Affordable housing crisis looking for help from Collier County officials

Published: June 7, 2022 4:54 PM EDT
Updated: June 7, 2022 5:51 PM EDT

People struggling financially in Southwest Florida may see help from a project in the works to assist with the affordable housing crisis.

Collier County Commissioners and the city of Naples Council discussed the issue on Tuesday.

They know that too many people in Collier County and in the city are struggling to make ends meet. While officials keep pushing for more assistance programs and buying time until more buildings can go up.

Collier County and the city of Naples share common problems with traffic resources and the lack of affordable housing.

Penny Taylor, a Collier County Commissioner said, “we’re in a crisis, there’s no question. Affordable housing has morphed into the rental crisis and at this point, the state is not helping at all with this.”

Commissioners and council members believe they also share a responsibility to find solutions.

City of Naples Council member Raymond Christman said, “I think there’s more we can do in the city but I think there’s some practical limits because of the geography.”

During Tuesday’s joint workshop the county and city talked about four affordable housing projects in the works.

Allura, a Naples apartment complex, shows that out of 350 units, 55 are for the workforce and 31 are for people making about 47 thousand or less. But, the average rent for an affordable one-bedroom is more than $1,4000, and none are available.

Joe Trachtenberg is the Chairman of Collier County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. He said, “let’s not confuse this as solving the affordable housing crisis, this is going to provide relief for people that are in deep pain but it does nothing in terms of helping us where we ultimately need to be.”

He believes the rental assistance programs are only a stop-gap solution. The program’s already handed out $5.8M in assistance. But the truth is, people are still struggling.

Another challenge is many people already living here don’t want development.

Joe Trachtenberg is Chairman of Collier County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. “We’re sympathetic to citizens but we ask them to understand that if we add affordable housing in this county,” Trachtenberg said. “We’re going to come to a halt in terms of our ability to provide just basic services.”

Habitat for Humanity is stepping up by trying to help people own their own homes.

Lead advocate for Habitat for Humanity, John Harney said, “that has historically been the greatest way American families build family wealth.” And now Harney with Habitat for Humanity said the organization is working on building townhomes and apartments.

Right now, the county’s median income is more than $98K and most of the essential workforce doesn’t make that kind of money.