Single mom, kids could face homelessness in search for affordable housing

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Mandy Rider and her kids
Mandy Rider and her kids Credit: WINK News

A single mother and her four children are at risk of homelessness. This working mother is urgently searching for affordable housing by March 1.

So far, the housing program in Fort Myers hasn’t been any help. Why is her search hitting a dead end?

The clock is ticking for Mandy Rider to find a new place for her family of five to live. Her landlord plans to sell their current home, so she and her four kids have to be out in two weeks.

“We had about 45 days to find a place, and so far, I have found nothing,” said Rider.

Rider works full-time as a bus driver for Lee County schools. And while she does qualify for The City of Fort Myers’ housing choice voucher, it’s for a three-bedroom unit. Rider says the three-bedroom units are all full and far out of her price range. Or, some of those properties won’t take her voucher.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s really sad. Like I can work over in this area. My kids can go to school in this area. My daughter is in daycare, but now we can’t afford to live in this area,” said Rider.

FGCU real estate expert Shelton Weeks says Rider’s story is becoming far more common.

Southwest Florida is growing, and inflation is forcing prices to increase. “It makes an already challenging hiring market even more difficult for employers. So not only will they have issues in terms of recruiting new workers to the marketplace, ” said Weeks.

“But they also struggle to retain the folks that are already here because they’ll they’ll look at their cost of housing, and perhaps look to other areas that might be more affordable and start to think about, Well, should I relocate?” Weeks said.

That is not something that Rider wants to do. She simply doesn’t want to uproot her kids.

“They are worried, too. They are like, where are we going to go? Where are we going to stay?” Rider said.

So, Rider drives her school bus by day and races to find a new home by night. She hopes to find a home that is safe, affordable and suitable.

Rider told WINK News that the rent at her current home is just over $1,700 per month. Her housing voucher only covers a portion of that. Prices for three=bedroom apartments typically start at $2,000 a month.

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