Business Leaders Help Florida Teachers Buy Homes
An innovative local program established by a group of business leaders in Southwest Florida to provide $1.2 million in financial assistance to help qualified public school teachers and educators at colleges and universities in Lee County buy homes is being championed as a model by educational leaders and statewide elected officials.
Working with the Lee County Housing Development Corporation (LCHDC), the Bonita Bay Group and its chairman, David Lucas, have contracted to purchase 60 new condominiums in the Osprey Cove Community on Nov. 22. The goal of the private partnership is then to convey the units to qualified purchasers as soon as possible.
The partnership’s first goal is to provide interest-free loans for downpayment assistance with no repayment required until the property is sold. Recovery of the downpayment assistance will be used to help another teacher buy the property at an affordable price, preserving the property for subsequent teachers in perpetuity.
The group is also working with the LCHDC to obtain additional funds through various sources for teachers that quality for federal and state funds to further underwrite the purchase prices to ensure that they are affordable.
Second, the partnership will work with local lenders to obtain mortgage financing at reduced rates.
To be eligible for the program, the annual family income of teachers can be no higher than $80,000. The educators who are chosen will receive a minimum of $10,000 in financial assistance from partnership grants to potentially $50,000 for a family who is eligible for additional state and federal grants.
The community partners include Bonita Bay Group, Chico’s Charities, Oswald-Trippe & Company, Inc., the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Gates-McVey Companies, Colonial Bank, Steve and Kathy Shimp, and Alan Freeman.
“I am inspired by the generosity and vision of the leadership of these outstanding community partners and appreciate their commitment to addressing the critical workforce housing crisis facing our region and state," said Republican state Rep. Mike Davis from Naples. He sponsored the $637 million bill to promote affordable housing for essential public workers that was passed in the state legislature this year.
“Giving back to the community has always been one of our company’s core business values and supporting the critically important work being done by teachers is our privilege,” said Lucas. “I have been pleased to see how quickly our community partners joined this effort to solve a critical issue facing our community.”
Participants in the program agree to deed and resale restrictions that require them to give LCHDC the right of first refusal to purchase their condo when they are ready to sell. They also agree that they are entitled to receive only a percentage of the appreciation on the home when it is sold; the remaining equity will be retained by the partnership and used to ensure that the unit remains available at an affordable price for the next teacher.
For information on workforce housing issues, e-mail Blake Smith at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8583.