With a shortage of available homes and prices spiking up dramatically, Jacksonville is the midst of a full-blown housing crisis.

All across Florida, housing prices are spiking at crisis levels. According to a February 2022 report by Realtor.com, the Jacksonville has seen the country’s eighth-highest rent increase, with Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and the Tampa Bay area taking the top three spots. The housing crisis has led CBS News to declare Florida the least affordable state in the U.S.

Locally, the housing crisis presents challenges and potential solutions from different perspectives.

On Wednesday, April 26, APA Florida First Coast Section will facilitate a public discussion focusing on housing issues facing the region at LaVilla’s historic Masonic Temple building.

The historic Masonic Temple

Completed in 1916, the Masonic Temple has served as the focal point for Jacksonville’s Black community’s commercial and fraternal activities for decades. Anchoring LaVilla’s Broad Street, an original version of the six story building designed by John Anderson Lankford. Lankford also served as the consulting architect for Victor E. Mark and Leeroy Sheftall, to produce the final building design characterized as a mix of “Prairie” and “Chicago” School architectural styles.

Described as one of the finest buildings in the world owned by the Black community, throughout Jacksonville’s history, the Masonic Temple was instrumental in the development of the local Black middle class community, Civil Rights and the Chitlin Circuit. Still owned and operated by The Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge, Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliation, Florida and Belize, Central America Jurisdiction, Incorporated, the building was designated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Jerry Urso, the Grand Historian of the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of Florida, will also share the history of the Masonic Temple and individuals associated with the space that were instrumental to the development of Florida and the nation.

Tickets are free and can be reserved on Eventbrite.

The event will be held at the Masonic Temple on Wednesday, April 26 between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The historic Masonic Temple is located at 410 Broad Street. On-street parking is available.