The four forum panelists’ main thrust was the criminalization of homelessness is the most expensive and least effective way to deal with homelessness. Jailing homeless people costs the criminal justice and the court systems heaps of money and makes it even harder for homeless people to get a job and stop being homeless. Putting homeless people into hospitals, instead of into jails, also is super expensive. Easily the cheapest and most effective way to end homelessness, 95 percent proven success, is to put homeless people into housing where they are managed by case workers until, and if, they are ready to move out on their own. Continue reading
Salvation Jane, by Ann Massey, Perth, Australia
Reviewed by a former practicing lawyer and published author who became homeless in Key West and other places.
Set in Perth, Australia, inspired by the massive tasering for sport of a schizophrenic homeless Aborigine by Aussie police officers, and by a brave and outraged Aussie lassie jumping whole hog into her ’tis of thee’s national politics over that, and over the general plight of homeless men and women down under, and by the author’s own personal experiences, which she asked me to keep between her and me, which inspired her to novelize all of the aforementioned: Salvation Jane is a topsy-turvy twisting-and-turning emotional tilt-a-whirl volcanic tsunami. Maddening, uplifting, maddening, uplifting. Featuring two saints, one dearly-departed, the other his left-behind common law, but for whom the silver linings would have been harder to swallow. Continue reading
This is the first in a series of articles on affordable housing and homelessness in Key West and the Florida Keys. We will try to look past the anti-homeless rhetoric burning through local media and show you what is really happening on the Keys housing front.
In future articles we will bring you points of view and solutions proposed by some of the most knowledgeable people on the Island. Continue reading
Getting old requires adapting to changed circumstances. I dislike this as much as anyone, both the getting and the adapting.
In our late 60s, we have more time, but less money, energy and strength. Parts that were once just fine now hurt. Some need to be repaired or replaced. Some things can’t be fixed.
Our horizon narrows with age.
Retirement redefines what we do and how we see ourselves. It’s tough when it’s forced on you.
I spent a few days last week in Key West, Fla., where three high-school classmates visited a fourth who has lived in the Conch Republic for 42 years.
Key West is a community that is upscaling itself by its own sunglasses. Continue reading
To all criminal vehicle lodgers in Key West,
First of all we are all unwashed and a detriment to the health and safety of tourists and residents of Key West. We are criminals.
I have never received a citation or been chased away by the Key West Gestapo. There is a reason for this. There are certain things you should and shouldn’t do to fly under the radar.
- If you are in a car, you are gonna get busted. You may get one warning, then you go to jail. This doesn’t apply to you.
- Where you park for the night makes a world of difference. Never, I repeat NEVER, park in a shopping center lot.
- Never park any place you are the only vehicle.
- Never park on the street in front of some one’s house. (they will call the Gestapo)
- Never park in a paid parking garage.
- Never spend more than ONE night in a business’s lot that is open all night. (ie. McDonalds)
- Never park in a Motel/Hotel lot. (they have security people looking for you)
- Never park on private property. Continue reading
“Someone better get him away from me before I arrest the son of a bitch myself!”
When the other officer asked “KA” what she was talking about, according to a witness, she said, “He just murdered that man.” “That Man” was Charles Eimers and “KA” is Kathyann Wanciak of the Key West Police Department, who on Thanksgiving morning, along with other officers, was arresting Eimers on South Beach at the end of Duval St. Within a few minutes Eimers would pass out facedown in the sand, wrists lacerated by tight hand-cuffs, blue in the face, and no longer breathing. He would never regain consciousness. Thousands of people have since seen the video captured by a bystander, which instantly raised questions of excessive force.
It took over 3 weeks for our still confidential source to decide to call someone about what he/she had heard that morning. That was a quickly closing porthole into what really happened that day. If our witness is correct, KA became so infuriated by the egregious behavior of one other officer that for a brief moment she broke the sacrosanct police “code of silence”. Continue reading
It’s a completely dilapidated trailer kept very clean and homey, enveloped by a reef of flowers, a contradiction explained away by the one single sign painted on the door: “Life is Good.” Or at least it was.
Today, gesturing with one hand to support her plea in broken English and with the other hand holding her two-year old son, Reyna F is getting pretty frantic about her family’s relocation away from the Simonton Street trailer park. The park is scheduled to close permanently on December 5th. It will leave a hundred or so people desperately trying to squeeze themselves into Key West’s jam-packed rental market.
“If you don’t have at least $ 3,000 you can not rent anything in Key West,” she explained, “They promised to help us relocate. But we came and asked for the $ 2,500 and they said we will only get the money after we have moved. But we counted on the money to pay first month and deposit.”
