Nonprofit Pulls Proposal to Build Affordable Housing

A.H. of Monroe County, a social services organization based in Key West, Fla., has withdrawn a proposal to build an affordable housing development, according to Keys Weekly. Under the terms of the proposal, A.H. of Monroe would have constructed between 80 and 100 units within Key West’s Truman Waterfront.

The proposal had received support from a majority of city commissioners. But members of the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee, which advises the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, raised objections because the proposal had not been part of a competitive bidding process, Keys Weekly reported. The 3.2-acre Truman Waterfront development would have been located within Bahama Village.

Previously, City Manager Greg Veliz had advocated bypassing the request-for-proposal and review process, citing deadlines for federal funding applications and the need for a voter referendum on giving A.H. of Monroe a long-term lease, Keys Weekly reported. The RFP process might have delayed the project by six months, causing the city to miss an April 2022 deadline for applying for federal funding.

At the time, opponents of the development sought to include Black contractors in the proposal process. But City Commissioner Sam Kaufman, who had introduced A.H. of Monroe’s proposal to the committee, was concerned that private sector developers would need to include market-rate housing to subsidize the lower-cost affordable housing.

While A.H. of Monroe did not reference the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee objection when its board pulled its proposal, at least one city commissioner speculated the objection was a factor, according to Keys Weekly.

The project may not be completely dead, however. According to Keys Weekly, when A.H. of Monroe Executive Director Scott Pridgen withdrew the proposal in an email, he continued to express interest in the project, provided the city charter is amended to allow 50-year leases.

For now, however, no immediate plans to revive the Truman Waterfront development have been announced.

A.H. of Monroe provides a variety of community services, including affordable housing, counseling, medical case management and nutritional options to those in need within Monroe County. The organization has a special focus on those with HIV/AIDS.