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Naples City And County Leaders Looking To Address Affordable Housing Problem

Naples city and council leaders are looking to start a plan to address the affordable housing problem in the area.

This controversial piece of Naples business news has many wondering how to best resolve the issue that is fair to all citizens.

The problem is it’s so expensive some people can’t afford to live in the city.

Some people are having to drive more than an hour just to get to work.

A city councilwoman is even calling it a crisis.

She’s trying to come up with a plan to help first responders and other city workers.

“What I proposed on Monday was that the city put up a piece of land for sale to a particular buyer in hopes that we would accrue enough from the sale that we could put that into a fund,” Councilwoman Linda Penniman said.

The money would be put aside for city employees who qualify. Similar to an emergency fund that will help them buy a house in the area.

This would hopefully keep workers in the city and cut out some of those dreadful hour long drives.

“Twenty-nine years ago, when I got on the fire department here in Naples,” Naples Fire Chief Pete Dimaria said, “I commuted over a year from Pompano Beach in Broward County.”

“It was about an hour and twenty-minute drive each way and that can be stressful. Time away from your family and just in the car. It can be stressful.”

“ We have wonderful employees we’d like to be able to keep them,” Penniman said. “Hopefully this will help keep the good employees that we still have so that they don’t run into a situation where they can no longer afford to work for the city because they live too far away.”

The plan isn’t set in stone and councilwoman Penniman hopes more people will get on board.

Wait. But what about people who aren’t Naples city workers like you and me?

The county is also trying to come up with a plan.

“We’re not narrowing it like they did in the city,” district 4 commissioner Penny Taylor said. “We’re talking about anyone who spends more than 30% of their income on housing all the bills that go with housing.”

The average price of housing is $440,000.

That’s pretty pricey by historical standards. Commissioner Taylor says about 60,000 people just can’t afford that.

“If we are going to diversify as a county we need to provide housing for future workers,” Taylor said. “If we are going to get future we need to have the housing so they will come to Collier County and feel like they can be a part of it.”

Not all of the commissioners agree with Taylor. Much is left to be debated. The next discussion will be held on April 24.