More affordable housing could be coming to Collier County

There’s a push to create affordable housing in an area of Southwest Florida that is known to be pricey.

Hundreds of new apartments could be coming to Collier County very soon. Some of those units will be set aside for teachers and first responders. But, the question from many is if these units will actually be affordable for the county’s public servants.

A mother and her newborn are currently sleeping at St. Matthew’s House Campbell Lodge Homeless Shelter tonight. And, 18 individual mothers with children on the waitlist.

Ray Steadman is the Vice President of programs for St. Matthew’s House and says too many families struggle to find an affordable place to live in Collier County. “It’s almost impossible. The rents are going up significantly faster than income and so that leaves people to share housing,” Steadman said.

Heather Mazurkiewicz with the North Collier Fire Rescue District says housing is a problem for firefighters as well. “Especially the younger firefighters right when they first start out, and not being able to afford a place in the community that… that they serve,” Mazurkiewicz said.

Collier County says its scrambling to build more affordable housing like the proposed project for the Blue Coral Apartments. This would bring 70 affordable units to North Naples, near the intersection of Immokalee Road and Livingston Road.

A portion of those suits will go to teachers, firefighters or other “essential services personnel.” Collier County is working on another project to make 82 of the units available to the lowest income renters.

Jacob LaRow with Collier County Affordable Housing says even that isn’t nearly enough. “How do you address affordable housing when the demand is not playing ball with how long it takes to bring these units online?” LaRow said.

In other words, demand for affordable housing in Collier County is absolutely outpacing supply.

Right now, rent at Blue Coral Apartments is projected to cost around $1,500 per month for a family of three making $60K per year. A family of three making $37K per year could get a two-bedroom apartment for $1,000 per month.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Drew Hill
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