Monday, October 24, 2005

Paradise Slipping Away?

The division of county government that is responsible for managing growth within Collier County is having problems hiring new employees because the growth that’s occurring is making the price of homes too expensive for them to live here.

As of this past week, the Collier County Community Development and Environmental Services department had 25 vacancies.

"Quite frankly, I’m having a difficult time trying to get people on board," said Joe Schmitt, administrator of community development, when asked about open positions in his department.
Job candidates "come down here, and all of the sudden it’s shell-shock when they look at the
cost of housing," he said.

So goes the story in the Naples News.

Those of us living in Sarasota aren’t the only ones with affordable housing problems.

A related Naples story says:

A growing river of teachers, law enforcement officers, health-care workers and service personnel are quitting their jobs, cashing out on historic home profits and trickling out of Collier County to less-expensive, less traffic-congested turf.

And their exodus is leaving businesses in a bind, officials say.

"We have seen more people in the last 12 months who have relocated out of the area because they could make a nice profit (selling their home)," said Brian Settle, human resources director for NCH Healthcare System. "They are physical therapists, nurses, clerical support and administrative staff."

On top of that, their would-be replacements are increasingly turning down job offers because they cannot afford to buy homes in Collier County.

The labor shortage crosses all industries.

Collier County government has 200 openings. The Collier Sheriff’s Office has 100 openings. Within the next two years, the School District will need 700 new teachers to staff new schools.

The affordable housing shortage today is estimated at 31,000 units, said Cormac Giblin, housing and grants manager for Collier County government.

The Sarasota picture is much the same. Employers cannot find new employees because they cannot afford to live here, current employees are looking at greener pastures.

Maybe we have reached a limit. Working people can’t afford to buy a home, so they won’t move here. Those that have recently bought a house in North Port (or similar "bedroom community") because it was affordable now face $3 gas prices for their long commutes. All of us face increasing threats of hurricanes and red tide.

Maybe this isn’t paradise any more.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I am one of the few middle aged Florida Natives here in town. There have been many changes in Florida these past 50 years, and none have been for the better.

This is a pretty good blog.