Collier County is exploring affordable housing projects

How much do you pay for rent? For your mortgage? And do you consider that amount to be affordable?

Of course that number is different for everyone.

Collier County looked at income and expense data and came up with the following number: $1,350 for a three-person household in a two-bedroom apartment.

That is based on an annual income of about $54,000 and to own a home, you could afford something for $125,000.

They say, rent or mortgage should not exceed 30 percent of your income, but housing that meets those expectations is hard to come by in Collier County.

Amanda Beights lives and works in Collier County and she sees the growing need for affordable housing in her role with the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a problem on Collier County for the past ten plus years and it’s just time that everybody takes their part and does something about it,” she said.

The school district says that up to 20 percent of its employees can’t afford to live in the County where they work. And they aren’t alone.

“We’re hearing a lot of our employers saying that their employees are leaving and their specifically citing the cost of living is outweighing everything else in order for their quality of life to be what it is here in Collier County,” Beights said.

Cormac Giblin, the housing and grant development manager for Collier County says people are surpassing that 30 percent rule.

“Our data shows that there are almost 30,000 households currently living in Collier county who pay more than 50 percent of their monthly income in housing expenses,” Giblin said. “That’s 50 percent of ever check going straight to pay rent and other expenses and those are the folks that we truly need in this community, but that can’t afford to be here.”

Commissioners want to bring more affordable housing to the area by building on county-owned land like the “Bembridge” site, a five-acre property on Santa Barbara Boulevard between Radio Road and Davis Boulevard.

“Many of the solutions are centered on increasing density, reducing red tape,” Giblin said.

The area could fit between 29 and 78 units.

And thanks to the one-cent sales tax that just passed, it’s one of the many solutions to getting the process started.

“It can be easier for the private market to build housing that is affordable here in Collier County,” Giblin said.

County staff will bring developer proposals back to the commission potentially by March.

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