Essential Housing

Affordable Housing Overview

       In 1992, the Florida State Legislature approved the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act, creating the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) in order to support and expand the availability of affordable housing resources within the State.  In 1993, the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners established the local Affordable Housing Advisory committee, in accordance with Florida Statute, Chapter 420.976, to meet statutory requirements for the planning, implementation, and receipt of affordable housing funds.  For Affordable Housing Information and Definitions see Florida Statute, Chapter 420, Part V and Florida Statute, Chapter 420.503

​For more information on how our SHIP program may be able to assist you see information found below. Funding is available through SHIP for down payment assistance and housing construction and rehabilitation/repairs. Our SHIP administrator can discuss options and eligibility with you.

Scanned committee listSHIP Information

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation administers Florida's State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program. 

SHIP funds are distributed on an entitlement basis to all 67 counties and 52 Community Development Block Grant entitlement cities in Florida. 

SHIP dollars may be used to fund emergency repairs, new construction, rehabilitation, down payment and closing cost assistance, impact fees, construction and gap financing, mortgage buy-downs, acquisition of property for affordable housing, matching dollars for federal housing grants and programs, and homeownership counseling. In Nassau County, our Local Housing Assistance Plan (LHAP) determines the use of our SHIP funds. Currently, we are most active in down payment and closing cost assistance and construction of new housing or rehabilitation of existing housing. 

SHIP Success Stories:

Please contact our Office of Management and Budget to learn more about how Nassau County SHIP funds may be able to assist you. 

Carol Gilchrist, Grants Specialist
Office of Management and Budget
96135 Nassau Place, Suite 2
Yulee, FL 32097-3678
Phone: 904-530-6020 FAX: (904) 321-5917

How to Apply?

Call (904)530-6020 for an appointment.

When are applications accepted?

As funds are available - Contact SHIP office at 904-530-6020 to see if funds are available.

Am I qualified?

Click here to check for income qualification.

How to Participate as a Lender, Contractor, etc.

All Lenders may participate. Contractors must submit their application to the SHIP office for review and approval.

EHAC Flyer

Essential Housing Advisory Committee

The Nassau County Essential Housing Advisory Committee (EHAC) meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 4 p.m. in the Commission Chambers located at 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee, FL 32097.  Meetings are open to the public. The EHAC is a requirement of participating in the state SHIP program, but our EHAC is exploring all issues related to housing in Nassau County, understanding that housing is a complex issue. The committee is looking at a variety of methods for addressing a spectrum of housing issues impacting our residents.

​On May 15, 2019, the members of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee elected to rename the Committee the "Essential Housing Advisory Committee," in recognition that their work encompasses a spectrum of housing issues and directly relates to the essential nature of housing in providing for residents' health and well-being.

​​Latest EHAC Resources and Topics of Discussion
Picture Showing Household Changes in America

Who needs affordable housing?

According to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development: “Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.”  For more, check out their website. 

Did you know...

​Multigenerational households have reached record levels according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. Around 64 million Americans, or 20 percent of the population, were living in homes with grandparents, grandchildren, or two or more adult generations in 2016. The trend has seen an uptick since 1980, Pew says, with a three percent increase since 2009, the last year of the recession.
Source: American Planning Association ​

​​​Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome.  ​
​Feedback can be given to the Planning Department by:
​​Phone - (904)530-6320
Digital Comment Card

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Quick Facts - Accessory Dwellings

The Nassau County Land Development Code was updated on February 25, 2019 to allow accessory dwellings. Below are some helpful quick facts regarding the changes or you can view the updated accessory dwelling ordinance in its entirety here.

Accessory Dwellings:

  • Are permitted by right in all residentially zoned districts that permit single-family dwellings.
  • May not be larger than 50% of the sqft of the single-family structure (not including garage space). The total footprint shall not exceed 800 sqft.
  • Are subject to building permit requirements as established by the FL Building Code.
  • Shall not be sold as a separate piece of property.
  • May be used for rental property when primary structure carries active homestead exemption.
  • Are subject to impact fees.
  • Shall connect to public water and sewer connections, when available. If no connection is available, well and septic systems must be in compliance with DOH regulations.
  • Shall not be RV's, mobile homes, or storage sheds.
  • Check out LDC Section 28.15(K)(4) for Design Standards.


