars Program, and assistant director, Center for Urban Education and Policy, at the University of North Florida College of Human Resources and Human Services.

• Dr. Kiersten S. Pough, pharmacist, CVS Pharmacy.

• Carlena Williams-Moye and Bruce Moye. Bruce Moye is president of the Eastside Brotherhood.

LISC Jacksonville also announced a maintenance program for Eastside residents to help with home repairs. It aims to repair 15 homes by December.

Cohen, who grew up in Eastside, said he hopes to bring similar programs to Jacksonville neighborhoods such as Durkeeville, North Riverside and others. 

“Project Boots is about providing support mechanisms to increase homeownership – a historically essential component in creating generational wealth – and inviting folks back to the neighborhoods, in which some of them grew up in,” Cohen said. 

“These residents are passionate about their communities and will demand more for their neighborhood, helping uplift the community as a whole in the process.”

He said that while the people in the program could move anywhere in town, it is important for them to live in the Eastside neighborhood.

“In order for kids in communities like this to be aspirational and want to be more than an athlete or an entertainer, they have to be able to see it. They have be able to see that entrepreneurship is a thing, because they know someone who lives close to them who is an entrepreneur, and it’s working for them,” Cohen said.

“We have to reinvest in communities like this if we want to create a better city. You have to have people like (the five in the program) who are committed to being in communities like this.”

LISC is seeking contact information for people interested in Project Boots at www.lisc.org/jacksonville/

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