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Farmworker rental complex in Immokalee being built by Non-profits!

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Farm Worker Housing desperately needed - excellent idea. Repost of naples daily news article.

A nonprofit housing organization plans to develop an $8 million farmworker rental housing project in Immokalee.

The nonproft Florida Non-Profit Services Inc. has a contract to acquire 16 acres at 2702 Immokalee Drive W., north of Immokalee Road between El Paso Trail and Dilsa Lane.

The land is part of the 30-acre ESPERANZA PLACE project, which Collier County commissioners agreed to rezone this summer into a planned development.

ESPERANZA PLACE is a joint venture of two nonprofit organizations, Florida Non-Profit Services Inc. and the Empowerment Alliance of Southwest Florida.

Florida Non-Profit Services Inc., a sister organization of Immokalee Non-Profit Housing Inc., has obtained a $2.7 million grant and a $300,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the project.

The money will provide 45 multifamily rental-housing units, part of the first phase of Esperanza Place.

Sheryl Soukup, executive director of Immokalee Non-Profit Housing, thanked supporters, including county commissioners and planning officials, who worked with the organization to get through a “very difficult process to be eligible for the funding deadline.”

The organization is now doing a site development plan that has to be approved by county government and hopes to start work at the site by January, Soukup said.

Phase one is expected to offer 32 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units and 13 three-bedroom, two-bath units.

Ultimately, plans call for 176 units in 11 buildings with 16 units in each building and a community center.

One-bedroom units are included in the next phase.

The amount of rent isn’t set yet, Soukup said.

The organization is also working with The Southwest Florida Water Management District to limit the effects on wetlands at the site.

This site is a good one for the project, with no species listed as threatened or endangered in that area, said Brad Cornell, Southwest Florida policy associate for the Collier County Audubon Society.

“Generally we encourage all developers to be looking at development sites that aren’t going to harm habitat for species and wetlands but that’s hard to do because there’s wetlands in Collier County almost everywhere,” Cornell said.

Collier County Planning Commissioner Paul Midney said the proposed site used to be a marginal wetland 50 years ago but isn’t really a wetland any more.

Although Commissioner Jim Coletta, whose district includes Immokalee, said additional affordable farmworker housing is wonderful, there are questions if the current farmworker housing in Immokalee is utilized.

Essie Serrata, executive director of the Collier County Housing Authority, said that Farm Worker Village has vacancies now, but that there are contributing factors, including the off-season summer months for farmworkers, the bad economy and other farmworker legal issues.

Pre-development costs for Esperanza Place already have been taken care of, including a deposit on the land, engineering, environmental services, grant application fees, administrative and county fees, Soukup said.

Several expenses have been shared with the Empowerment Alliance of Southwest Florida.

Adjacent to this project, the Empowerment Alliance also plans to provide affordable housing in the form of 62 home-ownership units.

The units will be on 14 acres and will not be restricted only to farmworkers, said Dottie Cook, executive director of the Empowerment Alliance of Southwest Florida, Immokalee program.

The $12.8 million project is expected to break ground in November or December and could open for families in 2010.

This would be the Empowerment Alliance of Southwest Florida’s third subdivision.

Currently, 60 families are on a waiting list for a home.

“There is still a need,” Cook said. “The demands are still there for affordable units.”


Farmworker rental complex in Immokalee being built by Non-profits! Farm Worker Housing desperately needed - excellent idea.  Repost of naples daily news article.