Affordable housing coming for farmworkers in Immokalee

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Melissa Montoya
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for affordable housing apartments in Immokalee on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (CREDIT: WINK News)

More than 100 affordable apartments will be built for low-income families in Immokalee.

The Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance broke ground for the project on Wednesday. It includes 128 unit safe, sanitary affordable apartments. They are being built on the corner of Lake Trafford Road and North 19th Street.

The new housing will help an area of Southwest Florida that has faced a decades-long housing problem that includes overcrowded, dilapidated trailers and shacks that rent for too much money.

Homes in the area were destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, but Lupita Vazquez Reyes said the hurricane only brought to light the issue more.

“What are workers supposed to do,” Vazquez Reyes said. “Why am I seeing the same lack of infrastructure, the same lack of housing?”

Vazques Reyes’ mother Cristina arrived in Immokalee as a farmworker in the 70s.

She said she remembers coming home to horrible conditions after a long day in the hot sun.

“You don’t even able to sleep because the trailer they were so far in with mice,” Vazquez said. “You name it and it was, it was just terrible.”

Arol Buntzman, chairman with the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance, said the new homes will keep people from living in squalor.

“Means that they won’t get sick, kids won’t miss school, they’ll do better in school, their parents won’t miss work, they’ll do better work,” Buntzman said.

Construction on the apartments is expected to be finished late in 2022. A 2-bedroom apartment will go for less than $600 a month. The complex will also include a community center with computer labs, a library and a playground and sports field.

“This is a step in the right direction, to be able to restore the dignity of farmworkers,” said Gerardo Reyes Chavez, with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

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