(Naples Daily News – Kitty Keane Op-Ed – January 10, 2023) I was horrified to hear about the NCH nurse who is living in her van because her rent increased, and she could no longer afford to live here. Then, I was heartbroken to hear about a 75-year-old woman who could not afford her apartment when the rent doubled, and she worried she may become homeless. For the past 25 years, she’s been a dedicated cashier at a local hardware store. Sadly, they are not alone. Many essential workers like nurses, police, teachers and restaurant employees are being priced out of Collier County.
Employers are sounding the alarm and scrambling for solutions as they lose these workers. Workforce housing is so critical to the continued well-being of our community that the organization I lead, Greater Naples Leadership (GNL), is sponsoring a free Community Forum to raise awareness of how the lack of affordable housing is hurting our quality of life. Seven leaders from health care, education, law enforcement, retailers, and major employers will speak to the difficulty they have in hiring and retaining employees who cannot afford to live in Collier County. We will also feature testimonials from workers facing this critical situation . . .