Key West City Commissioner Mary Lou Hoover, left, and City Manager Patti McLauchlin discuss the importance of a Jan. 18 voter referendum that will allow affordable housing to be built at Truman Waterfront.

Housing was the hot topic of the Nov. 16 Key West Chamber of Commerce members’ lunch at the Marriott Beachside Hotel.

Key West City Manager Patti McLauchlin reminded the membership of the Jan. 18 voter referendum in the city limits that would enable the city and a developer to build workforce housing on the last 3.2 acres at Truman Waterfront. Voters will be asked to approve a 99-year lease of that land, free of charge, for the housing. Affordable housing would not be possible if the developer also has to pay to acquire the land beneath the housing.

“Without a 99-year lease of that land, I don’t believe affordable housing will be possible there,” McLauchlin said. 

Then Peter Batty, spokesman for the Key West Housing Authority, discussed the history of Key West’s housing organization, its current projects and future priorities.

The authority recently moved the nine residents of the aging Bayshore Manor assisted-living facility into the much newer Poinciana Gardens facility and has plans to renovate and/or replace many of the public housing units that it operates in Key West.

“A society that doesn’t take care of its sick, aging and elderly is no society at all,” Batty said.

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