Collier County is facing an affordable housing crisis as prices climb

Published: January 10, 2022 3:38 PM EST
Updated: January 10, 2022 3:41 PM EST

Rent is up and vacancies are down in Collier County, resulting in an affordable housing crisis. The Collier Housing Committee says people are leaving the county because they can’t afford to live there.

Excluding Immokalee, the median price for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment is $1,660. For a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment, it jumps to $1,995.

That is a lot of money for a lot of families.

The rent numbers come from developers, and county leaders worry some of those numbers are out of date.

What’s not up for debate is that it costs a lot to live in Collier County.

A lot of compromising. That’s how Elizabeth Radi lives. “I do share a bedroom with my 17-year-old son because I have to, in order for us to be able to afford the rent. But each year my rent climbed with between $150 to $175. So I started out at 15 (hundred). And now I am at 19 (hundred).”

Lauren Czarnecka is preparing for her rent to jump even more too.”You have to have internet. We don’t have cable, we don’t pay for extra frivolous things because we want to be conservative with our dollars. But when over 60% of our budget is going strictly to housing, it makes buying groceries and other things just not achievable. You can’t be successful with that.”

This is not a unique story in Collier County. It is almost the norm.

Collier County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee Chair, Joe Trachtenberg, said, “there really is an affordable housing crisis in Collier County, that, that the number of people that are working here and have to live in Cape Coral, or Fort Myers, or out towards Miami-Dade is shocking.”

Collier County affordable housing advisory committee met on Monday and had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment. A new resolve to fix a crisis they all saw coming.

“And as property values continue to grow, the problem is going to keep getting worse. So so we’re really risking losing our essential workers,” said Trachtenberg.

What can be done? Collier County Commissioner Rick Locastro says; a lot.

The first is gathering intel. How many so-called affordable housing units does Collier have and what are people paying for them?

Locastro said, “a few months ago, if you ask that question and said how many units are there, you got a lot of blank stares. So now we’re actually tracking it.”

Commissioner Locastro said Collier County couldn’t wave a magic wand and fix this issue, but the commissioners must do something fast.