FCLF Board Member Shannon Nazworth, Executive Director of Ability Housing of Northeast Florida, recently spoke out about the importance of affordable housing for those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Below is an excerpt from an article published in the Jacksonville Daily Record on November 9, 2012. You can read the entire article here. To learn more about Ability Housing, visit their website, www.abilityhousing.com.
Ability Housing of Northeast Florida: Opening doors to independence
Removing that financial roadblock is the mission of Ability Housing of Northeast Florida Inc., a nonprofit organization that develops affordable housing for adults with disabilities and people moving from homeless shelters or transitional housing.
Ability Housing evolved out of Grove House of Jacksonville, which was founded in 1986 to operate a group home for six adults with developmental disabilities. That led to expanding the scope to providing community-based services to disabled people who lived in their own homes.
"We use much of the same model as a for-profit real estate developer and property manager. We're a business," said Shannon Nazworth, Ability Housing executive director.
She said homeless shelters provide intervention to move an individual or family off the street. Ability Housing can provide a permanent solution to homelessness by making available affordable housing that serves the community's most vulnerable members – those who have income, but can't afford market-rate housing.
The area median income in North Florida is $23,600 for an individual and $33,650 for a family of four. Making less than 50 percent can qualify a person or family to live at an Ability Housing property.
Nazworth said the average annual income of residents living at the properties is $8,800.
"To the typical person, that's a mind-boggling number. If there are children involved, it's outrageous," said attorney John Osgathorpe, shareholder at Taylor Day and chairman of Ability Housing's board of directors.
"Homelessness is not about housing, it's about affordability," Nazworth said.