Fort Myers starts loan program for smaller affordable housing projects

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this Aug. 12, 2021, file photo construction workers erect the frames of a home in a new subdivision in Allen, Texas. White House officials are outlining plans to build and restore more than 2 million homes. It’s a response to the volcanic rise in housing prices over the past year. Millions of Americans are getting priced out of ownership or stuck spending the bulk of their income on rent. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency has announced a Revolving Housing Loan Program for smaller affordable housing projects.

This loan is meant to incentivize the development of affordable housing options, something the CRA says is desperately needed in the area. It’s available in the Cleveland Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard redevelopment areas. The loans will target smaller projects, like single-family homes and apartments with fewer than 40 units.

“The program was designed, really, to fill a void in the market,” said Joseph Bonsora, with Catalyst Community Capital. “A lot of times, when you think about addressing this issue, you think about these large projects, you know, ‘We need to build 200-unit, 300-unit, large workforce housing,’ which is true, but there’s also another place where we can help fill that gap, which is these smaller projects, which is, you know, the duplexes, the four-unit, the 10-unit.”

Loans must be repaid within two years. Once the loan is repaid, that money goes back to the trust so it can be loaned out again in the project area to help build more affordable housing.

“The City of Fort Myers really has been working with the Housing Authority and has done so much to address the low income scale of housing,” said Michele Hylton-Terry, executive director for the Fort Myers CRA. “And, of course, we have provided tax income rebates and incentives for higher-end housing, this is our opportunity to address that missing middle. And I do believe that this program will… it will start something that can build on itself.”

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