GHA finishes trio of housing units

The non-profit arm of the Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) cut the ribbon Wednesday morning on the last of three houses it built in North Lincoln Heights as affordable housing.

The three two bedroom/two bath units sit on a parcel that the City of Gainesville gave to GHA with the requirement that a house be built on it within two years. GHA tripled the commitment with three houses.

The first two completed construction a year ago and have been hosting families, and now the Brown family will move into the third unit.

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Pamela Davis, CEO of GHA, said collaboration among Gainesville, Alachua County and state representatives made the construction possible, especially with rising costs.

“[Construction cost] definitely has had an impact and that’s why the collaboration and the partnership are key―to help us fill some of those gaps in financing,” Davis said in an interview after the ceremony.

Alachua County provided $150,000 in State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program funds for the trio of houses, and the non-profit arm of GHA, the Gainesville Housing Development Management Corporation, added more than $200,000 for construction.

Gainesville Housing Authority CEO Pamela Davis

The rising costs have also forced GHA to review other project costs like a duplex being built in southwest Gainesville.

Anthony and Penny Brown will live in the newest unit added in Lincoln Heights. Their house has a ramp to help the couple as Penny has multiple sclerosis (MS) and Anthony is a disabled Army veteran.

“You can only help the ones that you can help, and we are two of the ones that you did help,” Penny Brown said. “So thank you. Thank you so much.”

The opening puts GHA one step closer to its board’s goal of 500 housing units within five years but still a far way off the needed amount.

“We have all put a lot of effort into improving housing across our city and across our community but not enough,” Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward said at the event. “We know that there are thousands of folks on the waiting list for homes like this.”

State Sen. Keith Perry echoed the sentiment, saying a home and stable environment increase the chance of success for children. Instead of thinking in election cycles, he said officials need to think five to 20 years down the road.

Currently, the wait lists at GHA for public housing and housing choice vouchers are closed. At a groundbreaking in August, Davis said more than 1,400 were on the list and the number would probably double if GHA accepted new entries.

She said GHA brings any federal programs available to local families for subsidising housing and self-sufficiency initiatives.

“Our goal is to have our families move in, move up and move out,” Davis said.

New home in North Lincoln Heights

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