Low-income seniors in Fort Myers apartments must move out

Low-income seniors living in the Royal Palm Towers are getting forced to move from their waterfront homes so the building can have renovations.

Some are ready to go, saying the place is run down and full of safety hazards. Others say they will not be able to afford it once they return.

Robert Bennett has lived in the Royal Palm Towers for more than two years. The apartments are a part of the public housing program offered to low-income seniors by the Fort Myers Housing Authority. Bennett said he loves the waterfront view.

“I enjoy living here more than any place I think I’ve ever lived,” Bennett said. “Outside my window, I can watch the sunset. I can look over the water and see the boats and marina.”

But, he and all his Royal Palm Towers neighbors will soon move to a new location. The location has a view of U.S. 41, which makes some nervous.

“I do have concerns for my community because a lot of them are elderly and not mobile,” said Frank Cerbone, a tenant at Royal Palm Towers. “I don’t know how they’re going to make it across to the nearest convenience store.”

The housing authority said the current downtown location needs significant repairs and upgrades. Doug Hogg, who has lived at the Royal Palm Towers for 20 years and served as a commissioner for the housing authority, calls the move a necessary one.

“Housing and maintenance, they try to keep the building up,” Hogg said. “But right now, all they can do is put a band-aid on it until we can get somewhere else to stay.”

The new building is projected to cost $22.6 million. The housing authority said they are in the first stages of the project. It hopes to complete construction of the new building in two years.

The new building will feature renovated rooms, be closer to the hospital and is still low cost. Representatives from the housing authority told WINK News it would incorporate suggestions from those who live in the Royal Palm Towers into the plan for the building.

“I’m prepared to pay some more than I am now,” Cerbone said, “if I have to.”

Reporter:Breana Ross
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