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Affordable housing key issue for Fort Myers' upcoming budget

Posted at 5:15 AM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 05:15:25-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.  — The Fort Myers City Council is set to vote and approve the upcoming budget for the next fiscal year.

Back in February, the council started the work to create an "affordable housing trust fund," which is part of the budget the council has been having discussions about.

This upcoming Thursday, people can also give their thoughts on the budget for the first public hearing workshop.

"I live in my car," said Donald Wyckoff. "Rent is really kind of high for what you get."

Wyckoff is a homeless Navy veteran who has lived in Fort Myers for seven years—and he isn't the only one who feels this way.

"In the area, I stay, I think it's a little excessive, especially with the economy," said James McIntosh.

A May 2022 study from Florida Atlantic University showed that Fort Myers homebuyers were paying a 56% premium, and renters were also paying more for a place.

Now, the city of Fort Myers is working to add the city's affordable housing trust fund to ease the burden. Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said there is a layered plan, starting with rent subsidies.

“So basically looking and saying your housing cost should not be more than 30 percent of your income,” Mayor Anderson said.

If the housing cost is more than 30 percent, the city is considering using the trust fund to subsidize the difference — but that's not all.

"[There would also be] help with housing down payment [and] home ownership," said Mayor Anderson. "We have about a 50 percent home ownership rate in the city."

The mayor said the city wants to ensure it's affordable for the people who live here and the people who keep the city running.

“Our nurses, our teachers, our police officers, our firefighters, and our first responders, making sure that they can afford to live in the city," he said.

The budget has not been voted on or approved. Thursday, Sept. 8, there will be a public hearing and the community can voice their concerns. The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:15 pm.