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New Florida Keys Cottages Are Storm-Proof Affordable Housing

After the destruction of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Keys Community Land Trust started building affordable cottages that can withstand the next storm.
The first Keys cottage unveiled on August 16.
The first Keys cottage unveiled on August 16. Nick Doll Photography/Wonder Studios

The Florida Keys are known for their appeal to tourists eager to escape to Margaritaville and fish or snorkel in turquoise waters. Like other tourist destinations, the Keys—a string of islands off the southern tip of Florida—require workers to staff their restaurants, hotels, and glass-bottom boats.

Big Pine Key is a bedroom community where many people who live and work in the Keys year-round reside. The island between Key West and Marathon, Big Pine Key has a population of over 4,000. Monroe County, encompassing all the Keys, has a permanent population of slightly over 73,000. The median monthly rent in Monroe County is $3,500, according to Zillow—too expensive for much of the county’s workforce. (The median household income in the county is $60,000.)