According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, workforce housing is an issue affecting 81.1% of Floridians
Republicans have no plan to provide housing security to hard-working Americans
Workforce housing is a serious and escalating issue in Collier County. Housing affordability is NOT just an unemployed/low-income housing issue; it has become a serious and growing issue for our middle-income workforce, including first responders, hospitality and healthcare workers, teachers, and home/yard maintenance workers.
This issue has also become a critical problem for the business sector in Collier County as it has created worker shortages for most key employers and across most industries. Recent statistics indicate that some 40,000 people, 17.4% of the workforce of Collier County, commute daily from outside the county. Major hurricanes in 2017 and 2022, and periodic lowlands flooding, have further exacerbated the problem with much damage and destruction of affordable workforce housing.
In 2017 the Urban Land Institute (ULI) completed a comprehensive and thorough study on how best to address and fund the escalating Collier County affordability issue. Recommendations included both short and long term solutions. Yet to date, these recommendations have not been implemented or available funding has gone unused.
The Collier County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee has strongly urged available funds be used, but the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) has not responded. Instead, the BCC continues to support high end housing developers at the expense of any affordable housing solutions. Available funds include $20MM from a voter approved 2018 1% Sales Surtax referendum, as well as the statewide Sadowski Affordable Housing Act which now has over $360MM for statewide projects. These funds could immediately attract and help developers for workforce housing right here in Collier County.
A sample of additional important ULI suggestions included:
- Increasing the density from the capped 16 units per acre to 20-25 units per acre in certain areas.
- Creating local development codes to suit dorm-room-sized apartments in desirable, walkable neighborhoods.
- Increasing the deferral of annual impact fees from 10 years to 30 years.
- Providing housing opportunities in or close to commercial job centers.
Addressing workforce housing in the near term will help ease our workforce shortage, potentially help with traffic congestion, and ultimately demonstrate to the BCC and the community at large how affordable housing is beneficial for everyone in our community.