Housing, growth management and the environment are top priorities in Naples

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Reducing housing costs is now the top challenge for 65% of respondents, compared to 45% in 2018.

How Collier County’s quality of life has changed in recent years is detailed in a report to guide action.

The 2023 Collier County Community Assessment identified controlling housing costs, managing growth, and protecting the environment as top priorities.

Residents were surveyed and focus group sessions were held to identify the priorities that leaders in both the public and private sectors need to focus on for change.

more: Southwest Florida’s affordable housing crisis isn’t going away, and wages aren’t keeping up.

The 94-page evaluation, led by the Richard M. Schultz Family Foundation and the Collier Community Foundation, is the latest update on similar efforts in 2018. The document can be accessed at www.SchulzeFamilyFoundation.org/CCCA.

It examines key areas of quality of life in seven categories and what has improved, stayed the same, or become more difficult.

more: Immokalee affordable housing project receives rezoning approval

The seven subject areas are Economic Opportunity/Employment, Education, Environment, Healthcare/Mental Health, Housing, Infrastructure/Transportation, and Special Populations.

Both nonprofit charities provide millions of dollars each year to projects and initiatives that address immediate and long-term needs, covering everything from disaster recovery, job training, housing, education, and more.

Residents are encouraged to attend a public presentation on the findings and can read the report at www.SchulzeFamilyFoundation.org/CCCA.

For the new assessment, 6,000 people completed the survey. This is a 46% increase from the 4,100 respondents in 2018.

“They want to be heard,” said Community Foundation CEO Eileen Connolly Keesler.

What we learned from the survey

Its purpose is to highlight barriers faced by residents, quantify needs, and help leaders identify resources available to address gaps and address shortcomings.

Survey respondents were asked to choose from a list of three areas that community leaders should prioritize moving forward. The results are almost the same as in 2018.

Main findings

  • Housing cost containment – now 65% compared to 45% in 2018.
  • Managing growth and development – 63% compared to 38% in 2018
  • Environment – 41% compared to 22% in 2018.
  • Bringing higher-paying jobs to the region – 32% compared to 39% in 2018.
  • Public education and workforce training – 24% compared to 22% in 2018.
  • Mental health services – 23% (not included in 2018 priorities)
  • Access to health and dental care – 22% (not included in 2018 priorities)
  • Childcare and after-school programs – 19% (not included in 2018 priorities)

Reaction to the survey results

Managing housing costs, managing growth, and economic issues remain as important as they were in 2018, but this time the environment for conservation, emergency resilience, and planning has increased significantly.

“It was certainly no surprise that housing came in first place,” Connolly Keelser said.

The reason housing has jumped so quickly in priority is likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rising interest rates and landlords raising rent prices, he said.

more: Commissioner Collier advances code changes to encourage more affordable housing development

“We all need to focus on that,” she said.

Regarding how Collier County government is addressing affordable housing needs, she said: “They’re picking at it piece by piece.”

He said key groups have been meeting for the past year to create a new housing hub-like organization.

Progress requires joint efforts from the private sector and government, she added.

The Schultz Family Foundation, Community Foundation and Moorings Park Foundation have contributed a combined $10 million to the housing project.

Is there anything surprising in the report?

Mary Beth Guyer, Florida director of the Schultz Family Foundation, said no one would be surprised by what residents consider to be their priorities.

“Growth management and housing have been a big concern in our community for quite some time, and they’re even more so now as we continue to see an influx of people moving here,” Geyer said. Told.

The 2023 survey was sent last fall after Hurricane Ian last September, and the previous survey was sent after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“Both hurricanes caused significant damage in Collier County, so we expect the environment to be a focus of concern,” she said.

Regarding short- and long-term goals, Geyer said partnerships are important for government, the private and nonprofit sectors.

“As unique as we are as a community, there are other areas across the country that are grappling with similar issues,” she said.

Jamie Ulmer, president and CEO of Healthcare Network, said the lack of prioritization of health care access needs to be considered by different subsets of respondents. The same goes for access to affordable child care, which is last on the list of priorities.

Access to both is a much more important issue for low-income residents in Immokalee and other areas.

Thirty-two percent of respondents with school-age children were more likely to say child care and after-school programs are a priority, compared to 19% of respondents overall.

Similarly, 42% of low-income households say access to health care is a priority, significantly higher than 22% of all respondents.

For his organization, which provides medical, dental and mental health care to low-income residents, this evaluation shows that the health care network continues to meet needs and keep pace with population growth.

Public presentation:

The schedule for presentations at 999 Vanderbilt Beach Road, 4th Floor, Conference Center is as follows:

  • Monday, November 13th – 9am to 10:30am
  • Monday, November 13th – 1:30pm to 3:00pm
  • Tuesday, January 16th, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, January 17th, 4:30pm to 6:00pm



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