GNV opens $7.2 million for local developers

City of Gainesville City Hall sign
Photo by Seth Johnson

Gainesville opened $7.2 million in affordable housing funding for nonprofits and businesses to bid on over the next month.  

The funds come from the $32 million Gainesville received in 2021 from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The city has already spent millions of its ARPA money—giving nonprofit relief, building an Eastside urgent care clinic and supporting the city’s Community Resource Paramedicine Program. 

To be eligible for the housing funds, a city press release said developers must build subsidized rental homes or apartments for people who earn 65% or less of the area median income (AMI).  

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For units that will be sold, the developer must place the unit at or below 300 percent of the Gainesville federal poverty level. 

Harvey Ward
Courtesy of City of Gainesville Harvey Ward

Mayor Harvey Ward said he hopes the city has a stack of applications when the deadline closes on March 6. Then the commission will be able to evaluate and decide who to fund.  

“Traditionally, cities like us don’t have the opportunity to build that people infrastructure or to distribute the funds the way that we have the opportunity now,” Ward said Friday during a meeting with local reporters. 

He said counties and especially states and the federal government typically undertake housing projects because of the cost.  

Gainesville often partners with developers to turn in joint projects for the state or federal affordable housing grants. Now, Ward said, the city is the final authority for this pot of money. He estimates that projects could return for a final vote before the commission in two months.  

The plan, approved last year, sets aside $6 million for rental units and $1.2 million for single- or multi-family homes for first-time buyers, according to a press release.  

GRACE Marketplace Executive Director Jon DeCarmine estimates this program could build housing that would work for 80% of the residents at GRACE, which houses people experiencing homelessness. These people, DeCarmine said in a city release, can’t collect enough funds to reenter the housing market after falling out for a number of reasons—a group he calls “one-time homeless.” 

“We ask people, if housing was available to you that was affordable and met your needs, would you be interested in moving into that housing? And on average, 95 percent of people say, ‘Absolutely, if there was housing that was available and affordable, I would love to move into that housing,’” DeCarmine said.  

Ward also said funds from the new full-cent infrastructure surtax could bolster the $7.2 million in the coming years.  

Gainesville will earn an estimated $87 million over the next 10 years for public infrastructure, roads and affordable housing. Of those funds, the city can set 10% aside for affordable housing.  

Ward said the city still needs to work through the legal interpretations of state statutes, but more funds could come. Several commissioners supported using 10% of the infrastructure surtax for affordable housing at Thursday’s General Policy Committee meeting.  

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Kurt Johnsen

I would like to see the city commissioners, require that all subcontractors, if not the general contractors, be from Alachua county, if not Gainesville. Keeping that money in town supports the local economy and local workers wages which is an equally important part of the affordability equation.