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Gainesville Affordable Housing Due for Expansion

The+Harrison+Square+Apartments+have+been+standing+for+over+50+years.+
Gainesville Housing Authority
The Harrison Square Apartments have been standing for over 50 years.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Gainesville City Council advanced with plans to build more affordable housing close to the location of the Harrison Square Apartments, which have been standing more than 50 years.

The Gainesville City Council approved the proposal, allowing for the annexation and R-2 rezoning of two acres of undeveloped land. In collaboration with Gainesville’s Housing Authority, developers Soho Housing Partners and The Paces Foundation are currently taking steps toward erecting a new 120-unit complex on what might total 17 acres next to the existing facility along Harrison Drive.

The apartments will have one to four bedrooms and be designed to accommodate families earning less than 80% of the local median income.

Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon said that he fully acknowledges the issue of affordable housing.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out how we can better position ourselves to help those people with affordable housing. If we can increase those units, then that’s good. And if we can make them into brand new units, that’s even better.” – Sam Couvillon, Gainesville Mayor

According to Couvillon, the city will keep up its efforts to close the gap between the working class and the rest of the country due to the continuous lack of financially accessible housing in Gainesville and much of the country. He acknowledged that the Housing Authority of Gainesville was mostly responsible for making that happen.

“They are the ones that really deserve the credit for doing that,” he said. “We’re meeting all the time on how we can add more to the inventory. It’s an issue that a lot of communities are struggling with.”

Peggy Kemp, a resident of the Harrison Square complex, said that she would love the smell of a new apartment.

“People have smoked and everything else in these old apartments. You’re never going to get rid of the smoke smell out of these brick walls.” – Peggy Kemp, Harrison Square Apartments Resident

Beth Brown, CEO of the Gainesville Housing authority, said that complaints have continually been heard about faulty utilities within the old complex. “We’re starting to see some needs that we don’t see resolving themselves. Building new seems to be the thing that makes the most sense.”

The construction for the new apartments is expected to be completed within the next two years, according to Brown. Luckily for Kemp and other current Harrison Square tenants, moving into the newly built complex at will come at no cost.

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Chaz Mullis, Staff Editor
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