“There is nowhere else we would rather be than here in Marathon,” said Jessica Schroeder, sitting on a porch swing with her husband Paul in their new home. Their adopted Florida Keys SPCA dog, Coconut, ran around wagging his tail in his new very large back yard. “Our first mortgage payment is almost due and we couldn’t be more excited.”

The two pointed out rental townhouses within eyesight. “The rent over there is $2,000 a month; we looked. We are paying that now, but we own it. It’s ours.”

The newlyweds were one of 10 families who were chosen for the City of Marathon’s first-time homebuyer grant program, which gave them $10,000 toward their home. “It helped with closing costs, everything,” she said. “We wouldn’t have been able to buy this without it.”

Jessica works at Marathon General Aviation six days a week, and part-time twice a week at Avis and Budget, renting cars. Paul has been with Lifetime Dock and Lumber for nine years. The Marathon City Council reinstated the home-buying program to help local families in the purchase of a home, or provide down payment funds to qualifying families whose primary income is earned in Marathon. The grant carries no interest, requires no monthly payments, and provides forgiveness at 30 years.

“After speaking with some of the families we assisted, this is one of the things I am most proud of,” said Marathon City Councilman Steve Cook. The ordinance was passed unanimously among the council to allocate another $100,000 this year.

With tears in her eyes, Jessica told the story of the 400-square-foot singlewide trailer they called home for the past few years – definitely not enough space for their 12-year-old daughter Kaya. “It wasn’t a good fit for us,” she said, while showing off the new house, at 1,100 square feet. “We are pretty proud of this.”

Applications are continuously coming in for the first-time homebuyers program. Ten applicants will be chosen throughout the year for the $10,000 grant toward their new home. Homes have to be located in the City of Marathon, primary income must be earned in Marathon, but applicants can apply if they live between Big Pine Key to Conch Key. For more information and to see the applications, visit www.ci.marathon.fl.us.

“Honest to God, we never fathomed we would be able to own a place here in the Keys,” said Paul. “We couldn’t have done it without the city’s grant.”

Marathon is working hard to chip away at our affordability challenges and this program is a great example that we are not going to just keep talking about it, we’re going do something. This grant helps with the path to homeownership, allowing our families to deepen their roots here, and for that we are so proud.” — Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey



Kaya, 12, shows off her new room, with her own bathroom. She’s a junior cadet for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Explorer program. Her favorite part of the new house: the very cold air-conditioning.


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