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Finding more homes in Immokalee

Push to get more affordable housing, especially where families with low incomes live, is the constant goal
Posted at 7:37 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 19:37:41-05

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — In a few months, several families in Immokalee will get to call a new apartment home. The Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance is building 128 affordable housing units off Lake Trafford Road.

IFHA CEO Dr. Arol Buntzman is working on a solution for affordable housing in the area.

Buntzmand said, "Farm worker families and other low-income families have little but no choice but to rent trailers and shacks that are 60 or 70 years old that are filled with mold and mildew and cockroach dust and holes."

The ten acres will have eight, two-story multifamily buildings including two and three bedrooms floor plans. The buildings are hurricane resistant as well.

Tom Felke is professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and sits on the Collier County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

He said the higher cost of living creates a drift which pulls then pushes people to and from Immokalee.

Felke said, "Why were are seeing less vacancy in Immokalee is because we are seeing a little bit of drift. Individuals who cannot afford to be in the Naples, North Naples, even the Golden Gate Estate areas."

He said IFHA is a small part of the solution.

"We are fortunate to have non-profit organizations that are looking specifically at the population that ordinarily would be pushed out to ensure that doesn't occur and that they still have viable housing options," Felke added.

Buntzman said he believes there needs to be at least a 1,000 more of these units in Immokalee.

The money for the project comes from grants and donors, not the government, which means the only documentation they need from applicants is what they show employers.

Buntzman said, "That enables us to serve probably 30% of the population in Immokalee that can't, otherwise, be helped. The people that need it the most."

The first 16 units will be finished in June and IFHA said it'll start taking rental applications by the middle of February.