As a Jacksonville community, we must look out for our neighbors in need. Our low-wage workers were struggling to keep up with rent well before the COVID-19 crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic has made it worse. We have an affordable housing problem in Duval County and it’s time for our elected leaders across the city to recognize it and do something to address it.

According to the National Low Housing Coalition, a Jacksonville area minimum wage worker would have to work nearly 93 hours a week just to be able to afford a one-bedroom rental. Over 41,000 low-income renter households are budgeting more than 40% of their available income just on housing, according to data from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. Housing costs are rising faster than wages can keep up with the COVID-19 pandemic exposing an estimated 17 million Americans, nationwide, to eviction risk.

Thankfully, the Biden Administration has extended the eviction moratorium, but that is only a temporary solution. We need our local elected leaders to get serious about this crisis. We must speed up delivery of the federal funds already provided for rental and utility assistance. We should create additional city-run grant programs to help recently unhoused people regain their footing, and we should invest in raising the living wage on the local level. We have the resources, but we need the political will to act.

I believe that how we help and serve those in need is paramount to the type of community we want to be. Lifting up every resident is how our entire community rises and thrives. It’s a challenge I hope our local leaders will embrace.

Joshua Hicks
Jacksonville, FL
Beaches Leader Letter to the Editor