Construction for a new affordable housing complex just north of Port St. Joe could begin as soon as this fall, according to County Administrator Michael Hammond at the Board of County Commissioners’ most recent meeting.
The project, a collaboration with the St. Joe Company, which the county set aside $500,000 of Covid-19 recovery money for, has been in discussions for several years.
“Just a quick update on those affordable rentals, as we’ve discussed, we’re still looking towards the fall to break ground on that project,” Hammond said at the June 28 meeting. “That’ll be just north of the city, Port St. Joe, here.”
Rates for the complex’s proposed 50-60 rental units will be capped for Gulf County citizens and indexed for 10 years.
“(The county engineer) and I met with the St. Joe Company about two weeks ago, and I think they’ve got a contractor,” Hammond told the board of county commissioners at their April 26 meeting. It’s going to be duplex-type deals just north of the City of Port St. Joe on Highway 71, and they will certainly be in the range that teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs can afford.”
Hammond was careful to point out that the project will be considered affordable housing and not low-income housing, signaling that there will not be income qualifications required to apply.
Affordable housing is one of the area’s most discussed needs, with housing prices on the rise and a large number of vacancies in positions in fields such as education and law enforcement.
Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison has been trying to recruit new hires for four vacancies within his department since the beginning of the year. “But it’s hard to convince someone to move somewhere where they can’t afford to live,” he said at the Gulf County Coastal Communities Association on June 25.
The City of Port St. Joe also has an affordable housing project in the works, having selected Oikos Development Corporation out of Kansas City for the project in November, 2021.
According to City Manager Jim Anderson, the project is “moving forward,” though not many more details are available at this time.
“Our agreement with the Oikos company that we’re working with for our affordable housing behind public works is still ongoing,” Buzzett said at the city’s June 21 meeting. “I ask (the city manager) about it occasionally, and they do have meetings and so forth, so it’s not a dead issue.”
More details about the housing projects are expected to be raised in upcoming county and city meetings.