The Marathon City Council might have a packed audience 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when it meets at the Marathon Government Center.
Longtime Marathon residents Mary Micire and Lisa Vaccaro urge other locals to attend and let the City Council know they're facing unsustainable rents.
"The last three places that I've lived have been sold as vacation rentals," said Micire, who moved to Marathon in 2004. "I'm tired of living in substandard housing for the amount of money we pay for rent."
Micire said she has to move from her current home because her landlord is selling it for $300,000, far out of her price range. As of Tuesday, she'd collected 153 signatures and eight letters to present to the City Council from people who feel there's not enough being done to keep rent affordable.
"The signatures are to get City Council to do something. Put a cap on the vacation rentals. Quit making us live in substandard housing. It's not all about money; we're all entitled to live here no matter what class income you are."
In September 2014, the City Council created a housing committee to tackle the issue. It reviewed a study conducted by Florida International University of Marathon's housing stock and possible ways to increase the affordability. Possible solutions will be presented to the council Tuesday.
But for many residents, the study and housing committee are too late.
"I'm really disappointed in the greed down here. You need workers and they're not doing anything to keep us with housing," said Anneliese Hart, who moved to the Middle Keys from western Michigan 15 years ago. "My boyfriend Ron and I had to come up with $5,400 to move into a new place. That's a lot of money to put up."
Cheryl "Dusty" Briones and her husband Fernando moved to the Middle Keys in 1992. They've been looking for affordable housing since July and aren't able to find anything cheaper than $2,000 a month.
"I think the City Council is all for themselves as long as they can make a buck," Briones said. "I've had so many friends move away in the past eight years. We're 56 and 57 years old; we've lived over half our lives in this town. I feel betrayed."
Micire, Hart and the Briones said city leaders don't care.
"Everyone's greedy here, especially the City Council," Hart said. "Everyone is being bussed in from Homestead. They've turned this into South Beach. They ruined the Keys, all these rich people."