Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Housing: Affordable And Not

Clearly I am getting to feel better as I have started to take a fresh interest in the pages of the daily paper, and I am well enough nowadays to stagger downstairs to pick up the neatly folded newsprint tossed in my driveway. Oh dear what do we find? More stories about the abominable state of housing in the Southernmost City. And judging by a couple of stories on the front page tonight's city commission meeting could make things, at best, no better, and  at worst, no worse. 
The first chunk of housing involves a development on Caroline Street with expensive town homes under construction (see above from the front page of yesterday's paper). The question there is whether or not the homes should be permitted to rent for less than 28 days at a time. The city limits short term rentals, the idea being to preserve residential neighborhoods rather than turning them all into party central for a week at a  time...However in neither case are these multi million dollar homes going to be rented as workforce housing, it seems to me. The question is more one of helping to encourage sales to people who one day might like to live in Key West  but want to buy these town homes to use as rentals in the meantime which does the housing market no particular good. This issue highlights the difficulty of home ownership in Key West that is often masked by ridiculous prices combined with lack of amenity. You buy a home and end up with your neighbors being vacationers up till all hours splashing in the pool, playing music and being rowdy after a night's drinking on Duval Yay! That's what Key West is all about! When you've paid through the nose for your home this sort of behavior can render you pretty testy
The other housing development planned for the city is a collection of ten manufactured homes to be built on stilts on Flagler Avenue at 11th Street on a piece of land essentially cleared by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Apparently one city commissioner of glorious but short memory wanted a city park but developers have been arguing over the parcel and now it seems these manufactured homes will sell for $800,000 apiece with a chunk of the land remaining undeveloped and "preserved." These three bedroom wonders don't exactly qualify as worker housing either at those prices. The best part is the city gets a whole $15,000 tribute for affordable housing funding from each home. As you might imagine around here  $150,000 won't go far to assuage the need for affordable homes. The best part about this development for me is the security wall and electronic fence that is planned to keep the ravening hordes of homeless at bay. The Catholic Soup Kitchen is next door...The Enclave will be a secure fortress, safe from the poor.
If there were any doubts about Key West's commitment to affordable housing, let them be dispelled at once. Even in my feverish state this appears just to be more lopsided fuzzy thinking from a leadership class that has not one spark of thoughtful creativity.