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MAKING LEHIGH AFFORDABLE: Habitat for Humanity has plans for 2024

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 05, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — Two years ago, Lakisha and her daughters left Fort Myers for Lehigh Acres in search for a more affordable home.

"I was kind of forced to this area," she says. "I really didn't want to come to this area, but at the time, this was the only area that had openings."

Lakisha and her kids fell in love with Lehigh, but then rent prices went up again. Lakisa says she now spends at least 50% of her income on housing.

"Due to the pricing of the economy and how rent is, that's what pushed me to partnering with Habitat," Lakisha said.

75% of Habitat's families are female headed households like Lakisha. She said she started her home application process more than a year ago.

Lakisha chose to do her build with Habitat in Lehigh. [I wanted] "to have my own yard and my own area my own space and something that i can call mine," she said.

Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties Communications Director Cece Schepp said affordable housing is a significant concern.

"One of the most significant issues that our area is really Lehigh Acres...people are really struggling whether they're renting or trying to purchase a home qualifying for a conventional mortgage is a huge challenge," Schepp said.

As more people move to Lehigh Acres, the challenge grows.

"Families want to live in this area because it's close to school to work their children have roots already planted here...families are excited to purchase a home where they know they're going to have stability."

The door Lakisha will open this summer to her home, opens new possibilities for her family too.

"It's going to open a lot of doors for things I wasn't able to do," she says.

When Lakisha signs on the dotted line, she'll buy her home at 30% or less of her income, and while still working full time and raising her kids, Lakisha will complete 300 hours of work on her home by the time she moves in.