NAPLES, Fla. — Collier County is working to provide more help to working class people who say they just can’t afford to live there any more.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Collier County commissioners voted to provide more money for the local housing trust fund. The exact amount is still being determined.
The commissioners also voted to look for land to buy for affordable housing using the 20 million dollars raised from the One-Cent Surtax that voters passed in 2018.
The moves came after nearly 30 people spoke at the meeting for more than two hours, imploring the commissioners to provide more options for the working class.
“I work every day and I make good money. It’s just not feasible,” said Savannah Larue, a 32-year-old single mother. “You need almost $100,000 to get a one-bedroom here. Rent is almost $3,000 for a one-bedroom. That’s just barbaric.”
Savannah Larue is a 32-year-old single mother. And even though she works full-time as a hairdresser, she said she can’t afford an apartment large enough for both her and her daughter.
According to numbers provided by the county, those increases have caused a crisis in Collier. The county’s study shows there are only 54 houses available to buy and merely *one* rental property available that meet the government’s definition of affordable.
Larue said she lives in a studio apartment that’s so small, her daughter has to stay with Larue’s mother.
“My mom takes very good care of her, but she is my daughter and needs to be with me,” Larue said. “But there’s nothing affordable. The rents have just skyrocketed.”
Currently there are 11 affordable housing communities in development in Collier county, which would provide more than 3,000 living units. However, only four of those communities are scheduled to be completed in the next two years.
Another speaker was Jackie Keay, a veteran and advocate who is working with local tenants to form a union to fight rent hikes.
“So many essential workers — whether its law enforcement, teacher, nurses — can’t afford to live in the community and work in the community,” Keay said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Joe Trachtenberg, the chairman of the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, said it was a step in the right direction.
“This was a painful day in terms listening all problems, but a glorious day in terms of the commissioners recognizing they’ve got work to do and more importantly that they’re going to do it,” Trachtenberg said.