NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodImmokalee


AFFORDABLE HOUSING? Groundbreaking new development in Immokalee may be an answer

Habitat for Humanity is building their largest subdivision in the nation in northern Collier County.
Posted at 10:01 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 22:06:26-04

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Collier County Habitat for Humanity is building their largest subdivision in the nation in Immokalee. More than 15 families live in Kaicasa and when the neighborhood is complete 300 families will call it home. Habitat bought the 110 acre property in 2004 and started construction in 2022.

Kai means home in Creole. Casa is home in Spanish, and Immokalee means my home in the Seminole language representing important cultures in Immokalee.

It's also where Alyssa Gonzalez calls home.

"I have a house to pay. Some people don't have that. I have light to pay. I have water to do all these things, and it's amazing," Gonzalez told Immokalee's Community Correspondent Ella Rhoades.

Gonzalez said she grew up in Immokalee. Her husband and three children lived with her parents until her husband passed away.

Gonzalez says, "I can't live in that sadness. I have to go forward for myself and for the kids."

But try as she might, she couldn't find an affordable option in town for her family.

"It's great for Immokalee. A community of farm workers there is a lot of help, but like for the ones in between, I don't make too much. I don't make less. I'm in that in between," she says.

She applied for a home in Kaicasa and that's where she met Collier County Habitat CEO Lisa Lefkow.

Lefkow says this program is for families searching for that home like Gonzalez.

Lefkow says, "That home ownership will lead to equity and generational wealth and truly break the cycle of poverty."

She adds access to affordable housing in the area hasn't changed much in 40 years.

"Our service industry, our agricultural workers could primarily find access to housing affordability here in Immokalee, but it also meant the housing stock was very poor quality and that has not changed," Lefkow says.

She says the county's missing 10,000 affordable units and 2,000 more each year.

Homes in Kaicasa have three to four bedrooms, 2 baths and a garage. It'll take 6 to 8 years to finish Kaicasa.

"The house is mine. It's good to call something mine," Gonzalez said.