Mobile home destroyed on Big Pine Key by Hurricane Irma's winds and storm surge.
Artist rendition of elevated, code-compliant tiny home being built in the Keys.
Hurricane Irma struck the Keys on Sept. 10, 2017 as a category 4 hurricane. No part of the Keys was spared, although Marathon and the Lower Keys from Mile Marker 16 to 40 were hit the hardest.
Approximate Damage Assessment Results
The Approximate Damage Assessment Results from Hurricane Irma detail 1,179 homes were destroyed throughout the Keys, and another 2,977 homes suffered major damage of the 55,000 housing units in the Keys.
Of these numbers, the hardest-hit areas were the mobile homes, manufactured homes and RVs. The approximate damage assessment results for these type of homes include 378 suffering major damage and 666 destroyed.
As a condition to the County being in the National Flood Insurance Program, which assures homeowners are eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance, the County must adopt local regulations consistent with FEMA federal regulations. This means structures damaged more than 50 percent of the market value are considered substantially damaged and must be rebuilt to current building and flood codes. This is to assure the same structures will not be damaged in a future storm.
In unincorporated Monroe County, approximately 727 homes were destroyed and another 1,034 homes are considered to have substantial damage, bringing the total number of homes that need to be rebuilt to 1,761.
Monroe County Housing Task Force
Within a week of Hurricane Irma striking the Keys, Monroe County created a Housing Task Force that includes municipal, state and federal partners to deal first with emergency housing and now with long-term housing recovery strategies.
This task force developed a Monroe County Housing Strategy document that communicates the County and municipalities priorities for future grant programs with state and federal partners.
The task force included the County, members from each of the Keys’ five municipalities, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and several branches of FEMA. Officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the States’ Emergency Management also participated.
BOCC Special Meeting on Housing Recovery Strategies
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held a special meeting on Nov. 29, 2017 to address Housing Recovery Strategies. View the presentation.
The BOCC directed staff to further investigate upcoming grant opportunities and to look at all our options for housing recovery, which may include funding to elevate and/or harden existing residential structures by retro-fitting structures with hurricane shutters, impact windows, metal roofs and reinforced trusses. Other grant opportunities that staff will investigate include purchasing land and damaged units in special flood hazard areas to eliminate future risk and expense of rebuilding
The BOCC also discussed in detail and directed staff to work further on Comprehensive Plan amendments that would be effective for two years to accelerate the workforce housing for storm recovery. The Board directed additional density bonuses, which allow more units in an area, for workforce housing for the lowest income groups: very low, low and median.
The Board directed changes to the development review procedures for workforce housing projects to help them move faster through the process to get to the construction phase.
To this end, the BOCC directed staff to call for community meetings to be held within 30 to 60 days, instead of the current 45 to 120 days.
For text amendments, BOCC directed staff to eliminate the concept meeting with staff and the pre-BOCC impact meeting, also to speed up the process.
The BOCC discussed changing the ratio distribution of Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO) allocations. They currently are about 50/50, with 50 percent moderate and the other 50 percent a combined very low, low and median. The BOCC discussed a 25/75 ratio with 25 percent moderate and the remaining 75 percent a combined very low, low and median.
All of these proposed changes are to help accelerate recovery. None are in effect yet. They must all go through the public process to get adopted.
The Board also heard the current federal, state and local regulations regarding mobile home and manufactured units – and the code requirements regarding where, when and at what height they can be rebuilt.
These regulations and code requirements need to be enforced in order for Monroe County to remain in the National Flood Insurance Program.
REBUILD FLORIDA: Repair, replace and elevate damaged homes
Rebuild Florida is a state-run program with federal funding through the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) and County support. Florida is slated to receive $616 million in the first round. This money will help qualified families or residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Irma repair or rebuild their homes. It also is available for property owners who rent to qualified households. $90 Million has been set aside for the Florida Keys in the first round. Click Rebuild Florida for eligibility requirements and more information.
TINY HOMES: Building stronger and safer
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved in December 2018 the building of four “Tiny Homes” to serve as code-compliant models for residents who are rebuilding after losing their mobile homes during Hurricane Irma. The County solicited vendor proposals to design and build four different resilient code compliant prototype Tiny homes on County-owned land. These replacement homes will be safer and better suited to survive future storms. For more information, click Tiny Homes.
FEMA TEMPORARY TRAVEL TRAILER AND DIRECT LEASING UPDATE
FEMA's Direct Temporary Housing Program for Hurricane Irma ended March 10, 2019 - a year and a half after the storm struck on Sept. 10, 2017.
By January 10, 2019, End of Program letters will be delivered to the remaining occupants reminding them that the term of the Direct Housing Assistance is ending on March 10, 2019, and that the occupant should find more permanent housing by that date.
As of Dec. 26, 2018, there are 63 households living in FEMA temporary trailers in the Keys and 12 households living in FEMA direct-leased properties. This is down from the original 243 households (215 in travel trailers and 28 in direct-leased properties) who have stayed temporarily in housing supplied by FEMA.