Islamorada Allocates for Affordable Housing - A hand holding a video game - Real Estate

Aside from the state’s 300 allocations, only 36 units are left designated for affordable housing in the village of Islamorada.

Mark Gregg, Achievable Housing Citizens’ Advisory Committee member, came before council recently to discuss how to go about using units from the state. Gregg told council members there are about 90-plus units applying for the remaining allocations for affordable housing.

“I’m sure (council) will handle that and there will be allocations to come from the 300 that will cover that, and that’s good news,” Gregg said. “Once those (allocations) are all used up, there will be no regular allocations for affordable housing, only the 300 special ones from the state.”

Through discussion, the advisory committee is recommending to council to set aside the existing 36 allocations the village has for those who want to build, be an owner, and live in the house. Gregg said someone who’s had a lot for a number of years and wants to build a unit for himself or family won’t be able to if the 36 allocations are gone. The 300 allocations the state’s providing are available for rental. They also must be multi-family.

From larger apartment complexes to duplexes and tri-plexes, Gregg told council members that not all affordable and workforce units are the same. Gregg said the advisory committee felt it would be equitable for council to set aside a certain number of the 300 units for small-scale development. Gregg said two to three larger developments could gobble up the vast majority of the 300.

“It happens to be a fact those larger ones can take advantage of tax credit financing, which is practically unusable by the smaller scale,” he said.

Gregg said the committee also felt it was important to reserve some units for local investors as opposed to outside investors. During his time on council, Gregg said, someone came to speak to them and said that every dollar spent in the village for rent turns over seven times before it leaves.

“Someone who pays rent to an out-of-town landlord, that doesn’t happen,” he said. “We felt that was an important community benefit that we should focus on and take into consideration when deciding what to do and how to allocate the 300 units.”

As for onsite maintenance that’s required for the state’s 300 units, Gregg said the committee is recommending a waiver or an alternative for small-scale development. For someone with a duplex or tri-plex, Gregg said, it’s not feasible to have onsite management, but an owner could have someone in the village or a professional rental agent to address a problem.

Gregg also mentioned Key West’s fractional units. The village’s max size unit is 1,500 square feet. If someone wants to develop a one-bed 500- to 700-square-foot unit, there may be interest at council level to consider a fractional unit.

“If someone only wants to build 750 (square feet), maybe they only have to have half of an allocation,” he said. “That’s one consideration. That might have a special and an important benefit for those wanting to build an accessory dwelling unit should you go in that direction as well.”

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