The Three Agreements of Housing in Southwest Florida

Advocacy & Policy,

The Three Housing Agreements of Southwest Florida

You’ve probably noticed this in your own life, but it seems like we disagree more than we agree these days.  

But based on our conversations with people like you, we’d like to propose three simple ideas we all can agree on, no matter what role you play in the housing landscape:  

Agreement 1: Working people and retired people deserve safe housing options in our community, with rents or mortgages that can fit within their budgets.  

What the research shows is that our housing problem isn’t just an inflation issue, nor an immigrant issue, nor a low-wages issue. It’s not a snowbird issue or a post-COVID issue, either. It’s touching all of us—maybe even you or someone you love.  

Agreement 2: The lack of housing affects the availability of public and private services such as police, fire, utilities, education, healthcare, elder care and others—and it’ll only get worse unless we act.  

True story: a local resident called a major health system and found that the earliest she could book a doctor’s appointment was nine months later. While that seems extreme, it’s happening to industries and services all over. The long wait on your home repair? That’s really about housing. The traffic on our roads? Housing.  

Agreement 3: There’s no magic wand solution, and all of the players involved need to be willing to bend before something breaks. 

At a forum in January 2023, the Collier County Sherriff’s department reported that they can’t hire due to lack of housing. In response, their deputies are now working 12-hour days. Plus, many of those deputies face an hour commute each way. That’s not a unique story—every business and public service agency is reporting a gap in staffing because we have a gap in housing.  

Now, here at SWFL Inc., we’re optimists at heart and don’t want to catastrophize. But it’s not difficult to imagine a crisis emerging when our community can’t sustain basic health & safety services. It’s preventable when we can do the work to become the place people can live easier.  

Maybe you don’t agree with each of these statements 100% yet. That’s okay.  

Our goal in connecting with you here is to help make this complicated issue a little simpler and hopefully answer your questions.  

In future emails, we’ll introduce you to all the players involved, including builders, government officials, employers, investors, the media and even YOU, our friends in the community.  

We all have a part to play, and an opportunity to bend before something breaks.  

That way, we can work together to influence housing decisions faster. Thanks for being here.  

P.S. As a reminder, we’re a volunteer task force powered by SWFL Inc., the region’s only five-star Chamber of Commerce as awarded by the US Chamber of Commerce. SWFL Inc. represents over 3,400 businesses and their 7,000 employees in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties in Southwest Florida.  

Our goal is to help make this complicated issue a little simpler so we can bring people together and influence housing decisions faster. We love to hear from you. Click here to ask a question or tell us YOUR story