CAPE CORAL

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Cape Coral City Council will look at funding a new all-ages affordable housing development that has been in the works since March.

The 96-unit Civitas community to be built off Pine Island Road would be open to families of all ages. Typically, such developments are aimed at seniors, but this one will have no age restrictions. Cape Coral officials say they are trying to create more affordable all-ages housing for city residents because they know it’s tough for people to keep up with the cost of living.

The rental housing will be for people at or below 80% of the area’s median income, meaning a family of four would have to make less than $64,000 to live in these units. The funding for this project comes from the city, the state and the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

Amy Yearsley, Cape Coral housing coordinator, says residents are struggling more than ever to find affordable housing and rates just continue to go up, partly due to migration from other states.

“We are seeing significant rent increases and significant pricing issues as we see an influx of people from the north, people who are able to remotely work and move here and work from beautiful Florida versus, you know, up north,” Yearsley said. “We see that’s just driving rents up and driving housing prices up.”

If you want to move to Cape Coral, you better have big bucks.

“Just a couple of years ago you could’ve probably bought a 3-bedroom, two-bath home for around ($250,000) without a pool. Now that’s probably ($350,000) is the lowest. It’s more typical in the ($400,000) and up without a pool,” said Sam Yaffey, a realtor in Cape Coral for 26 years.

Renting a place isn’t much easier.

“When you have a predominantly hospitality-based industries, and people in the building industry, those wages aren’t growing at the amount that they are for other type of occupations. And it just can’t keep up,” Yearsley said.

Officials say the development’s location off Pine Island Road will be especially beneficial for families on a budget. A typical family of four earning $64,000 a year could get a 2-bedroom for $1,448 or a 3-bedroom for $1,673.

“It’s on a major corridor with access to shopping, access to jobs, access to some medical facilities with some urgent care, so it’s a really great location… also has access to public transit, just a good location for something like this,” Yearsley said.

Cape Coral officials say they expect construction to begin on the Civitas community in six months.

“Families will benefit from knowing that they can live in a brand new apartment complex and not pay over 30 percent of their gross income towards the rent,” said Marcus Goodson with the Lee County Housing Authority.

But more needs to be done.

“These 96 units will help 96 families but there are thousands of other families that need a rental, housing,” Goodson said.

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