FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new FGCU study confirms what renters or potential renters have been feeling: rental prices in Fort Myers are going up at a fast pace.
In the past year, the study shows Fort Myers had the largest rental price increase in the nation.
"When you look at where we are today we’re just at a little over $2,000, so when you go back a year ago we were under $1,500," said Dr. Shelton Weeks, real estate professor at FGCU.
That's a 32-percent increase, the study says. The problem is that supply is low and demand is up as more people come to Florida. Weeks says there is no quick solution to this problem.
"When you think about addressing this problem, there are solutions, but they’ll take time," he explained.
Who does the responsibility fall on to solve the affordable housing crisis? We asked Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson.
"But it’s not our responsibility to provide housing for people. The responsibility really falls on the individual," Anderson said. "The city nor the county nor the state has control over what you [landlords] charge. Now what we can do and what we are doing is we started the affordable housing trust fund."
It's what Anderson had told us before. Back in 2021, we asked him about housing people following homeless camps moving to Lyons Park.
"There's a lot of people that have a misconception over what the responsibility of government and the government is under no obligation to feed, clothe or house people," Anderson told us back in 2021.
Weeks doesn't agree — he believes solving the housing crisis is a group effort.
"All these different government entities have to work to contribute to the solution," he said. "There’s not going to be one entity that goes out there and solves it for us."
Anderson says they are trying to help where they can.
"Now what we can do and what we are doing is we started the affordable housing trust fund," he explained.
Weeks doesn't see a solution coming quickly, though he says there are things that can be done to make progress over time.
"Both the county and city level trying to make the process for adding inventory more efficient, shortening the time that developers have to wait to expedite things and get them through the system more quickly," Weeks said. "It’s a double-edged sword from a supply and demand side."
Anderson sees a different solution long-term.
"What we need to do is invest more in other younger people to prepare them for the workforce, for employment that pays better," he said.
The mayor says there are about 10,000 units in the pipeline heading to Fort Myers, including projects under construction and others waiting for permits.
"We can and we are doing our best to make sure new permits are issued quickly and projects are moving along, but you still have a supply issue," Anderson said. "There's inventory coming, but it can only come so quick."
So how long will it take to see rental prices level off?
Weeks believes we'll be dealing with the crisis for another year or two.