Feb 062015
 

An investigation into Key West’s affordable housing crisis shows the City’s been taken for a ride by some unscrupulous developers.

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Arnaud and Naja Girard

Arnaud and Naja Girard, owners and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.


 February 6, 2015  Posted by at 1:15 am * Featured Story *, Issue #100, MOST POPULAR ONE  Add comments

  8 Responses to “Affordable Housing Crisis: Key West’s Most Colorful Abandon Ship While Developers Take City For a Ride…”

  1. Great report, Naja and Arnaud. Losing our marquee juggler! And no enforcement. I hope this report adds momentum for what our commissioners, especially Teri and Tony, are trying to do right now to construct more affordable housing. It took 7 years for the old fairgrounds to become the Roosevelt housing, but it finally got done, so it is possible.

  2. Reading Boetger article here and watching the video reminds me of how the City preferred to pass on acquiring Peary Court which has 167 units now that are slated to be torn down for the rich and famous or whatever new development may land there.,.They did not have the cojones to fight the new DEO when it suddenly reversed its proactive position on affordable housing and said anything’s ok with us. The city wanted tax revenue as if that would make the workforce housing problem better. Course they weren’t told about the sale to Balfour beatty by the Navy and did not really have the foresight to see it right under their noses.- we should have been able to buy it, but the game was rigged.

  3. Who is going to clean the snow bird’s third homes? Who is going to serve the drinks and food? Who is going to fix their tricycles? The reality is we really are a commune and not autonomous, no matter what Ayn Rand says.

  4. I seriously don’t see how anyone can afford to work in KW and pay rent. They will be working 60 hours a week just to live. Not any time to enjoy or money to party. Couples can’t even find anyone that will rent them a room even at $1200 a month. If you buy a 100 year old 3 bed 1 bath home your looking at $300 k. If you pay mortgage , utilities, taxes and insurance and rented all 3 rooms you will go broke. Only chance is to live on Stock island in a dumpy trailer or if poor enough live in a section 8. Look at the empty lot on Simonton that was a home for many that performed at Mallory square. You lost a major attraction. Wonder how much they paid to get that voted for. Wake up Key West, you need workers to serve the rich and tourist.

  5. Excellent video story, best told that way–people and their stories. Thank you.

    I was reminded while watching your compelling piece of a 1972 article by Columbia University’s liberal sociologist, Herbert Gans, that lays out, “The Positive Functions of Poverty”–in human-speak, the value of poverty for larger society. Gans’ 13 ways that the poor keep larger society buoyant–delivered ‘tongue-in-cheek’–point to capitalist development’s killing of itself by assuming that those it drives into poverty, are expendable. Alex Symington suggests Gans’ analysis this with: “Who is going to clean the snow bird’s third homes? Who is going to serve the drinks and food? Who is going to fix their tricycles? Placing this in Gans’ words, I submit below a link to Gans’ 13-point list.

    http://thecrankysociologists.com/2013/03/27/cranky-sociologists-herbert-gans/

    Keep it up Naja and Arnaud, you at The Blue Paper are struggling to save those who are our city.
    Martha K. Huggins

  6. I read with great sadness the first report of Will Soto and his wife’s leaving the island because they can’t afford to live there, anymore, and to hear him tell it in your video made it that much more real and brought tears to my eyes. I know exactly how he feels, except he spent decades more years of his life there than I did.

    “Affordable housing” talk by the developers and city commissioners in Key West does not resonate with those of us who truly need – and needed – real affordable housing, which certainly is not $1150 plus for a studio and $1400-$1500 plus a month for a one bedroom apartment.

    Every time I hear of one more person who made Key West so special leaving, it just seems to drive the reality deeper into my soul that I had to leave, also, because I could no longer afford to stay. It’s been five years last month since I left and it still hurts that I can no longer step outside my door and walk or trike to a friend’s house in Key West for an evening of good food, good wine and great conversation. It still hurts that I can no longer trike to the Tropic or Waterfront Playhouse to meet friends for an evening of enjoyable entertainment or trike to MCC every Sunday morning to meet with my friends there.

    Yes, there is life with family and friends after Key West, but after living there for many years and enjoying the acceptance of everyone I met and the sincere caring of dear friends I made, there will always be a hole in my soul that can’t be filled elsewhere. I love being so near my daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughter, whom I’ve been blessed to help care for during the past four years, and to be looking forward to the birth of the first baby of my oldest granddaughter in June, a new baby sister or brother for my great-granddaughter in July and the wedding of my youngest granddaughter later in July. Certainly, I would not want to miss any of those precious and happy events, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss the place I loved so, since I first saw it thirty six years before I retired and moved there, and had to leave because it cost too much to continue to live there, a sad reason for anyone to leave the place in which they enjoy living.

    Peggy Butler
    West Palm Beach

  7. I’m greatly impressed by the concern so many Key West people have for “the rich” to continue hiring the gardeners, maids, bartenders and all the others who will be forced out of our community unless the city takes action to substantially increase the number of affordable housing units and a higher minimum wage, but I apparently must have missed the part of the Constitution where it says living in Key West is an inalienable right.

  8. I don’t think the affordability problem is ever going away. It’s a small island with ” Location, Location. Location.”
    It’s not “like Key West.” It is.

    On a Friday afternoon the Fall of ’89, I was tending bar at Viva Zapata’s, then at 903 Duval.
    Among the festive, early crew was then Mayor Richard Heyman and some friends.
    Someone came in and said to them excitedly: “Have you heard the news? The new MLS numbers are out and there’s NOTHING on the island listed under $100,000 !!!”

    (At the time, a waitress could still get an efficiency for $450, or a bedroom for $325.)
    Today, Market Forces say you need $26/hour to live here.

    So, how many Public Housing projects can the Island accommodate? Really.
    The affordability problem is not going away. The only real solution is to bus ( Airbus? ) in labor from the mainland with a federal DOT grant and let Freedom Ring. … Long live Ayn Rand !
    Just kidding.

    Sarcastic in Homestead