Collier County seniors feeling the effects of the affordable housing crisis

Published: March 2, 2022 4:21 PM EST
Updated: March 2, 2022 5:38 PM EST

The astronomically high rent prices are forcing seniors are out of their homes. Collier County had the highest rent price increase in the country, and now it’s taking a toll on some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

They see themselves as the forgotten population in the affordable housing crisis. Seniors say they have aged out of the workforce and now can’t afford to live in Collier County.

WINK News asked a senior couple how it felt to learn that they would no longer be able to stay in their home. “Oh my god, when I got that letter that said ‘we will not renew your lease,” said Karen Fauer, who lives in Naples.

The Fauers have lived in Naples for 22 years. Last fall, they received a notice on their apartment door, no lease renewal, but they could upgrade.

The problem is the ‘upgrade’ was pricey, and they couldn’t afford it, so Stephen Fauer went back to work at 74. He is working three days a week, on his feet, greeting customers. “He can’t do it. His mind wants to do it, but his body gives away,” said Karen Fauer.

Suffering from asthma and chronic inflammatory lung disease, Karen couldn’t work. The pair turned to Naples Senior Center for help. “Without the senior center, I think I would be dead. I don’t know where I’ll be,” said Karen. “Be out in the streets,” said Stephen.

The senior center pushed the Fauer’s in the direction of agencies that helped them make ends meet for now. “I have worry. I have a lot of worry in my body and my mind,” Karen said.

The president and CEO of Naples Senior Center, Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, said the Fauers are not alone.”It’s heartbreaking to see, and many of the seniors we work with have been with us for 10 years. These are not people who struggled their whole lives,” said Faffer.

Naples Senior Center’s geriatric case management program is working to connect seniors to the resources and benefits available.

The center is also helping put food on the table. They prepare bags of groceries and deliver hot meals once a week to over 50 households. Center officials are glad they can offer this support in this time of need. They ask the community to continue to advocate for affordable housing.

A recent real estate survey showed that rent soared 38% in Naples in 2021. That’s the highest percentage spike in the nation.