3 To Know: Affordable housing, Publix sales rise

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Overview of affordable housing community in Immokalee that is being spearheaded by the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation

1. Affordable housing eyed for Immokalee

An affordable housing project in Immokalee that is being spearheaded by the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation could involve 200 or more homes.

Details of the proposal were presented recently to the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on the heels of a rezoning application submitted in early January to Collier County, said Andrew Van Valin, senior manager of acquisitions, development and special projects for the Foundation.

The site is 50 acres at the northeast corner of Carson Road and Westclox Street that is owned by Barron Collier Partnership and is under contract to purchase when the rezoning is finalized, Van Valin said. The location is northwest of downtown Immokalee off State Road 29.

The rural farmworking community is home to 27,000 residents with roughly 32% living in poverty; the median household income in 2021 was $40,114, according to U.S. Census data.

The lack of affordable and safe housing is a longstanding issue, especially when 15,000 migrant workers return for the fall and winter harvest season for the $4 billion agriculture industry in Collier. Multiple families will share substandard mobile homes.

Based in Boca Raton, the Foundation was established by Pulte Homes founder William J. Pulte, who died in 2018 in Naples. It is a separate entity that is not affiliated with any other organization that uses the Pulte name. – Liz Freeman/Staff

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2. New COVID cases dropping

Florida’s COVID caseload has fallen nearly to pre-winter surge levels and hospitalizations are nearly there. Here’s what the latest data show:

  • 11,514 new infections last week, much lower than the nearly 18,000 recorded last week and the fewest since the week ending Nov. 3. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • 1,268 hospital patients — the fewest since Nov. 27. (Source: Health and Human Services Department)

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to fulfill a promise he made in January 2022 to differentiate between people who get hospitalized because of COVID and those who test positive while in the hospital for another reason.

Such data would give a more accurate picture of the disease’s severity. – Chris Persaud/Staff

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3. Publix says sales rose by $6.5B over 2021

Publix’s sales last year rose to $54.5 billion compared to $48 billion in 2021, and its stock price nudged upward to $14.55 per share, a company press release said.

The latest figures represent a 13.6% increase in sales compared to 2021.

An exterior shot from opening day at the new ‘Big’ Publix on Marco Island.

Comparable store sales also increased by 9.9%. for the fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, “due to the impact of inflation on product costs,” the company reported to its annual 10-K Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Food purchased at supermarkets increased 0.8% from December 2022 to January 2023 and was 11.3% higher than January 2022, according to the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

While inflation at higher end grocery stores such as Publix has resulted in less foot traffic in stores, consumer “shopping patterns as opposed to an overall decline in demand” has kept sales higher in this retail category, according to an update from Placer.ai, which tracks consumer data.

Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets Inc. also reported that fourth quarter sales rose significantly by 22% compared to the same period in 2021. – Paul Nutcher/Staff