With a workforce housing crisis in the Florida Keys that was exacerbated by Hurricane Irma’s landfall in September, a new development has brought needed affordable stock to two communities.

Developed by Tri-Star Affordable Development, Caya Place is the new construction of 42 units in two scattered-site buildings almost 20 miles apart in Marathon and Big Pine Key.

The three-story building in Marathon is comprised of 26 units, and residents moved in a little less than two weeks before the Category 4 hurricane hit the Keys. The second building includes 16 units and was under construction at the time of the hurricane. Both buildings only sustained minor damage, although the completion of the Big Pine Key community took longer than expected because of the storm recovery. When it opened at the end of February, it was fully leased within two days.

According to Marty Flynn, operations advisor and strategist at Tri-Star Affordable Development, which constructs and operates affordable housing projects through the Florida Keys, housing was already desperately short, especially for the workforce, in the popular tourist destination.

“As businesses get back on their feet, the stress is being felt more and more,” adds Flynn. “We are proud to bring new affordable homes at Caya Place to 42 Keys families.”

The development includes 36 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units at 60% of the area median income (AMI), with the remainder at 25% of the AMI. The Tree House Foundation, based in Orlando, provides social services for residents, such as adult learning programs, and a services coordinator is on site 20 hours a week.

The $15.7 million Caya Place was financed with low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) and a State Apartment Incentive Loan from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. Hunt Capital Partners was the tax credit syndicator, with Citi Community Capital as the investor. First State Bank of the Florida Keys provided construction and permanent financing.