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Pensacola faith leaders propose solution to affordable housing crisis

by: Cody Long|Posted: Feb 23, 2023 / 10:05 PM CST | Updated: Feb 23, 2023 / 10:24 PM CST

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A local group of faith leaders have come forward with a plan to bring in more affordable housing to Pensacola.

This week, an interfaith organization called J.U.S.T. Pensacola (Justice United Seeking Transformation in Pensacola) proposed to the city council an affordable rental housing trust fund.

“If you are in this room and know someone who has struggled to find an affordable place to live in our city, raise your hand,” Co-President Marian Bennett said as everyone in the room raised their hands.

They’re asking the city to allocate $4.2 million to the trust fund each year for the next decade.

“The goal is to leverage trust fund dollars to provide 100 affordable rental units every year for the next 10 years…it can be done,” Rev. Ansley Walker said.

They say this will incentivize affordable housing developers to come to Pensacola.

The city is short at least 1,000 affordable rental units for those households that are 80 percent or less than the area median income, according to J.U.S.T. Pensacola.

The city’s housing department would manage the trust fund. There would be an oversight board that would work with the housing department in formulating policies, approving plans for the use of funds, reviewing applications, and the oversight of expenditures. The city council would approve all grants, loans and contracts related to the fund.

The group summarized some of the stories they’ve heard from struggling residents over the past two years.

“Mothers giving their sons tents to live in when rents increase,” Bennett said. “Children and grandchildren moving back home. First responders sharing rooms and young people leaving Pensacola because they can’t afford to live here.”

The group asked the council to put the trust fund proposal on their next meeting’s agenda in March.

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