Housing homeless in St. Johns

Ambitious plans to help homeless people in St. Johns County seem to face an uphill battle.

According to a story in Jax Today, the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of St Johns County, Inc. hopes to redirect funds from a state grant into building new homes, even though the director admits such plans rarely are approved.

The new homes would be very small duplexes, at what appears to be a high cost.

The story says eight structures would be built and rented out as duplexes of about 800 square feet each – half the size of a typical home.

The state grant is only $247,000 but the story says the actual cost of the homes would be about $4 million. That’s $500,000 per structure. It doesn’t identify the source of the remaining funds.

The houses would be rented to homeless people for about $850 a month. Rental on a $250,000 home should be $2,000 to $2,750 a month, according to one Web site.

If the story is accurate, the coalition would spend $500,000 for a structure of 1,600 square feet, divided into two homes. Eye on Jacksonville easily found a 2,000 square foot house in St. Johns County for $500,000 on Zillow.

The agency currently has 23 homes.

  • 4 are transitional
  • 15 are permanent
  • 3 are leased in partnership with EPIC Behavioral Health Care for Sober Living Housing
  • 1 is a veteran’s home

The coalition says 767 homeless parents and children lived in the coalition’s cottages from 2013 through 2023 and 84 percent of the homeless families it serves “remained stably housed, self-sufficient, and contributing members of the community while participating in the Homeless Coalition program.”

It also says 94 percent of homeless families leaving ESHC program remained stably housed becoming contributing, taxpaying citizens. That’s a remarkable figure, if it is true, even though it does not say how long a period of time is involved.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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