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Bonita & Estero Magazine

Grant Funds Development of Affordable Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood in Bonita Springs

Ron Sperling and his wife, Carol, longtime volunteers and donors. They solicit and collect Habitat donations from their friends and neighbors every year. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.

In early spring 2021, the Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation completed the Schulze family foundation $175,000 challenge grant that was launched in October 2020. The foundation helps local families move toward self-sufficiency, and the grant was initiated to fund the development of an affordable Habitat for Humanity neighborhood in Bonita Springs.

As a part of the challenge, local philanthropists, businesses, and community members were asked to step forward with donations, matching Schulze’s $175,000 contribution. In total, 27 donors contributed.

“Our ability to deliver affordable housing in the Bonita Springs community is really focal to our giving,” said one of those donors, Ron Sperling. “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.”

Habitat has received a grand total of $350,000 to put toward the development of its planned, twin villa neighborhood in partnership with 14 Bonita Springs families in need of decent and afford­able places to live. The neighborhood will be located on a plot of land that Habitat for Humanity 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,” Sperling said. “Plus, it was a matching grant and that’s part of what motivated us to donate.”

Habitat plans to begin developing the property in March 2022.

“There’s a critical need for affordable housing in Bonita Springs,” said 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, Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties owns lots on New Moon Court and Streetsboro Lane in Bonita Springs. With its current land inventory, Habitat is 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,” said 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.”

Information and photo courtesy of the Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties.