Ft. Myers, Florida
Lee County Community Assessment
Because of the success of the Neighborhood S.A.F.E. program in California, Marin Family Action's projects have been duplicated in Lee County, Florida.
The Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida has adopted a public health approach for reducing underage drinking and substance abuse related problems in Lee County.
This model recognizes that no institution or organization alone can address these issues; it is only through strong community support and partnerships that we will be able to create sustainable community-wide change. This initiative brings together information from a wide range of sources regarding the nature of substance abuse in our community, the factors that contribute to substance abuse in Lee County, and the costs and consequences of substance abuse to our community. The goal of this process is to create a shared vision and a community strategic plan to address the issues that are specific to the needs of Lee County.
Lee County is located in Southwest Florida. Forty-four miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico defines the county’s western and southern borders. It encompasses 1,212 square miles, which consists of 804 square miles of land and 408 square miles of water. The county includes a mix of both urban and rural communities.
There are six incorporated municipalities in Lee County: Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Sanibel, and Fort Myers Beach. Estero became an incorporated city in early 2015.
The educational attainment of the community’s population is an important component of the overall health and wellness of a community. Educational attainment helps shape ones future occupational opportunities and earning potential. Higher levels of educational attainment provide improved access to information and opportunities that lead to better health and wellness outcomes. Lack of educational attainment is a risk factor for less desirable behavioral, health, and wellness outcomes.
Lee County’s “snowbird” population is often overlooked as it is not captured in most population statistics. These temporary residents from northern states migrate annually to Lee County and stay, on average, about five or six months out of the year. They are estimated to increase the county’s population by 22% during season. This population tends to be healthier, better off financially, less racially and ethnically diverse, and to have a higher education level than Lee County’s year-round population. A University of Florida study estimated that nearly 64% of these temporary residents were ages 55 and older. They primarily come from the northeastern states and the eastern states of the Midwest.
Lee County also receives 5.0 million visitors a year which are also not reflected in population statistics. Their average age is 52. They have an average family income of $106,200. They stay in Lee County, on average, nine days. Eight to nine out of ten visitors say that the purpose of their visit to Lee County is to vacation and to relax. Although they are in Lee County for a short period of time, 88% reported that they were likely to return to Lee County. 71% of visitors surveyed had been to Lee County before. Repeat visitors averaged about 5 trips to Lee County in the past 5 years. Approximately one-half stay in paid accommodations and the other half stay with friends or family. As with the “snowbird” population, the vacationing visitors to Lee County are primarily from the Midwest and the Northeast.