If the lack of affordable housing in the Middle Keys was bad prior to landfall of Hurricane Irma last month, it’s worse now.
That was the theme behind discussions at Tuesday’s Marathon City Council meeting about what the city can do for a community where many people now have nowhere to live.
“We’re sitting here on the verge of a possible paradigm shift of our entire community,” Councilman John Bartus said about the housing crisis that has worsened following the worst storm in the Florida Keys in 57 years.
There are some travel trailers available for temporary housing through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Keys survivors, but where those trailers will be put still has to be determined. They need to be hooked up to water, sewer and power, and even then the trailers are only a stop-gap solution, said City Manager Chuck Lindsey.
“We’re just starting these conversations with FEMA,” he said. “We’re not saying that the trailers aren’t coming, but they don’t come quick.”
Planning Director George Garrett said last he knew, there were about 225 FEMA travel trailers in Monroe County so far and Lindsey said answers from FEMA should be available by the end of next week. The trailers being temporary presents a challenge, he said.
People who make up what Councilwoman Michelle Coldiron called the “backbone of the community,” service-industry workers, bankers, teachers, police officers and those in the fishing industry, need affordable housing most, she said.
In recent months, the council talked about putting affordable housing units behind the city’s new 104th Street utilities building. Originally, 20 units, or 10 duplexes, were going to go on the 2.4-acre oceanside plot nearest mile marker 52.5. The new utilities building takes up 1.2 acres.
Tuesday, council members decided to put out a request for proposals from developers who might want to buy the land from the city and develop it on their own. The city’s project was going to target home ownership for the units, but that could change under a developer. It would also expedite the process, making affordable units ready for people to live in much quicker, officials said.
The request for proposals will require the developer to plan to build 20 affordable housing units for those in the 80 to 100 percent median annual income range.
The median annual income in Monroe County is $64,400 for a single person or $98,133 for a couple. That means the units will be designated for rent by single people making $51,520 to $64,400 a year or a couple making $78,506 to $98,133 a year.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219