Affordable Housing Crisis in Collier County

We must apply the necessary pressure to build more affordable housing in Collier County, before it’s too late.

Joe Trachtenberg

by Joe Trachtenberg,
Chairman of Collier County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee

Naples is among the most desirable places to live. Most of us who grew up elsewhere, marvel every day at our good fortune. We get to live in a place people come to spend their vacations! In recent years we have seen demand for housing far exceed the supply.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation, granting remote workers with big pocketbooks the ability to live anywhere the want. Large numbers from all over the country have chosen our town. Prices are rising faster than anyone conceived they might.

This creates a big problem for most workers who live paycheck to paycheck. And their problem will soon become ours. Consider how dependent we all are on a growing list of providers.

We are surrounded by heroes – not just folks who run into burning buildings while we’re running out. As the pandemic expanded, so did the list. It was once just medical and emergency service workers, but has grown to include the folks who teach our children, operate public transportation, even bag our groceries!

Think about how life might be without the ready availability of police, EMTs, nurses, medical technicians and daily caregivers. Or the day there’s only one checkout line at Publix (which may not matter if the shelves are mostly empty).

Who will clean our pools, mow our lawns, repair out A/Cs, fix our roads? Schools will be harder to run with fewer teachers. And when we go out to eat, who will be cooking or serving us?

The prices of our homes and condos have grown by 40%. Inventories are down by 70%. Landlords are raising rents indiscriminately, to levels which are simply unaffordable. Heap rising gas prices on workers commuting 2-3 hours a day, and the only place individual budgets can respond is the food line.

Naples and Collier County have become too expensive for our workforce to live. And we are just beginning to feel the pain of doing without valuable service personnel. Today over 40,000 Collier County employees commute from their homes in Lee, Hendry and even Dade Counties.

Be assured when they find jobs closer to home, they will take them, taking their knowledge and experience with them. Government should not be in the business of constructing and operating housing developments. But the rules they generate governing zoning density, the amounts they charge for impact fees, and the time they take to process applications, are critical in determining the viability of an apartment development.

Governments have the power to encourage and enable developers to build essential housing. For the first time since 2005, this happened in Collier County in March 2022 with the groundbreaking of three new projects – two for seniors (Allegroat Hacienda Lakes and Cadenza at Hacienda Lakes, with 160 apartments each) and Harmony at Santa Barbara – 82 workforce apartments.

Hopefully many more will follow. We must apply the necessary pressure to build more affordable housing in Collier County before it’s too late. Our quality of life is at risk. Please tell your county commissioners and city councilmen this must be among their highest priorities.

Joe Trachtenberg is chairman of Collier County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and past board chairman of St Matthew’s House. He has been a resident of Naples since 2004.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.