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Keys leaders OK building ‘tiny homes’ to show Irma’s victims an option for new housing

An artist rendering shows a “tiny house” on stilts set to be built on Big Coppitt Key.
An artist rendering shows a “tiny house” on stilts set to be built on Big Coppitt Key. Monroe County

As part of the Florida Keys’ recovery from Hurricane Irma, Monroe County leaders Wednesday approved the construction of four “tiny houses,” which will serve as models for residents who are rebuilding after the Category 4 storm.

The tiny houses, which range from 340 to 1,012 square feet, will be built on Ramrod, Cudjoe and Big Coppitt Keys and Key Largo.

Irma, which struck Sept. 10, 2017, destroyed or severely damaged more than 4,000 homes throughout the Keys. Many of those were mobile homes, “which provided affordable/workforce housing,” said county spokeswoman Cammy Clark.

After the model phase is complete, the four homes will be made available to county employees, Clark said.

The idea is to show people they can replace their homes with affordable tiny houses. They could get grant money available through the state to pay a contractor to build the houses on properties people already own, county staff told county commissioners Wednesday.

The commission, which met Wednesday in Key Largo, unanimously approved the item with little discussion.

“I want to say thank you to all of you,” Bill Hunter, a resident of Sugarloaf Key, told the commission and staff. “This is good stuff.”

Key Largo tiny home W.jpg
This tiny home, in an artist’s rendering, is planned to be built in Key Largo. Monroe County

The county chose four single-family home designs that will cost a total of $656,496 to build on county-owned land. The plans are as follows:

On Ramrod Key, RAS Building Commissioning and Restoration will construct a 640-square-foot metal box modular two-bedroom, one-bathroom home on a vacant lot on West Indies Drive. The cost is $153,600.

On Cudjoe Key, Advanced Construction Technologies will build a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,1012-square-foot home on a vacant lot on First Avenue behind the sheriff’s office substation. The cost is $189,699.

On Big Coppitt Key, Cypress Community Development Corp. will build a factory-constructed wood frame house. The two-bedroom, one-bath, 760-square-foot home will be built on a vacant lot at 28 Emerald Dr. next to the fire station. The cost is $212,000.

In Key Largo, Cornerstone Design Build Inc. will build a wood frame structure pre-made in a factory. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 360-square-foot home will be built on a vacant lot at 39 Jenny Ln. The cost is $101,197.

The Dutch and French Caribbean island was hit hard by Irma as a Category 5 hurricane, leaving St. Martin without power or water, and much of its buildings destroyed.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.

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