Lee County draft action plan for billion-dollar grant must meet federal guidelines

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Lee County residents, your voice is needed. Starting Wednesday, there’s an opportunity for you to attend public meetings and have your say on the draft action plan for a $1.1 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The plan, carefully developed by the Resilient Lee task force over several months, was released Tuesday. It aims to improve housing, infrastructure, public services and planning initiatives in Lee County. 

The first of nine public meetings at the Bonita Springs City Council meeting released their final 264 paged draft for how they plan to spend $1.1 billion grant.

[ READ MORE: Lee County seeks input on $1.1B federal aid for Ian recovery ]

A public comment period has now opened and will run through the end of August, giving community members a chance to weigh in on the draft plan.

WINK News discovered many people attending the first meeting on Wednesday had never heard of Resilient Lee.

“Somebody hasn’t done a good job about voicing what this program is about and getting it out there,” Matt Davis said, who visits Southwest Florida.

Two people spoke during public comment and asked how to apply for the money. The applications are not open yet.

The county plans to submit the final draft to HUD in September.

“All of those comments will be compiled and considered. And ultimately the board of county commissioners will potentially make modifications to the final plan that’s submitted to HUD,” said Glen Salyer, assistant county manager of Lee County.

Proposed distribution of funds, according to Lee County

  • HOUSING: $660,000,000
  • INFRASTRUCTURE:  $207,980,950
  • MITIGATION: $144,506,000
  • PUBLIC SERVICES : $15,000,000
  • PLANNING: $25,000,000
  • ADMINISTRATION: $55,394,050

As currently written, the draft emphasizes affordable housing development, home assistance programs and even behavioral health services to help families impacted by the hurricane. However, to meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidelines, at least 70 percent of the $1.1 billion grant must benefit low-to-moderate income households. In Lee County, a single-person household would qualify at $47,700 or less per year, whereas the limit for total household income is $68,100 per year for a family of four.

Proposed housing recovery projects include repairing, reconstructing and elevating single-family homes, rehabilitating multi-family and rental housing, building new affordable housing units and offering voluntary residential buyouts. The allocated funds for housing programs would cover about 2,800 households. Lee County also has proposed a Home Purchase Assistance program to help low- and moderate-income families get homes outside the special flood hazard area.

As of now, the proposed allocation of $660 million for housing programs represents around 60 percent of the total county allocation.

This recovery plan could take more than five years, and the county can make adjustments as the needs of the community change. Now, it’s up to the people of Lee County to share their thoughts on the plan.

List of locations where the public meetings will take place

  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023: Bonita Springs City Council; 9101 Bonita Beach Road Bonita Springs, FL 34135
  • 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023: Cape Coral City Council; 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33990
  • 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023: North Fort Myers Recreation Center; 2000 N. Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers, FL 33903
  • 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023: Town of Fort Myers Beach / DiamondHead Beach Resort; 2000 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023: Veterans Park; 55 Homestead Road, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936
  • 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023: The Heights Center; 15570 Hagie Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908
  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023: City of Fort Myers / Stars Complex; 2980 Edison Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33916
  • 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023: Pine Island Elementary School; 5360 Ridgewood Drive, Bokeelia, FL 33922
  • 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 29, 2023: City of Sanibel / Big Arts Sanibel; 900 Dunlop Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957

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