The Esslinger Heights Complex is the latest development by the Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys. CONTRIBUTED

On Feb. 21, the Monroe County Land Authority governing board approved the purchase of new sites to redevelop affordable homeownership units in Tavernier and Key Largo. 

The county will own and lease the sites to Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys to redevelop them, consistent with the neighborhood character. 

“This assures long-term affordability in perpetuity,” said David Rice, Monroe County Land Authority chairman and county commissioner.

One of the projects is near MM 92 in Tavernier. The site will be redeveloped into six new affordable units to replace dilapidated trailers that previously occupied the property. The second two sites are in Key Largo on Hibiscus Lane near MM 101, where two replacement homes will be constructed. 

“I am very excited about this project since sites appropriate for the development of affordable housing are hard to find in the Upper Keys,” said Christine Hurley, Monroe County Land Authority executive director. “The land authority can buy land for affordable housing without established, protected habitat, so finding sites with previous development, ready for redevelopment, is a priority.”

Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys is the development partner that works with local families to pay no more than 30% of their income on housing. Recently, Habitat developed four affordable housing units at Esslinger Heights in Tavernier and is working on eight units at Gardenia Place across from Plantation Key School, plus another two affordable single-family homes in Key Largo.

“These eight units will increase homeownership opportunities for families who live and work in the Florida Keys and provide a step up for their future,” said Lindsay Fast, Habitat executive director. “We are so appreciative of the support from the Monroe County Land Authority to continue our mission of building affordable housing.”