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Residents can get a new start at life through more affordable housing options in Immokalee

New housing options for residents in Immokalee
Posted at 2:21 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 14:21:13-05

IMMOKALEE, FLA. — Four years ago Hurricane Irma devastated homes and living conditions throughout Immokalee. Fast forward to today with the help of Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance - new housing options are coming for residents there. The groundbreaking ceremony took place today to bring hope and a look at a better life for hard working families.

FOX 4's Elyse Chengery was at the ceremony on Wednesday where an area of rental units will stand soon for the community to help farmworker and other low-income residents.

Gerardo Reyes Chavez who's a resident of Immokalee tells Fox 4's Elyse Chengery, “More than 20 years here in Immokalee working in the fields harvesting tomatoes, oranges, watermelons, working in construction for a little bit too and organizing with coalition of Immokalee workers in the community to improve wages and working conditions.”

Gerardo’s been a part of the Immokalee community for more than 20 years so he knows first hand how the community can benefit from the new residential area. He’s actually joined as a board member of the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance to help give his input for this project that’s underway.

“What this means is a first step in the right direction a step that should have been taken decades ago,” says Chavez.

The area where the groundbreaking ceremony took place will be completely transformed into 128 rental units and the first phase of the project is expected to be complete by December of 2022.

“I’m really excited about standing here for this we’ve been working on it since IFHA was organized 3 years ago to address an obvious, horrible need here and to see the work actually happening on ground and support for the community, agencies and donors makes all the work worth while.,” says Dr. Arol Buntzman the Chairman and CEO of Immokalee Fair Housing.

Dr. Arol Buntzman adds rent will not exceed 30 percent of household income. Stating this allows for safe, affordable and accessible housing. The project is funded solely through donations from supporters and other community members, including several churches. Also Bank of America gave a $100,000 grant.

Chavez, “This is going to start a conversation for a different path. Hopefully with our participation in this people can understand that it is time to do something for Immokalee. I think this is going to help people they are going to have a safe, stable, not expensive option to be with their loved ones and their families and opportunity for the future.”