Last day to apply for county to buy your damaged home – Keys have $10 million to spend on buyout program - A person standing in front of a building - Carlos Curbelo

Can’t take it any more? Want to wash your hands of the whole affair — your storm-wrecked home — and walk away? Monroe County has a program for that. 

“The purpose of the program is to reduce community risk,” said the county’s Helene Wetherington. 

The program targets homes with repetitive damage, in low-income areas, that house the elderly (62 years or older) or young children (18 years or younger). The county negotiates a deal, buys the home, and then demolishes it to leave the lot vacant.

Homeowners are encouraged to apply for the county’s Volunteer Home Buyout Program, part of the Rebuild Florida program funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Throughout the state, there’s $75 million, and $10 million has been set aside for properties damaged by Hurricane Irma. Each jurisdiction in the Keys — unincorporated Monroe County, Marathon, Key West, Islamorada — can apply for no more that $5 million. The initial application must be submitted by Tuesday, July 30.

If approved, and the homeowner accepts the offer price, the home would be demolished and the building right, or ROGO, would revert to the county. The purchase price would be a fair market value for the land and structure pre-Irma. (If a homeowner wants to rebuild, then they need to be an applicant in the Rebuild Florida Repair, Reconstruction, Elevation program being run by state Department of Economic Opportunity.)

“What is the logic there?” asked Monroe County Commissioner David Rice. “It’s almost like we are rewarding the irresponsible property owners.”

Commissioner Heather Carruthers agreed, but said the county’s slice of the program would probably only amount to about 10 homes that would qualify.

Wetherington said the properties would be ranked using the following criteria:

• Low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.

• Household income at or below 80% of the annual median income.

• Households that include the elderly, or children; or households with disabled, handicapped or special needs members.

• Homes in the V flood zone (coastal).

• Properties with reported repetitive loss.

• Homes with no flood insurance at the time of damage (although homes with flood insurance are also eligible).

The resulting vacant space of the raised homes could then be used for conservation, recreation or storm water management. 

Wetherington said that as of July 22, 14 property owners have expressed interest in the buyout program.

To apply, visit and search “Irma Housing Grants and Programs.”



Marathon residents:
If you are interested in selling a Marathon property, please contact the City of Marathon, Planning Department obtain and sign the “Voluntary Acknowledge Form” required by the State of Florida. If you previously completed the interest form with Monroe County, indicating your interest in voluntary home buyout, please obtain and re-sign a current version of the form from the City. A public meeting will be held regarding the program on Monday, Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marathon City Council meeting to be held on that date.  For more information about the program, contact [email protected].

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