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WILL IT HELP? City of Fort Myers hopes if they build it, homebuyers will come

On Friday, the City of Fort Myers broke ground on something it doesn't normally build — a single-family home.
Posted at 5:23 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 17:23:00-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Friday, the City of Fort Myers broke ground on something it doesn't normally build — a single-family home.

FOX 4's Senior Reporter Kaitlin Knapp was there as the first turns of dirt began as part of a new program where Fort Myers takes city-owned plots and turns them into affordable single-family homes.

Groundbreaking City of Fort Myers Ft Myers
On Friday, May 10, Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson cuts a ribbon on a groundbreaking for a single-family home the city is building to help create more affordable housing in the area.

"Maybe we can at least put a dent in this problem," said Mayor Kevin Anderson, who touted the program as a different way to address Southwest Florida's ongoing lack of affordable housing.

"The idea is we will have this home constructed. Once it's constructed we will turn around, sell it at cost that we build it for," said Steve Belden, Community Development Director for Fort Myers.

The cost for this first home is about $245,000. The money comes from the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund approved in 2022.

city of fort myers ft myers affordable housing
Here's a look at the city-owned land where a home will be built, using the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. When the home is sold, the money goes back into the fund, so another home can be built on city land.

"People will be able to apply. It will be based on income, but they'll have to get themselves a mortgage," said Mayor Anderson.

The catch is they are not allowed to re-sell the home, under the terms from the city. You are not required to be a Fort Myers resident, but city residents will have priority.

"We expect to have a long, long waiting list and we will move as quickly as we can to get these houses constructed and up for sale," Anderson said.

We first told you about this program back in January 2023, where, at that point, the Mayor was expecting to break ground by March.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: City of Fort Myers plans to build affordable single-family homes on vacant lots

Fox 4 asked why it took so long.

"It's a process doing the bids, get the requests of qualifications and proposals, finding the right contractor," said Mayor Anderson.

The contractor of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes is Hard Hats Construction. They are expected to work on 10 vacant lots across the city, with many along C Street and Delaware Avenue. The hope is to do six a year.

The city obtained the lots from either buying them, code enforcement or a donation.

The goal is to have the house done in about four months, sell it and then start on another home.

"There's a good chance over the next couple of years we could have as many as 50 lots," Anderson said.

You are unable to apply right now, but it's expected to be open soon.