Chase Bank awarded a $20,000 grant to Ability Housing of Northeast Florida to be used for pre-development surveys for new housing proposals. The flexibility of the grant allows the nonprofit agency to expand its mission to create permanent housing solutions for individuals and families at risk of homelessness.
Chase Bank has awarded affordable housing developer Ability Housing of Northeastern Florida (Ability Housing) a grant for $20,000. “The grant will be used for what is called ‘back-office’ work -- environmental surveys, site selection and assessment, pre-development stuff,” Executive Director Shannon Nazworth said.
When developing affordable housing in northeast Florida, every decision made today will impact resources and investment in a cumulative fashion until the project is complete. Imagine shooting an arrow at a target that is very far away: it is important to get the vector right. That is why decision-maker Nazworth is happy to get help with those important first decisions in assessing and choosing properties and doing site surveys on possible new projects.
“It is not sexy and it is the hardest support to get. Sometimes you spend the money only to find out it is not a good project. But making the right decision at that point is very important, and the Chase grant will really help because it is flexible and allows us to use the money effectively.” This is the third year Chase Bank has given such a grant to Ability Housing.
Once the predevelopment process is completed, Ability Housing will tap resources from other funding sources at the federal, state, and local levels that include the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and low-income housing tax credits. “We find funding from a variety of sources to create housing for people with extremely limited resources,” said Nazworth. “But that initial funding is always hard to get and very essential and Chase Bank has really stepped up.”
Ability Housing also manages its housing projects in the area, making sure policies and procedures are followed. Shannon Nazworth feels that this is an important part of Ability Housing’s value to the community. “We need to be a good owner -- we owe it to the residents, the neighborhood, and our supporters.”
The need for affordable housing in Jacksonville is definitely there: a January 2011 Housing and Urban Development “Point in Time” survey found that almost 4,500 people were homeless on any given day in the month of January. Thirteen percent of them were veterans and 30 percent reported having a disability. The Duval County Public Schools identified 1,900 children as homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Shannon Nazworth, who is also Chair of the Florida Council on Homelessness, a state interagency council that includes the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the state Medicaid agency, and the Department of Children and Families, said that, “At the core, when we talk about homelessness, we are talking about a need for affordable housing. Once a person has housing, we can work with them on other needs.”
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