Companies exploring ways to help employees afford housing in SWFL

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
FILE: Southwest Florida housing. (Credit: WINK News)

If you are looking for a cheap apartment with a great view in Southwest Florida, good luck. Fort Myers is the second most overpriced rental market in the country, and businesses are having trouble keeping employees because of that high cost of living.

As most people know firsthand, salaries here aren’t always matched up with the cost of living. Some companies can raise wages, but not enough to make an affordable living in Southwest Florida.

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Many employees are working longer hours or having to move farther away from their jobs to afford rent.

Many things make living in Southwest Florida attractive, but housing is not one of them.

Ryan Carter, the president of Scotlynn, a transportation company, says the housing crisis is a big issue for them right now.

“I think, you know, locally, we have little more lux, we hired newer college grads, so they have the ability to find roommates and things like that to, you know, lower their costs for rentals, but out when we hire people, say, from Michigan or New York, or, you know, just anywhere else even. That’s the first thing that there’s any objection moving down here. It’s asking, you know, where can I live that’s affordable,” said Carter.

Terrence Elie and Walter Hernandez attend Fort Myers Technical College.

“I actually had been looking a whole year into getting this apartment. It felt like it took forever finding an affordable apartment,” said Elie.

They work to go to school.

“I actually have two jobs, and I go to school too, so it’s a little difficult. I usually go right after school, I go straight to work. I get off at maybe 11 or 12, and then I wake up at six to go to school,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez said after graduation, “It got me thinking like once I’m done with the school, I’ll probably just move.”

Carter says his company is getting creative to help employees.

“Yeah, so we’ve tossed around the idea of actually creating our own housing. We hired a pretty substantial amount of people each year, and we’ve thought about, you know, building some multifamily not, you know, not as big as like, a huge apartment complex with say, you know, a 10-20 person type facility,” said Carter.

Not every company can purchase or build housing for their employees. Many of the businesses that WINK News reached out to said the lack of affordable housing makes it harder to find employees.

The Lee County School District said they are working with partners to find long-term solutions, but for now, they are helping newly hired teachers find roommates.

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