United Way of Northeast Florida is committing $10 million to improving the Jacksonville ecosystem for housing ownership and affordable housing opportunities.
“As we celebrate our 100th year of supporting this community, United Way of Northeast Florida is proud to make this $10 million commitment to help make it easier for our neighbors to access quality housing that meets their financial needs,” Melanie Patz, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida, said in a Nov. 15 news release.
“Making meaningful progress toward a more inclusive housing ecosystem for all means joining together with a group of committed, passionate and effective partners, holding ourselves accountable to find transformative solutions and supporting the direction of community members leading improvements in their neighborhoods,” Patz said.
“We recognize no one funder can solve this challenge alone, and we look forward to taking steps together with our partners to create long-term, sustainable change.”
The $10 million commitment will be distributed across three areas of funding.
• Infill development ($5 million): Creating a loan fund for developers to support new construction of single-family and multifamily units and the acquisition and rehabilitation of single-family homes in urban neighborhoods.
• Preservation ($4 million): Working to reduce the impact of heirs’ property issues in North Riverside and the Historic Eastside; repairing existing homes to support residents remaining in their homes.
• Nonprofit and community development corporations capacity ($1 million): Boosting capacity of existing nonprofits and CDCs working to help homeowners remain in their homes and to help owners and renters find affordable options in North Riverside, Historic Eastside and North Jacksonville.
The funding areas were determined with United Way’s Affordable Housing Task Force, which met from January to June.
The task force members included representatives from United Way, Florida Blue, CSX Transportation, Jacksonville Jaguars, LISC Jacksonville, LIFT JAX, Groundwork Jacksonville, Ability Housing, Vestcor Companies, Jax Community Land Trust, Fifth Third Bank, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Regency Centers, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Modern Cities.
The task force was chaired by Mari Kuraishi, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and Aundra Wallace, CEO of JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development division of JAX Chamber.
“We’re grateful to United Way for stepping up to help tackle the longstanding challenge of affordable housing in our community, and for engaging a task force that was intentional about defining the scope of the challenge and the scope of a realistic commitment,” Kuraishi said in the release.
“We look forward to this work complementing the ongoing efforts across the City, and together, we look forward to engaging in partnerships and policy discussions to create sustainable, long-term change.”
The investment builds on the $1 million investment United Way made in early 2023 to support neighborhood-based programs that rehabilitate owner-occupied homes and resolve ownership issues for inherited properties in Lackawanna, Mixon Town and the Historic Eastside.
Progress so far in partnership with Groundwork Jacksonville, the North Riverside CDC, LISC Jacksonville, LIFT JAX and Historic Eastside CDC includes:
• Completing 30 owner-occupied home repairs in North Riverside and Historic Eastside; and
• Serving more than 215 clients in estate planning and probate litigation for heirs’ properties in North Riverside and Historic Eastside.
According to United Way’s 2023 Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed Report, 147,200 households are currently on the Jacksonville Housing Authority’s waitlist for subsidized housing. The report states that Jacksonville’s affordable housing crisis is complex and requires a multifaceted solution from a group of committed partners.
The $10 million commitment represents a portion of the $20 million that billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated to United Way in December 2020.
The balance of the gift is appropriated to support United Way’s commitment to creating a community of opportunity where everyone has hope and can achieve their full potential, United Way says.
Founded in 1924, United Way of Northeast Florida addresses human-service needs in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties with support from volunteers, donors and community partners.
To learn more, visit unitedwaynefl.org or follow United Way of Northeast Florida on Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), LinkedIn and Instagram.