More affordable housing coming to Lee County

This article was featured by Fox4. For the original story, click here.

By: Jessica Alpern

FORT MYERS, Fla -- A new community is coming to Fort Myers, and it’s something the city and county hope will help address the shortage of affordable housing in the area. 95 affordable housing units will soon sit near Colonial Blvd. and Winkler Ave. It will help address a much-needed issue in our community.

A recent study by Lee County looks at the hard numbers when it comes to the need for affordable housing. It showed that more than 100,000 households are considered cost burdened when it comes to housing. That means they spend more than 30% of income on housing. The individuals and families impacted include fire fighters, nurses, and teachers.

Another chunk of more than 50,000 households are considered severely cost burdened, and currently spend at least half of their income on housing.

Those numbers are only expected to grow in the next few years, meaning it's getting more and more difficult for working families in Lee County to afford housing. It's why the county and the City of Fort Myers have stepped up to help address this issue. The county has provided a $500,000 loan to make this new affordable housing community possible. The city has provided a break on required parking and other land use variances. $5,000,000 will also come from the state's dedicated affordable housing trust fund. Half of the units will become home to people and families experiencing homelessness in Lee County. According to recent data from the Lee County Homeless Coalition, as of 2018 there were nearly 730 people experiencing homelessness. The numbers also showed there are at least 90 homeless families with children. The future community aims to do more than help put a roof over their heads. An office set up in its clubhouse will be dedicated to providing support services to give residents the tools they need to make a successful transition. This will include things such as job training, transportation and case management.

The groundbreaking ceremony is set to get started at 10:30 a.m.

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