Progress in Immokalee

Progress in Immokalee

by Rev. Alan Coe Mayflower, UCC/Naples 

The Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance (IFHA) is one giant step further along in the process. Since the Florida Conference annual meeting last October when the challenge went out to the churches of the Conference to match $100,000 given by the Conference as approved by the Board of Directors, people and churches including us at FMCUCC stepped up and donated a little over $100,000 to complete the match. The total amount of $200,000 allowed the IFHA to go ahead with the purchase of the property.

All was going along well until the novel coronavirus took hold of our lives. That postponed the process for awhile but now the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance, Inc. is happy to announce a resounding “YES” vote from the Collier County Planning and Zoning Commission at its July meeting to build 128 decent, safe and hurricane-resistant rental units for low-income farmworker families in Immokalee. The final step in the purchase and sale process will be approval by the Collier County Commissioners at their meeting on September 8. Once approved, the IFHA board expects to close on the property within ten days and begin the infrastructure work.

Short term, IFHA is dedicated to solving the problems of families living in unsafe and unhealthy conditions such as mold, rats, snakes, poor or no electrical connections, poor or no bathing and toilet facilities, families forced to live with strangers in the house, broken appliances and other fixtures, lack of play and study areas and rents consuming 50-60% of the family’s income per month. Especially in these times of the coronavirus, the population has experienced mass contagion due to overcrowded living conditions.

Long term, the IFHA hopes for a community with pre- and after-school care, playgrounds, computer access, homework assistance, adult education, religious services and affordable rents. Children will do better in school. Families will be safer and healthier.

Housing has been the missing link for many years in assisting farmworker families to escape poverty and exploitation. Lower rents will free up needed money to buy food, clothing, medicines and other necessities. The ripple effect will be economic growth and stability for Immokalee. The IFHA goal is to build affordable, low-maintenance, well-managed housing with this neighborhood- model and have the dilapidated trailers some now call home con- demned by the county.

IFHA, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization, and this project will be entirely funded by foundation grants, individual and organization donations. There will be no mortgage and IFHA will be exempt from paying real estate tax. Take a look at their website www.IFHA.info. If you wish to get involved in the IFHA, please be in contact with Rev. Alan Coe, pastor of Mayflower UCC in Naples, at [email protected] or through IFHA’s website. 

 

 

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