More than four years after Hurricane Irma devastated much of what was already substandard housing in Immokalee, the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance (IFHA) is breaking ground next month on what will become a 128-unit rental community for farmworkers and other low-income residents in northeastern Collier County.
IFHA, a nonprofit 501(c)3 created in 2018 by a group of concerned citizens, purchased 10 acres of land on Lake Trafford Road in Immokalee and began work on infrastructure. The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in December 2022. Upon completion, the full project will include a community center and athletic fields.
“The ripple effect in Immokalee will be economic growth and stability,” says Dr. Arol Buntzman, board chair of the alliance. “Our community should serve as a model for others who wish to provide affordable housing for low-income families in Immokalee and elsewhere.”
Many of these families are paying 60% or more of their combined income to live in dilapidated trailers, often shared with another family, Buntzman said. Rent for the planned units will be less than 30% of family income, freeing up resources for medical care, clothing, food and other necessities, he said.
The project is being funded solely through donations from supporters and other concerned community members, including several churches throughout the region and a recent grant of $100,000 from Bank of America. Boral Engineering and Design Inc. was commissioned to create the master plan, assist with the rezoning and develop the specifications for infrastructure work and permitting. LAI Architectural Group is developing the plans and specifications for the buildings. The general contractor is Heatherwood Construction.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the project will be at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 on the Lake Trafford Road property in Immokalee. Buntzman will preside with Collier County Commissioner William McDaniel serving as keynote speaker. The public is invited to attend. For more information, email IFHAFL@comcast.net.