Theresa Pinto, Miami Beach Times, July 25, 2019

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – On July 22nd, the Monroe County Commission approved a measure to participate in Rebuild Florida’s state-funded disaster recovery program, which has allocated $10 million to the County for voluntary home buyouts. Monroe County, population 73,090 as of the 2010 census, has their county seat in Key West.

The original intent of the home-buyout program is to manage areas prone to repeated flooding, specifically those impacted by Hurricane Irma.

The special public hearing took place at Marathon Government Center where the Commission sought public input on the matter. The funding is being administered through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and comes from Community Development Block Grants.

The city of Marathon had already joined the home buyout program under Rebuild Floridaand made a call for applications on July 19th. They will hold a public meeting on August 13th at the Marathon City Council to discuss it further.

According to the official Marathon Rebuild Florida website, “as of April 2019, more than 1,250 households in the Florida Keys have registered for Rebuild Florida […] 533 already have been prioritized and provided applications.” If all 533 applications are submitted and approved, this averages $18,762 per application.

Home buyouts in areas feeling the impacts of sea level rise are part of a larger coastal management policy known as “managed retreat”, sometimes called “managed realignment”. In terms of coastal erosion, managed retreat allows an area prone to flooding to be reclaimed by the sea, restoring intertidal habitats as well.

But if there are residences, then it means demolishing those homes in order to allow the shoreline to move inland. The homes are usually purchased at the government’s expense. Rebuild Florida claims that Keys’ homes meeting the criteria of their program will be purchased at pre-Irma market values.

However, the median home value in Marathon is $488,000, which would allow for the purchase of only twenty homes out of the 533 possible applicants, as the program currently stands.

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