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Jacksonville housing discrimination settlement legislation stalls in council

Thus far, there’s been slow progress on Jacksonville City Council bills (2017-68 and 2017-69) that may close the book on an issue that first emerged during the Alvin Brown administration.

To recap: in 2014, Ability Housing set out to renovate an apartment building in Springfield to create 12 units of housing for the chronically homeless and disabled.

The planning director balked, likening the proposed use to that of an assisted living facility. Soon thereafter, the Department of Justice, Disability Florida, and Ability Housing sued.

The proposed settlement ensures that the city not discriminate via zoning against those with disabilities, including via so-called zoning “overlays” such as Springfield and other neighborhoods have, and allows Ability Housing to become eligible for Jacksonville Journey funding again.

Ability Housing and Disability Rights Florida would receive $400,000 and $25,000 respectively per the settlement. Jacksonville also would be required to grant $1.5 million for the development of permanent supportive housing for people with disabilities, after a competitive grant process including Ability Housing.

While the bills cleared one committee, Neighborhoods, Community Investments, and Services, Land Use and Zoning and Finance subsequently deferred.

Further discussion of the settlement and the Springfield Overlay, the original justification for denying permission to Ability Housing in the first place, will happen in future committee meetings.

Finance and Land Use and Zoning will both have to approve these settlement bills before they are ready for the full council.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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