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Couple helps struggling Key West residents during coronavirus downturn

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Fifty-two Key West residents, who live on boats in the city’s mooring field and are among the hardest hit by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, won’t have to pay their rent in May, thanks to the generosity of a couple who have lived in the area for just under a year, a report said.

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Scott and Sonja Miller, who moved to the area from Alabama, paid more than $18,000 to help everyone living located between Fleming Key and the Navy’s Sigsbee Park Annex, city officials told the Miami Herald.

“We’re blessed to have the resources to do it. More importantly, we did it to hopefully inspire others to do so.” 

— Key West resident Scott Miller

“We’re blessed to have the resources to do it,” Scott Miller said on Friday. “More importantly, we did it to hopefully inspire others to do so.”

The residents who were helped live moored the shore, what the paper identified  as "on the hook." Real estate prices in the Keys have gone up in recent years and that kid of living is considered a more affordable alternative.

Back in March, the Millers reached out to Mayor Teri Johnston, looking for a way to help those living in the mooring field by possibly paying any back rent that was owed, the Herald reported.

At that time, though, rents were up to date, said city spokeswoman Alyson Crean.

Rents in the mooring field are $20.32 per day or $357.58 monthly.

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“I have a job, I have lots of work,” Scott Miller, a civil engineer, said.

The sun sets Friday, April 17, 2020, over a quiet Key West Harbor in Key West, Fla. Gov. Ron Desantis opened Florida beaches Friday as a first move to reopen the state after the coronavirus outbreak. (Rob O'Neal/The Key West Citizen via AP)

The sun sets Friday, April 17, 2020, over a quiet Key West Harbor in Key West, Fla. Gov. Ron Desantis opened Florida beaches Friday as a first move to reopen the state after the coronavirus outbreak. (Rob O'Neal/The Key West Citizen via AP)

“But this whole town effectively is shut down. A lot of people need some help. Why not share? It’s one of the reasons we moved here, that’s the beauty of this place,” he added.

Miller’s wife said the couple has vacationed in Key West for the last 15 years, but they are relatively new to living full-time on the island, the report said.

Scott Miller told the newspaper he hardly knows any of the residents living in the mooring field.

“Not a soul,” he said.

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“It helps my family more than you can imagine,” resident Brandy Carpenter said Friday. “We have three kids on our floating home and I was worried.”