The City of Gainesville was awarded $8 million in funds as part of The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to use for affordable housing.

"We can utilize and leverage those dollars from the federal sources to make sure we provide and build as much affordable housing as possible," Gainesville city commissioner Casey Willits said.

The City of Gainesville's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) shared its most recent quarterly report with city commissioners at today’s meeting.

According to city leaders, during the past few months, HCD has come up with new ways to get families into places they can afford. One of these initiatives will help build five new single-family homes alongside up to ten new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on city-owned property. The ADUs, also known as in-law or mother-in-law units, are separate, smaller structures close by or attached to the main house. They provide more options for housing older family members or younger people just entering the workforce, and contribute to housing diversity in the City.

"We can really get a picture, a snapshot of what we're doing and what kind of spaces to ensure that we have affordable housing for as many people as possible. And whether that's multi-family homes, single family homes, whether it's for people to own or to rent, whether it's about new construction or rehabilitation or just improving the general quality of our housing stock," Willits said.

The City is also partnering with Bright Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity to build ten additional homes that will be placed into the Trust and remain permanently affordable. The $1 million in funding comes from The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

An additional $320,000 from ARPA is helping eligible homeowners make safety and energy improvements to their properties, while another $320,000 goes toward providing low-income buyers with down payment assistance. The $7.2 million ARPA funding for the development of new affordable rental units and single-family or multi-family homes remains the biggest single item to report.

Gainesville resident and realtor Rodney Long says today's meeting was a good first start to the affordable housing conversation, but residents shared concerns about opportunities for local contractors to participate in building these affordable housing projects.

"I think the concerns that I and others have at a local, especially builders and realtors, is of the $7.2 million that are going to be put out now for request for funding, availability is a disadvantage for a lot of the smaller builders, contractors who want to build affordable housing because they don't have the upfront dollars," Long said.

Commissioner Reina Saco says the goal is to create safe and affordable housing for everyone.

"Whether you live on your own or just with a partner, that there is a housing option available to you, that what is within your means that is not going to cost burden you, and that is near everything that you need in order to be not just surviving, but thriving in our city," Saco said.

City leaders are planning townhalls later this year to get the public's input on the affordable housing projects.

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