Arol Buntzman, chair of the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance, announced that the alliance has received a $1 million donation from the NoVo Foundation to help build a safe, affordable apartment rental community in Immokalee for farmworker and other low-income families.

The NoVo Foundation was founded in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett with a mission to foster a transformation in global society from a culture of domination and exploitation to one of equality and partnership. The Foundation supports the development of capacities in people – individually and collectively – to help create a caring and balanced world that operates on the principles of mutual respect, collaboration and civic participation.

In a joint statement, Peter Buffett and Buntzman said the lack of safe, affordable housing is a primary factor in perpetuating the cycle of poverty in Immokalee.

“We are extremely grateful to the NoVo Foundation for its gift,” said Buntzman. “We hope the foundation’s generosity will inspire others to help us meet our goal of building affordable rental housing, strengthening the community by fostering health, education, dignity and financial stability.”

Many farmworkers and other low-income families in Immokalee are currently living in overcrowded and dilapidated shacks and trailers, with holes in the floor and walls, persistent mold, non-working toilets or appliances, and a lack of air conditioning. Some families are paying 50% or more of their income on rent, leaving little for food, medical services, child care and other services most would consider necessities.

Buffett stated that the foundation was impressed with the background and expertise of IFHA principles and the progress that has been made to date.

“The plan to have residents participate in management decisions regarding the property fits well with the NoVo Foundation mission,” he said.

The Alliance has purchased 10 acres of property on Lake Trafford Road in Immokalee, designed a housing complex of 128 rental units and a community center, obtained approvals and permits, and broken ground. As a federally designated 501(c)(3), IFHA has no profit motive and will pay limited real estate taxes. The community will be self-supporting with rents no more than 30% of a family’s income.

The first of eight rental buildings planned for the project is scheduled to be completed in mid 2023.

“We are building a community where families and their children can thrive and grow,” Buntzman said. “The community support we are receiving will help us add wraparound services for medical care, early childhood education, and after school learning and homework help, as well as English language, financial literacy and legal assistance.”

About the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance

The Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) created in 2018 by a group of concerned citizens who saw the damage done by Hurricane Irma to already substandard trailers and shacks rented by farmworker and other low-income families in Immokalee. The IFHA vision is for these families to have access to secure, affordable, hurricane-resistant rental housing, which will strengthen the community by fostering health, education, dignity and financial stability. The organization has embarked on a project to create community awareness and raise funds for a 128-rental unit complex in Immokalee. For more information, please visit ImmokaleeFairHousing.org.