LIFE Letter You Can Sign

L.I.F.E. Letter You Can Sign 


LIFE for Justice – Justice for Life.
LIFE (Lee Interfaith For Empowerment)
Subject: Affordable Housing: Take Action

Greetings FMCUCC Justice Seekers…..

A change in plans. Now we are not asking folks to attend the July 20 budget meeting of the Fort Myers City Council in person – we are physically distancing. But, we are asking for your signature on the following letter to go as the public comment from LIFE. The letter below was drafted by some folks on our affordable housing team and we are asking you – Will you sign your name to this letter? If so- click the button below to email your name now as you want it printed to: 

PLEASE NOTE: We need all names submitted by Wednesday the 15th. 


To members of Fort Myers City Council

Lee Interfaith For Empowerment is sending this comment rather than attending in person so we can protect your health and ours; this comment comes from our 15 member congregations and the undersigned _____ community members.

In November, you the Fort Myers City Council unanimously agreed to the suggestion of Councilmember Johnny Streets to look into creating and funding a Fort Myers affordable housing trust fund.

Since that time, LIFE has drafted a proposal and sent it to you repeatedly asking for a workshop to discuss an Affordable Housing Trust Fund ordinance.

We now hear you are looking to add a line item to the city budget of no less than $1 million for affordable housing to fund the current city ordinance. Our concerns are threefold.

Firstly, LIFE is clear it will take an investment of $3 million to leverage the funds needed to create the rental units necessary in our city. We are lacking over 4,000 rental units and an investment of $3 million will leverage an expected $18 million more (average for trust funds nationally are $6 for $1 invested).

Secondly, the general revenue is one way to fund a trust fund; however, it is not secured for ongoing revenue. We implore you to look at what other cities are using with Ad Valorem taxes or Developer Impact Fees to allow for an ongoing secured funding source.

Thirdly, the current statute on the city books related to affordable housing trust fund is inadequate and in need of major revision. The current statute is set up for rental assistance and single-family homeownership opportunities. We need revision to allow for granted funds to go to the creation of new multi-family housing units. Similarly, the current ordinance is not specific enough with income limits and LIFE wants to see at least 80% of funds going to those at or below 60% Area Median Income.

LIFE has spoken to three separate developers willing to create multi-family housing units for families at or below 60% area median income. All three have stated that a locally funded trust fund would open new opportunities. Every moment the city delays in crafting an ordinance; families in our city are suffering. We first brought this idea to city staff in 2018 – too much time has passed and there is a critical need to allocate funding to a properly crafted ordinance. Please, use the upcoming city budget hearings to set aside no less than $3 million and set a workshop date immediately to craft a revised affordable housing trust fund ordinance.


(whomever adds their name)


Why would you sign the above letter to be presented as “public comment” at the July 20 Fort Myers City Council meeting? (We had originally talked about having a lot of people attend the July 20 Fort Myers City Council Meeting on Zoom. But now that is not possible so this letter is deemed the most effective way to make our point.)

BACKGROUND: The congregations of LIFE need to have large numbers of people sign this letter to show the Council Members that we are serious about the need for Affordable Housing in Fort Myers.

Meeting with Council member Streets we heard that the city plan is to use an existing Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AFHT) ordinance. That’s the good news; they won’t have to pass a new ordinance but only approve the funding.

BUT, the current AHTF Is designed to offer rent and mortgage subsidies and does not address the serious need for new affordable housing units. In addition, the current AHTF is aimed at a family income level above the LIFE proposal of households making under 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).

And of course there is the question of what level of funding. The LIFE “ask” is for $3 million a year for 10 years to meet the current need. We have identified developers who are ready to submit proposals. The Governor’s announcement that he has cut affordable housing funding from the current state budget is making funding more of a problem at the same time that COVID layoffs are increasing the need for affordable housing.

Basically, the city wants $1 million for home-ownership for families making over $80,000 a year and we want the city to use $3 million a year to build apartments for families making less than $40,000 a year. This is keeping with the Biblical mandate giving priority to the needs of the “least of these.”

Now more than ever we are called to be the voice of the voiceless. It is complicated and the letter you are being asked to sign contains technical language. If you have questions contact Jim Boler who serves on the LIFE Affordable Housing team and he will help you find the answers you need. His email is

If you would like to participate live on the 20th you can watch online or call in via zoom to make your own public comment or you can email it ahead of time by following instructions found here: 


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