New affordable housing in Immokalee is giving new hope for lower-income residents who have previously only lived in mobile homes or apartments.
A new neighborhood, Hatchers Preserve, located on the west side of the farm-working community, was dedicated Monday.
"It's unbelievable," said 16-year-old Cesar Cumes, who lives in one of the new homes with his parents and three siblings. He said that six months ago, they were living in a mobile home for $850 a month. Now, his parents pay $650 for a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house.
"Other houses are old and they charge so much," Cesar said. "These are brand-new houses, and for a low price. That's pretty nice."
The 18 homes in Hatchers Preserve were built thanks to grants obtained by Rural Neighborhoods, a nonprofit that rents about 1,500 homes in South Florida.
U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart was on hand for the community's dedication ceremony Monday, and said he was impressed with what Rural Neighborhoods managed to do with the help from federal funding.
"This is not Washington dictating where or what to do," Diaz-Balart said. "These are the communities getting together with a number of different organizations...with some federal help to build this place."
"I think it's definitely the next chapter into what Immokalee is going to become," said Hatchers Preserve resident Abel Flores. He said that he and his family have never had a quality, affordable house until now, and he hopes his new neighborhood represents the future of what Immokalee could look like some day.
"Immokalee's trying to become a city, and I think this is definitely a good jump start to creating an opportunity for young families such as ourselves," Flores said.