In the spring of 2022, the Chamber assembled a working group of public and private employers to delve into the complex and critical issue of essential workforce housing. The Chamber defines “essential workforce” as public safety and law enforcement employees; aerospace and healthcare employees; and teachers, without whom St. Johns County would cease to effectively function. Our essential workers’ annual salaries fall somewhere between $45,000 and $65,000/$70,000 and many, if not most of these workers cannot find housing they can afford to either purchase or rent in SJC.
Last summer, the Northeast Florida Builders Association approached the Chamber with a proposal to address parts of this impending housing “crisis” facing SJC. Since then, the Chamber’s Essential Worker Housing Coalition has worked to refine the builder’s proposal to provide housing for our targeted employees. We have commissioned a White Paper designed to provide us with a set of possible solutions including but not limited to county, state, and federal programs, private sector initiatives, and financial lenders’ incentives to give the SJC County Commission options in addressing this serious problem. We have been and will continue to meet with County Commissioners to share our ideas.
The SJC County Commission has scheduled a hearing on the issue for its February 22 meeting. We strongly encourage all Chamber members who have experienced hiring issues due to the lack of affordable workforce housing to show up and tell the Commissioners your story in your own words. The Commissioners need to hear directly from our employers and their employees that affordable housing is critical for a business’s continued success.
Please reach out to Bob Porter, the Chamber’s VP of Public Policy at email@example.com or 202-330-1912 for any questions or additional information.