More affordable housing is now available in St. Johns County, but it might not be for long. Today, county leaders held a ribbon cutting for the Victoria Crossing apartments in St. Augustine to meet what it calls a need for low-cost housing.
Developers for the complex say the $29-million complex has 96 units, some of which are as cheap as $375 per month. Victoria Crossing officials tell me people started moving into the complex at the start of September. Now, I’m told, only 20 of the 96 units are left. Victoria Crossing officials expect the rest of the units to be taken before the start of November.
The quick grab for the affordable, income-based units, and others like them around the county, is fueling fears of a growing need for housing in St. Johns.
“It’s a problem, it’s a deep problem,” Robert Nimmons, the chairman of the West Augustine CRA Committee, said. The committee advocates for affordable housing around the county, and Nimmons worries the apartment complex won’t make a dent in the demand.
“The county as a whole is in a desperate need for affordable housing,” Nimmons said.
The new complex comes at a time of high housing costs in the county. Some estimates are putting average rent for an apartment in St. Augustine as high as $1,629 per month. The units at Victoria Crossing are much cheaper, with three-bedroom units only costing as much as $1,180 per month, which sparked the speedy pace at which they were sold.
The complex is one of about 80 other housing developments either proposed or underway in St. Johns, according to the county’s development tracker. The county says it’s part of an effort to keep up with its growth.
“We’re working with a delicate balance of finding necessary growth and also filling the needs of our affordable housing, which is really, really high here,” St. Johns County Commissioner Roy Alaimo said.
But as more people move in, county leaders say rising living costs around the county are pushing locals out, especially people like teachers and first responders.
“We need affordable housing in St. Johns County and this is a big step in that direction,” Alaimo said.
Nimmons says it’s a step not nearly big enough.
“We need about three more Victoria Crossings,” Nimmons said, “That’s how bad it is.”
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The county says it’s hoping to open more affordable housing in the near future, but county officials say there aren’t any specific projects ready to be announced right now.