It’s official, the Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties and Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation’s (RMSFF) $175,000 challenge grant is complete. We initially launched this challenge in October of 2020, which was granted to us thanks to RMSFF’s special interest in supporting Lee County organizations that help families move toward self-sufficiency. This particular grant was initiated to fund the development of an affordable Habitat for Humanity neighborhood we’re developing in Bonita Springs.
Through the “challenge” structure of this grant, local philanthropists, businesses, and community members were asked to step forward with their own generous donations, matching Schulze’s $175,000 contribution. In total, 27 donations were inspired by this challenge, one such gift coming from long-time Habitat supporters, Ron and Carol Sperling. “Our ability to deliver affordable housing in the Bonita Springs community is really focal to our giving,” says Ron. “This matching grant provided the cornerstone for us to develop the land quickly, and then move it into the next phase which would be to start building homes for our community.”
Now that the challenge is officially complete, we’ve collected a grand total of $350,000 to put towards the development of a planned, twin villa neighborhood in partnership with 14 Bonita Springs families in need of a decent and affordable place to live. This affordable neighborhood will be located on a plot of land that we purchased on Carolina Street in September 2020. “The land itself is located near downtown Bonita Springs, in a part of town that really makes sense for Habitat homebuyers, which was important to us,” Ron continues. “Plus, it was a matching grant and that’s part of what motivated us to donate.”
With the necessary funds now officially secured, the development of this land is slated to begin in March of 2022. “There’s a critical need for affordable housing in Bonita Springs,” says Vince Modarelli, Habitat’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to expanding home affordability, and for now, Habitat for Humanity’s future is more firmly secured in areas where the need remains greatest.”
In addition to the Carolina Street property, our organization owns lots on New Moon Court and Streetsboro Lane in Bonita Springs. With our current land inventory, we are poised to provide affordable homes in Bonita Springs through 2025. “Every day, we at Habitat see firsthand the critical role decent housing plays in creating positive outcomes for our local community,” says Modarelli. “If we are to continue expanding home affordability in Bonita Springs, we need partners to materialize who can help identify and acquire more land.”
In addition to the need for financial support and volunteerism, “we need voices to tell Habitat’s success story to those who can help through policy,” Modarelli says.