Workers in Collier County discuss the need for affordable housing

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A fight for affordable housing for the workforce is underway in Collier County after commissioners repealed the ordinance requiring a 60-day notice of any substantial rent hike.

Industries in the county are now gathering to discuss how workers are getting pushed out because of the skyrocketing rent prices.

Workers are trying to get the attention of the Collier County Commissioners by talking about their struggles and how they have to commute from far away because they can’t afford to live in the county.

There was agreement among the people who came to a community forum on workforce housing that the Collier County Commissioners did them no favors when they repealed the 60-day notice ordinance for landlords who plan to raise the rent by more than five percent.

“Did you honestly pray about this when you brought it forward? Honestly, I don’t think so,” said Elizabeth Radi, a Collier County resident.

“I wanted to repeal this ordinance because I wanted to get government out of your life,” said Collier County Commissioner Chris Hall.

Joe Trachtenberg, the chair of the Collier County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, doesn’t like the decision. but is moving on. “So, I was disappointed. But I think it’s time to move on from that point.”

Trachtenberg wants to focus on the lack of affordable housing. He said Collier County is short 10,000 units.

Trachtenberg said if the county fails to act, the workforce will have no choice but to leave. “We live in paradise, but we better figure out how to clean our own pools, mow our own lawns, and repair our homes because the time is coming when we’re not going to be able to hire people of those with those skill sets. And that’s not going to make people happy.”

It’s not just trivial services people could be losing either.

“If you want healthcare services when you go into NCH, you want the sheriff’s office to help you in an emergency, you want the public school system to have a teacher to teach your child. It affects you too,” said Katherine W. Keane, president of Greater Naples Leadership, who held the event to discuss the affordable housing issues on Wednesday.

The workforce housing crisis is hurting everyone.

“I’ve had housekeepers come up to me. They get a letter their rent’s going up $700-$800 a month they can’t afford it,” said Dan Lavender, CEO of Moorings Park.

“We don’t have the ability to hire that extra two, or three, or four, or five people. We run with a fantastic crew, but we’re very fragile,” said Tony Ridgeway, a Naples restaurateur.

That fragility could lead to a crumbling workforce and community. That’s why an affordable housing community forum was held Wednesday in Naples.

“We hope they realize that it’s a significant problem that we need to address. And the wheels start moving forward in terms of finding solutions,” said Keane.

they brought together representatives from Arthrex, NCH, CCPS, CCSO, and other entities to show how many people are affected by the shortage in workforce housing.

“As things become more expensive here, they’re also becoming more expensive in Lee and Hendry counties, and that means the ultimate move is out of the state, and we’re just gonna keep losing people, and honestly, people who live here are not going to like the results,” Trachtenberg said.

Trachtenberg said 48,000 workers couldn’t afford to live in the county.

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