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Low-income housing project for Immokalee breaks ground

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According to the latest US Census data, average earnings in Immokalee are $19,610 per year and median rent is $9,576. That means renters are paying an average of 48% of their salaries on housing, a rate that’s unsustainable for many people. The Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance says it’s even worse than that for many. Hoping to do something about it, the group broke ground last month on a low-income apartment complex.

Arol Buntzman is Chairman and CEO of the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance.

“Safe, affordable housing in Immokalee is actually the missing link to getting low-income families, farmworker families and other low-income families, out of the situation of exploitation and poverty," says Buntzman. "There is such a shortage that many of the families don’t have a choice but to rent trailers and shacks that are very old and moldy and holes in the floors. And in doing that they have to pay 60 to 70 percent of their household income. That’s the problem that we are addressing.”

The development, located at Lake Trafford Rd. and North 19th street, will have 128 2- and 3-bedroom units. It is near a supermarket and a bus line. Renters will not pay more than 30% of household income and will need to provide Social Security information and undergo background checks. Buntzman says that financing is from donations from faith-based organizations, not-for-profits, and individuals. Bank of America recently provided a $100,000 grant as well.

The first buildings are projected to be habitable by the end of 2022.

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