Hurricane Irma wiped out affordable housing in the Keys

Repair costs are expected to jack up home prices and rents

Seabreeze Trailer Park in Islamorada (Credit: Getty Images)
Seabreeze Trailer Park in Islamorada (Credit: Getty Images)

The already limited supply of affordable housing in the Florida Keys is in jeopardy following Hurricane Irma.

As of November, more than 1,800 homes in the Keys were destroyed and 3,000 more had major damage, according to estimates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Any home or trailer with more than 50 percent damage must be rebuilt to new, higher standards. That means the working-class neighborhoods that took the hardest hit from Irma, like Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key, will need to be rebuilt, the Miami Herald reported. The cost of repairing and elevating homes anywhere from three feet to 16 feet can cost thousands of dollars and is expected to send home prices and rents soaring.

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Monroe County Mayor David Rice expects a home that he rents for $1,200 a month to increase in price because of repair costs, according to the Herald. “They’re not going to be affordable when you put the kind of money into them it’s going to take to get them back online,” he said at a commission meeting.

Some residents with uninhabitable homes are staying in hotels. About 430 families are living in hotel rooms paid for by FEMA, but vouchers are set to run run out next month, according to the Herald. In South Florida, a number of hotels offered discounted rates in the immediate days following the hurricane.

The Florida Housing Coalition also plans to build modular homes that are hurricane proof and energy efficient. [Miami Herald] – Amanda Rabines