In September 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed or majorly damaged more than 7 percent of the homes in the Keys. A lot of those were ground level and mobile homes — what passes for affordable housing on the island chain.
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to Marathon to announce a new state program that will provide $140 million for affordable workforce housing.
"This has been a problem in recent years anyway, but the recent storms Irma and Michael have exacerbated the problem so this will be an important step in the recovery process," DeSantis said.
Out of that money, $35 million is set aside for the Keys. Department of Economic Opportunity Director Ken Lawson says the state will start soliciting applications for the money on July 1.
"I already have the money. The money's in my pocket — I'm ready to write a check," Lawson said.
The applications will be administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
DeSantis also announced Thursday that the state is sending Monroe County $21 million in reimbursement for debris clean-up costs after Irma. The money was approved by FEMA earlier this month.
Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said the money would arrive in the Keys "next week," which came as welcome news in Monroe County, which took a $40 million line of credit to pay for hurricane expenses while waiting for reimbursement from the federal and state governments.