Accessory Dwellings Flyer

Affordable Housing Incentives

AHAC Incentives Report

Affordable Housing Incentives Subcommittee Meetings

Community Outreach

On July 18, 2018, Bill Lazar with the St. Johns Housing Partnership was the speaker at our regular AHAC meeting, and also speaker for a community outreach event that evening hosted in partnership with the City of Fernandina Beach. We appreciate Mr. Lazar for being the first in our Housing Speaker Series, and learning about programs and policies in place in St. Johns that we could look at implementing in Nassau County. View Mr. Lazar's presentation.


JALA FlyerOn September 19, 2018, Carol Miller with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid spoke as part of our continuing speaker series on legal issues affecting home ownership including heirs property, homestead exemption and title issues, and reverse mortgages. For more information on how Jacksonville Area Legal Aid may be able to assist you, contact (904) 356-8371. View Ms. Miller's presentation


On December 10, 2018, Gladys Cook and Kimberly Spence of the Florida Housing Coalition presented information about establishing a Community Land Trust (CLT) in Nassau County.  View the Florida Housing Coalition presentation for contact information and to learn more about Community Land Trusts.Dec. 10 CLT workshop flyer 

County Housing Assessment

Nassau County and the City of Fernandina Beach partnered to have the University of Florida's Shimberg Center for Housing Studies complete a housing assessment for our community. The final draft will be presented to the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee at their December 19, 2018 meeting. 

Essential Housing Resources


AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age. AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities, and rural areas to be great places for people of all ages. The organization believes that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life. Check out AARP HomeFit Downloads and Worksheets.

Affordable Housing Online

Affordable Housing Online provides information about housing assistance, low income apartments, and other affordable housing opportunities. They offer information on individual apartment communities that receive Federal housing funding. To locate affordable (rental) housing communities, please use the link above and search by city.

Barnabas Nassau

Barnabas Nassau is a comprehensive service center that helps neighbors in crisis so they can become healthy, productive citizens. Through their partnerships, they reach more people and maximize resources. They address critical issues facing the community, such as hunger affordable health care, and prevention of homelessness. The organization's mission is to provide assistance to individuals and families in crisis throughout Nassau County, FL.

Fernandina Beach Housing Authority

The Fernandina Beach Housing Authority is a Section 8 and Public Housing Agency. Contact Information: 1300 Hickory Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.Phone - (904) 261-5051

Florida Housing Coalition

The Florida Housing Coalition, Inc., is a nonprofit, statewide membership organization whose mission is to bring together housing advocates and resources so that all Floridians have a quality affordable home and suitable living environment. The Coalition recognizes that affordable housing is an integral part of community revitalization and economic development. It provides professional consultation services through training and technical assistance on affordable housing and related issues; supports community-based partnerships in leveraging resources; and advocates for policies, programs and use of funding resources that maximize the availability and improve the quality of affordable housing in Florida.

Nassau Habitat for Humanity

Nassau Habitat for Humanity (N.H.F.H.) is a local volunteer organization. It is run by a local board of directors who raise funds; select families, building sites and house plans; supervise construction and administer the mortgages. N.H.F.H. began in 1993. In 2016, Nassau Habitat completed its 40th home. Homes are built for families meeting requirements outlined by the organization. Donations and volunteer labor finance construction. The homes are sold at cost to qualified families through an interest free mortgage issued by N.H.F.H.

SHIP - Affordable Housing Program

Nassau County's SHIP division coordinates the administration of the County's affordable housing program to ensure optimal citizen participation, program efficiency, and effectiveness pursuant to federal, state, and local housing policies, procedures, and regulations. The SHIP program provides affordable housing assistance to very low-, low-, and moderate- income families who meet all of the requirements listed on the website. Applications are only available when funding is available. Please use the link above for program contact information.

UF Shimberg Center for Housing Studies

The Shimberg Center facilitates the provision of safe, decent, and affordable housing and related community development throughout the state of Florida. The Center conducts research into housing policy and planning, with a special focus on housing affordability for Florida residents. Their current research focuses on documenting housing market conditions and affordable housing in Florida's counties, cities and neighborhoods; preserving Florida's affordable rental housing; linking affordable housing with land use and transportation through GIS modeling; and supporting the development of energy efficient and healthy homes.