In late September, Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful and costly storms to make landfall in the U.S., tore through southwest Florida and caused an estimated $67 billion in property damage. But on Big Pine Key, a community 100 miles southwest of Miami that saw flooding and storm surges up to 5 feet, 27 nearly finished cottages were still standing, largely unharmed.

“It was a good test,” said Maggie Whitcomb, who helped develop the cottages. “You never want to have a storm, but it’s good to know after a serious weather event just how strong your construction is.”

Built atop 12-foot-tall white podiums with water-resistant finishes and low-energy utilities, the cottages were constructed with structural insulated panels (SIPs), a strong, airtight substance made from renewable materials that can withstand 200-mile winds.

At $1,000 a month, they’re also some of the last affordable housing options for working-class residents. That’s because they are owned by the Florida Keys Community Land Trust (FKCLT), a nonprofit Whitcomb and her husband founded in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Hurricanes can cause billions of dollars of damage, and only a portion of that damage is covered by insurance in most cases. Property data analytics company CoreLogic estimates homeowners will be stuck with a bill from $10 billion to $17 billion in losses from Ian that weren’t covered by insurance. In a state that already pays three times the national average for home insurance and where many people have already lost all coverage, many homeowners will likely find it too expensive to rebuild.

Read the full article about community land trusts by Alexandra Applegate at YES! Magazine.