‘Housing is a right’: Jacksonville set to dedicate $8 million to help residents facing eviction

 It’s estimated there are 2,000 people in the Jacksonville area who are without a home. Adding to the problem, there have also been over 15,000 people evicted from their homes in Duval County. On Tuesday, the city council will take steps to try and help with the problem when it’s expected to approve nearly $8 million for new programs to help people stay in their homes. One woman who was facing eviction is a military veteran and mother of four. Debbie was on the verge of being homeless, but a program in Jacksonville was able to help her. It’s a program that the city is trying to invest in and do more for people who are homeless in our city. “So, I lost my job. And due to childcare issues, and stuff like that, so I wasn’t able to make the rent,” Debbie said. She never dreamed it could happen to her. “I did everything I was supposed to do,” she said. But like others, it did not work. Debbie reached out to the group Changing Homelessness, and because she is a vet she was able to get into a program that is helping her with rent for now. For many others in Jacksonville that’s not the case and they are living on the streets or other places not their own. “So we need to make sure that Debbie’s story becomes a rare story in our community. Housing is health care. Housing is a right, we need to treat it that way. And we need to make sure that every single member of our community has a roof over their head if they need one. Because as a government that’s our responsibility to make sure we have a healthy community who can thrive,” said Jacksonville Affordable Housing Director Joshua Hicks. Dawn Gilman heads up Changing Homelessness and works with various federal and city grants. “What can we do to create more housing to create more stability for folks like Debbie,” Gilman said. Gilman said those ideas are being addressed but it’s going to take much more work and funding by the city. Debbie said it’s already making a difference for her.

In the Jacksonville area, an estimated 2,000 people are experiencing homelessness, and over 15,000 individuals in Duval County have faced eviction. To address this issue, the city council is set to approve nearly $8 million for new programs aimed at helping people stay in their homes. The funding is expected to support initiatives that prevent homelessness and provide assistance to those facing eviction.

The city’s focus on homelessness is underscored by the story of Debbie, a military veteran and mother of four, who found herself on the brink of homelessness after losing her job. Debbie, like many others, faced challenges that led to difficulties in paying rent. Fortunately, she reached out to Changing Homelessness, a local group, and, being a veteran, gained access to a program that is currently assisting her with rent.

Debbie’s experience highlights the importance of investing in programs that address homelessness and eviction prevention. The city aims to make stories like Debbie’s rare in the community and recognizes housing as a fundamental right and a key component of healthcare. Joshua Hicks, Jacksonville Affordable Housing Director, emphasizes the government’s responsibility to ensure a healthy community where everyone has a roof over their head.

Changing Homelessness, led by Dawn Gilman, collaborates with federal and city grants to implement solutions for housing stability. While efforts are underway to create more housing and stability, it is acknowledged that additional work and funding from the city are essential to address the complexities of homelessness and eviction prevention comprehensively. For Debbie, the support she received is already making a positive difference in her situation.