Charlotte County is giving away free land for affordable housing

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Construction site for affordable housing. (Credit: WINK News)
Construction site for affordable housing. (Credit: WINK News)

Charlotte County is giving away land for free to help inspire a building boom. By 2025, the county needs to add nearly 11,000 housing units to keep pace with demand — half of those need to be “affordable,” according to the United Way. But, there is a catch.

Rustie MacDonald lives with her daughter in Englewood for most of the year. She FaceTime with us from New Hampshire Monday. She is working there since it is the slow season at her job on Englewood Beach.

But, returning to Charlotte County will be a challenge this year.

“In order to survive you have to do what you got to do,” MacDonald said. “We have nowhere to go when we go back.”

MacDonald had rented a house in Englewood, but she said her landlord decided to sell it. Now, she needs to find a new place to live on one income while saving up thousands of dollars to cover move-in costs.

“That’s not affordable when you are making $5.34 per hour as a waitress,” MacDonald said.

Carrie Hussey, who works for Charlotte County Human Services, said the area is not alone in its struggle for affordable housing. But, it does want to increase inventory.

Charlotte County has more than a dozen vacant homes and pieces of land it has acquired over the previous decade. It wants to give those properties to non-profits free of charge as long as they use it to create affordable housing.

“It’s a work in progress,” Hussey said. “We have to work together to be able to make a dent in any of this.”

The catch is the non-profit already has to focus on creating affordable housing. Once approved, it can bid for those vacant homes and properties. The county has already received more than a dozen applications from non-profits. The deadline to apply is June 30.

“It’s a strategy that we feel like it is worthwhile,” Hussey said.

“There is a huge gap,” MacDonald said. “It needs to be fixed.”

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