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The city of Jacksonville recently held the first of two public meetings on the five-year community development plan it must submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue to receive federal funds through the agency’s programs.

Jacksonville is taking 30 days of public comment, ending Aug. 9, before submitting the 2021-2025 Consolidated Plan for approval by the City Council and then to HUD by the Aug. 15 deadline.

Residents can weigh in on the city’s 201-page draft plan or provide broad feedback on how the city should prioritize spending by taking a survey on the city’s website, sending an email or going to the second public meeting next month.

The survey asks for thoughts on six areas: affordable housing; demolition and clearance; economic development; public improvements; public facilities; and public services.

At the first public hearing Friday — a virtual meeting that was posted on the city’s website just one day earlier — Jacksonville officials said expanding public infrastructure and improving access to public facilities are the top priorities in the draft Consolidated Plan.

One of three commenters to attend the meeting, LaToshia Hall, is a local Realtor and member of the Jacksonville branch of the NAACP. She told officials that affordable housing — a top five priority in the city’s draft — is her No. 1 concern.

“Right now we all know that there is a huge housing shortage throughout the city of Jacksonville and, more or less, when it comes to affordable houses, most homes now are priced well out of the reach of your typical first-time buyer,” Hall said.

“How do we partner with the city so that we can build these affordable houses and then also educate the community and bring more awareness to homeownership?” she asked.

Erich Chatham, head of the community development consulting firm Civitas, which helps Jacksonville craft its HUD applications, told Hall the H2H program offered by the city, along with Community Development Block Grants offered by HUD, are resources to help deal with the lack of affordable housing.

The city will hold a second and final public hearing, in person, at the Legends Center at 5130 Soutel Dr. on the Northside at 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 2.

Article originally published at by Raymon Troncoso. Raymon can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RayTroncoso.