Residents react to GCRA housing assistance programs in historic communities

Residents react to GCRA housing assistance programs in historic communities
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:26 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - In an effort to keep communities together the Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area (GCRA) is creating multiple housing assistance programs.

The ‘My Neighborhood Program’ from the GCRA would give residents who lived in Cedar Grove II, Duval, Fifth Avenue, North Lincoln Heights, Pleasant Street, Porters, Springhill, and Sugarhill before 2011 a $25,000 forgivable loan towards buying a home in their old communities.

“Well that’s a wonderful thing,” Terri Bailey said.

Bailey has lived in Pleasant Street her whole life and said while $25,000 would help, it’s not enough as she was priced out of a buying opportunity.

Related story: “Help the Black lives over in Porters Quarters,”: Residents plan to paint homes in historically Black Gainesville neighborhood

“We had such a hard time trying to secure property in the area that we’re probably moving,” Bailey said.

Co-founder of the Springhill Neighborhood Watch Vivian Filer likes the idea, but said finding property in Springhill may be a challenge.

“If I were a person who grew up here and moved away three years ago I don’t know where I would come back to,” Filer said.

The GCRA has another opportunity for historically Black communities.

The Heirs’ Property Assistance Program would give free legal assistance to property owners to clear the title to the homes and have property rights.

Dale Harris from Pleasant Street has an heir property and understands the struggle.

“It’s going to help cut down some of the financial headache that most families cannot afford,” Harris said.

They all said it’s important that homes in historically Black neighborhoods like Pleasant Street stay in families that have been here for generations.

“And that way we’ll stabilize our communities and be able to hold on to those properties,” Filer said.

Filer also said, in Springhill, they still struggle with septic tanks and no natural gas lines.

“I don’t want them to rest on their laurels and think they’ve done a great thing because they’ve sent somebody to live back in their neighborhood if they have not worked on improving the neighborhood,” Filer said.

The deadline to apply to the ‘My Neighborhood Program’ is Mar. 31.

The GCRA also has a program coming soon to paint and pressure wash single-family residential homes in Cedar Grove II, Fifth Avenue, Pleasant Street, North Lincoln Heights, Porters, Sugarhill, Springhill, and Greater Duval.

For more information and links to apply to these programs, click here.

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