Close to one year ago, the Florida Keys was hit by Hurricane Irma, a storm that left many of the area's homes in ruins. In particular, trailers at ground level and older buildings that couldn’t withstand the storm surge and 120 mile-per-hour winds were wiped out.
CityLab's Nicole Javorsky says the storm exacerbated an already problematic affordability crisis.
“The affordable housing was extremely vulnerable, so when the storm surge came in, the houses that were housing a lot of the workforce were destroyed,” said designer Marianne Cusato. According to Monroe County data, Irma destroyed 473 homes on Big Pine Key—the most of any Key—and damaged 1,538. Three months after the storm hit, the Miami Herald reported that some Big Pine Key residents were still living in tents.
On lots that Monroe County purchased and will lease back to the Florida Keys Community Land Trust for 99 years, the trust is building four new cottages that are engineered to withstand 200 mile-per-hour winds and are elevated 12 feet—one foot above the required base flood elevation. The trust finished construction on the first cottage earlier this month. The other three will be ready this fall, and five more homes are expected to be finished by the end of January, all on Big Pine Key. They were designed by Cusato, who led a similar project in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
The initial four cottages, built for $199,000 each (through a mix of public and nonprofit funding), measure 760 square feet and have two bedrooms and one bath. Monthly rent will be capped at $1,588—80 percent of area median income).Read More