District 4 County Commissioner Penny Taylor spoke to members of the East Naples Civic Association (ENCA) in regards to the ongoing issue of the development of affordable housing in Collier County.
The county is considering properties in East Naples as possible sites for affordable housing communities. The areas include land along Santa Barbara Boulevard and near the future site of Manatee Park, south of U.S. 41.
ENCA has requested that the affordability levels for the housing project be limited to households making 81 to 150 percent of Collier County’s median income, which is $68,300. The association also asked that a portion of the affordable housing units be reserved for seniors in the median income threshold. They do not support the land designated for a Manatee Park to be used for affordable housing.
The Affordable Housing Index formula categorizes income based on the percentage of the median earned, ranging from extremely low, very low, low, moderate, and gap. For instance, an individual or family who earns less than 50 percent of the median income is considered to be in the very low category.
“We want the best for East Naples and we want to have a variety of different income levels,” ENCA board member Christopher Shucart said. “But we just, at least from our board perspective, we feel as though from the extremely low and the very low income, we have enough of it here.”
Commissioner Taylor argued that many government employees, including administrative assistants, maintenance workers, and technicians would not be eligible for the affordable housing under the current requested regulations.
“Someone making $36,000 per year is not someone that needs to be turned away from housing because of the income they make, because of the problems and challenges we have in this community about salaries commensurate to housing costs,” she said.
She went on to say that according to census data, 17 percent of Collier County workers (approximately 40,000 people) commute to work from outside of county lines.
According to the 2017 Collier County Community Housing Plan, a projected 1,665 home units in Collier County are needed at various income levels, including cost burdened households (households that spend more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing and other associated costs).
However, many on the ENCA board feel that East Naples has sufficient affordable housing for its constituents.
District 1 County Commissioner Donna Fiala expressed a desire for further reaching affordable housing in different sections of the county outside of East Naples.
She said, “Major portions of jobs are in the city and in North Naples. The biggest corporations, the highest high-rises, the hotels—we don’t have any hotels here [East Naples]. The restaurants, there’s a plethora of them. We have about 10. These are all the people that need work all the time. They need employees. But you don’t have any affordable housing there.”
A Town Hall meeting is set to take place on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at Regional South Library, 8065 Lely Cultural Pkwy, Naples, from 6-8 PM.