Southwest Florida’s housing shortage crisis

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Available homes in Southwest Florida. Credit: WINK News

Southwest Florida is a growing area, and that high demand makes it a challenge to find a house or an apartment. WINK News spoke to people who have been waiting more than three months to find a place to stay in Southwest Florida. They say landlords charge a non-refundable fee for applications only to come back and say there’s nothing available right now.

Ashley Terrell is a woman who says she has been looking for a three-bedroom apartment for three months and has not found anything. She is now calling hotels and campsites but is not having the best luck with those, either.

“The minute we applied, they were gone—they’re going fast, I feel sorry for everybody else that’s going through this because I know how horrible I feel,” Terrell said. “And I just pray for them because if they’ve got kids in their… in my situation, I know how you feel. I know exactly how you feel. It’s scary.”

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson says if you are struggling with finding housing right now, contact non-profit agencies like the United Way or the Salvation Army, and they will help you look.

WINK News reached out to Lee County and asked how the issue is being dealt with on a countywide level. County officials say they have programs that can help:

  • Homeowner Housing Development
  • Homeowner Housing Rehabilitation
  • Rental Housing Rehabilitation
  • Rental Housing Development
  • Down Payment Assistance

Joe Volpe, a man who has been looking for a place to stay for more than three months, says every time he goes on a website to look, he will see that the price has drastically gone up or the home has been sold.

“There’s so many people looking right now that there’s 100 to 200 applicants per house and there’s a $100 application fee that’s not refundable to the management, so they’re making a lot of money off us but not letting you know if you got the house or not,” Volpe said.

Lee County says it has spent more than $7 million on affordable housing projects in the last five years.

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