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Six Lee County apartment complexes will receive about $41.6 million in combined funding for repairs and rehabilitation from Hurricane Ian damage. 

The money comes from the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. Lee County commissioners voted 5-0 in allocating the money, part of a $1.1 billion Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery fund. 

The money will rehabilitate 836 affordable housing units and will be paid to a combination of public housing authorities, for-profit developers and not-for-profit developers through a competitive application process, according to a county news release. 

Jeannie Sutton, director of Lee County’s Strategic Resources and Government Affairs Office, explained how the grants were awarded. Her office was created in response to Hurricane Ian, which struck the region Sept. 28, 2022.

“There was a notice of funding availability,” Sutton said. “That was open to all affordable housing owners in the community. Anyone who owned an affordable, multifamily housing complex could apply. Those were due back on March 1. From there, we evaluated them based on a set of criteria published in the application.”

The involved projects as detailed by the news release are: 

Dunbar Improvement Association Inc.: Palm City Garden Apartments in Fort Myers, which has 100 units. Many need kitchen renovations, HVAC duct replacement, water heaters and bathroom renovations, etc. 

Lee County Housing Authority: Pine Echo Apartments in North Fort Myers has 92 units that need a variety of work and to be brought up to American Disabilities Act codes. 

Southwest Florida Affordable Housing Choice Foundation: Landings at East Point, Fort Myers, 126 units. Those had significant roof damage, which led to water intrusion. All units must be rehabilitated. 

Southwest Florida Affordable Housing Choice Foundation: East Point Place in Fort Myers has 86 units. This will address post-storm water intrusion, replacing cabinets, countertops, appliances, water heaters, etc. 

Southwest Florida Affordable Housing Choice Foundation: Broadway Apartments in Fort Myers has 40 units. 

The Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers: Renaissance Preserve has 392 units. All roofs must be replaced. 

Ryan Benson, chairman of Florida Housing Finance Corporation board of directors, said there were more units for which he tried to get funding, but those were not approved. This grant fell short of the $50 million goal. 

“There were some that did not qualify,” Benson said during the May 21 county commission meeting. “We really want to bring as many units as we could back into service. We just couldn’t get to the baseline we needed. But I’m really excited about the $41.6 million.” 

That portion of the federal funds had about $8.4 million remaining. There are 46 applicants that are continuing to try and get it awarded, Benson said.

Up next: Lee County is accepting applications through June 26 from new construction developers of affordable housing complexes, Sutton said.

“We have another one open for housing and new construction,” Sutton said. “That one is open to for-profit and nonprofit developers.”

The grant will include about $50 million for single-family home developers and about $150 million for multifamily builders, she said.

“We’re going to go through the underwriting process and make sure they are financially feasible and the sites are feasible,” Sutton said. “The recommendations will hopefully go before the board (of commissioners) sometime in October. I’m excited to see the applications that come through on the new developments.”

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