Community fears rent increase as Habitat for Humanity puts up low-income complex for sale

People living in apartments currently owned by Habitat for Humanity are worried that they will no longer be able to afford their rent.

Habitat is selling the low-income complex in North Fort Myers.

Renters got a notice saying they may have to pay more to live there.

“I keep reading the letter over and over and I don’t quite catch it all,” one resident said.

The people at the 55 and older community only have a few months to figure it out.

Many have said they’re at a loss as to what to do next and they’re scared. They’re on fixed incomes, bracing for a spike in their rent.

Dale Topping says the “For Sale” sign blindsided him.

“It was a shock. It just came out of nowhere,” he said.

Topping counted on his Habitat for Humanity home to make ends meet. Now, the 60-unit complex is for sale.

“Everybody that lives here is pretty much very restricted financially because we are all living on social security, as far as I know,” Topping said.

Right now, the people who live here pay $475 a month rent. Topping fears the new owner will spike that and he’ll have to find somewhere else to live. But where?

“There’s a limitation to what I can afford,” he said.

Becky Lucas is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity for Lee and Hendry counties.

She says she understands everyone’s anxiety, but no one’s rent will go up until November.

“They can ensure that they can stay there, even after the units are purchased,” Lucas said.

Gertrude Burdo says her stress level is soaring, no matter what Habitat for Humanity says now.

“I think it’s a lot of pressure for a lot of people in here,” she said.

Another man, who didn’t want to give his name, worries time to find a new place to live won’t make much difference.

“We will see if we find something over that year, but I don’t think there is anything cheaper than this,” he said.

So now, he and Topper and just about everyone must deal with the unknown.

“I’m good here for almost a year with the lease and after that, I don’t know,” he said.

Lucas said Habitat will use the money to develop a larger piece of land and build more affordable housing for up to 600 families.

Habitat says anyone is allowed to apply, including the people who live here.

Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Briana Harvath
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