We are running out of space. Many KW and Lower Keys residents agree that the biggest and most intractable challenge confronting our community (both immediately and in the future) is affordable workforce housing. Unfortunately, most of the solutions suggested to provide affordable housing for critically important workers and neighbors have flaws that could be worse than the problem itself – commuting, traffic, noise, sustainability, parking, pollution and too few units at too high a total cost to taxpayers. There is, however, one creative proposal that could be a huge step forward that doesn’t have unacceptable consequences. It’s called “The Porches” and it was suggested by John Padget, a civic minded philanthropist whose motivation at this stage of his life isn’t money.

The Porches is a bold long term plan for the old Navy property on Trumbo Road near the water. The 8 acre property is owned by KW taxpayers and currently used by the school board and the city. The proposal provides 480 small rental units, with porches and a great view, for workforce housing. The homes are prioritized for school district and city employees, like teachers and first responders, followed by the general public. The rental rates are capped at about 30% of the incomes. The Porches will accommodate bikes, mopeds and electric vehicles, but there will be no motor vehicle parking, which is designed to lower the carbon footprint.

It’s now up to the Mayor and City Commissioners to address our workforce housing crisis by approving the land and the waivers needed to implement this win/win plan for our community and for our essential workers and neighbors.

Happy New Year, Roger