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New 95-apartment affordable housing development breaks ground in Fort Myers

Posted at 7:37 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 14:59:25-05

FORT MYERS — Starting Wednesday, crews will be building a new facility with 95 apartments in Fort Myers.

It’s called Cypress Village, and it's part of an effort to address homelessness in the city. The apartment building is going to be the first of its kind in Fort Myers, and that’s mainly because it will include on-site services to help people find jobs or get counseling or treatment. That’s a big change with how things have been done in the past.

The developer, Blue Sky Communities, expects it will take 14 months to build.

“I can’t wait 14 months from now to have the grand opening for the people that will live here," said Fort Myers City Council Member Gaile Anthony.

The project is at the corner of Colonial Blvd. and Winkler Ave., right in Anthony’s ward. She’s excited because it will mean more low-income workers can actually live in the city.

“Out of 1,000 employees that work for our city, only 150 live in the city of Fort Myers, and I don’t like that," said Anthony.

But people were also celebrating because the project offers a brand new approach to addressing homelessness. Shawn Wilson, with Blue Sky Communities, said the building will have on-site services.

“We have a non-profit partner called CASL. They’re going to have an office in the clubhouse and they’re going to have case management folks there that are going to help make sure that our residents have a successful transition from homelessness into permanent, independent housing," said Wilson.

Last month, Fox 4 published a story investigating how CASL currently deals with homelessness. Instead of one building, right now it owns individual houses in neighborhoods all over Lee County, and even with case managers stopping by, there are concerns the people living there may not be getting all the services they need. Anthony said she’s excited to add another type of solution.

“A lot of people that are homeless have a substance abuse issue, and even if you find housing for them, you haven’t corrected that... It’s not just housing, it’s total case management of these individuals to help them with life," said Anthony.

After getting Cypress Village approved within 10 months, Wilson said this may be just the start of his work in Fort Myers.

“This is Blue Sky’s first venture into Lee County in the City of Fort Myers, but based on the experience we have so far, we’ll be back," said Wilson.

The building will actually be Blue Sky’s fourth affordable housing facility in Florida. It has another one planning to open this month in Sarasota.