Recently, inside sources with the Key West city council have reported that the United States military has begun planning to place temporary barracks at the Truman Waterfront Park (TWF) for a 3-month period. This is due to the current state of emergency for Monroe county, which was placed in effect by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, due to a burgeoning migrant crisis that has strained the local sheriff’s office and city police’s resources. According to this inside source, the military wants to place this temporary housing at TWF due to several factors. Mainly the cost of renting hotels and apartments for the newly activated National Guard and other Federal/State assets, including the State Highway Patrol. Hotels cost (on average) about $477 per night in Key West, which is an already high price to pay for housing. An also high cost for accommodation at NAS Key West (Installations.MIL), of about $1200-$2000 per month for non-government housing means that both of these costs, along with a general lack of housing on base (as most personnel actually live off-base) mean that the military has turned to utilize their own land for housing. The military owns all of the water and land rights around Truman Waterfront park, including land which has the Key West Aquarium and USCGC Ingham museum ship, which means they have the ability to utilize that land for whatever they require. It is unconfirmed what type of housing will be placed there, but it will most likely either be a Barracks Vessel or a simple temporary station for personnel. A barracks ship is a vessel that has been turned into a large, movable housing unit for personnel of the Federal government.
Image of Truman Waterfront Park and the USCGC Ingham Museum (The Studios of Key West)
Truman Waterfront and the adjoining Truman Waterfront Park opened in April of 2018 after a year of construction, and has undergone several renovations over its 4 years of operation. The park is on public, city-owned property, but the waterfront itself is owned by the US military, with a training site located in the harbor which houses the USCGC Ingham museum vessel. The park has also been long close to housing for military members in Truman Annex and NAS Key West, and the city itself has a long military tradition. The expected additional housing may assist the current issues relating to a lack of on-base housing for military members, as detailed in this article by Military.com, reporting on Junior Navy sailors who had their housing units shut down temporarily for “much needed repairs and renovations”. Trailers which had been built for on base use would usually cost up to $4000 USD to rent, which left many new sailors struggling to find housing they could afford. The addition of this new housing at TWF, along with a drive to repair and modernize infrastructure around military bases in Key West, may hopefully provide a solution to this issue.