What $ 2,500 is she talking about? That would be the $ 2,500 that developer, Joe Cleghorn, promised to give to each tenant to “help them relocate”. It may have been very generous of him, but actually according to some, he didn’t really have a choice: He was one vote short of having the City Commission approve his development agreement. At the last minute, Cleghorn managed to swing Commissioner Lopez’ vote by promising to help his tenants find new rentals and to give them each $ 2,500 to make the move. Continue reading
Sloan Bashinsky, a frequent contributor to Key West The Newspaper’s Island Voices section, was recently interviewed on Good Morning Florida Keys With Jenna Stauffer [WEYW Nineteen] about his views on homeless issues. [Sloan was formerly homeless living on the streets of Key West.] [The video below is Part 2 of the interview. See Part 1 here.]
At the October 3rd City Commission Meeting I said, during citizen comments, that I had received an email inquiry from someone who has a home in the golf course community, asking if the new homeless shelter could be put out to referendum? I paused, taking in the somber looks on the dais, said, that was meant as comic relief, of course that was not a good idea. Some smiles. Continue reading
I wish everyone I know had been with me when I bumped into two remarkable people the other day and got caught up with them, as their rich lives and deep experiences and senses of humor and wisdom flowed out of them like manna from heaven. The man is probably the most educated person I have ever known. You could sit him down in any conversation on just about anything, and in short order he would demonstrate just how educated he really is. Yet, he is content to be homeless, read all the books he still needs to read, mind his own business, and serve the homeless in his own way, every day, by helping others enable homeless people to eat and not starve.
When I asked them, facetiously, if they will stay in the new homeless rehab shelter, if it ever gets built?, they snorted, laughed. Continue reading
Open Letter to the Board of City Commissioners,
After receiving overwhelming feedback from our residents, we are writing to inform you that the Key West Golf Club Home Owners Association (KWGC HOA) Board has passed a resolution to oppose the placement of a homeless facility at the Easter Seals location on College Road.
For the last two years, the residents of our Community have followed the City’s proposed move of KOTS from the Sheriff’s Office property to the Easter Seals property on College Road. We have met with many of the individuals involved including Mayor Cates, Billy Wardlow, Bob Vitas, Dr. Marbut and Sheriff Ramsay. We have also gathered information from others following this situation such as Fr. Braddock, Margaret Romero, Bart Smith, members of the Mosquito Control Board and FKSPCA board members and management. Continue reading
Individuals choose shelter in accordance to the realities that confront them. Ones’ home resides between their ears. No structure or parcel of food are equivalent to the thinker of the thought. No human power, principality or government can alleviate the so-called homeless issue.
Successful civilizations were designed to reinforce and reward preeminent achievement and greatness. Not cater to, or accommodate a segment of society unwilling to take advantage of the plethora of assistance and opportunity that is available for them. For too long, the homeless have been enabled in their plight, rather than addressed with some cold hard facts about themselves (tough love). The rigors of their troubled lives are often manifested in destructive conduct. Continue reading
The other day, I pedaled my bicycle by my old condo on Key West’s Fleming Street, a doorway where I slept every night on flattened cardboard boxes during the winter and spring of 2001. Continue reading
Some days, I wonder why I ever get out of bed in the morning?
The gentleman whose photo leads your post today “Duval Street repeat offender”
exited the FKOC program clean and sober in October 2011 after 20+ years on the street. He is doing very well and in stable veteran’s housing on the mainland. He is a very kind and gentle man who I feel blessed to have crossed paths with. Continue reading
A surprising statistic came out in the news last week. According to one expert 5.8% of Key West’s population is homeless and lives in the mangroves. We’re not even kidding. This is actually the conclusion of a $ 20,000 study presented by Dr. Robert Marbut to a straight–faced City Commission on August 6th, 2013. At least 1,422 people, according to Marbut, are homeless in Key West and have been for years. After subtracting those in jail and at KOTS [the emergency shelter, on Stock Island] we’re left with around 1200 that he claims are, for the most part, hidden “in the mangroves”. Needless to say that night we endeavored to beat around every mangrove bush we could find in hopes of raising Dr. Marbut’s apocalyptic legions of homelessness. We encountered no more than a few weary souls.
According to the 2013 Homeless Point In Time Report published by the Monroe County Homeless Services Continuum-of-Care Inc., there are about 480 homeless people in the Lower Keys, After subtracting those in jail or at KOTS, children, boaters and Stock Island’s homeless, there are likely around 50 people truly sleeping on the streets or “in the mangroves” of Key West. A far cry from the 1200 suggested by Dr. Marbut. So, what is going on? Continue reading
After the Roosevelt Boulevard townhall meeting last Tuesday came a regular city commission meeting. Dr. Robert Marbut led off with a lengthy presentation of his view of Key West’s homeless situation, which was followed by questions and comments from the mayor and city commissioners. Citizens were not allowed to comment or ask questions at that time.
Marbut said he conservatively placed the city’s homeless population at 1,422 and growing, more than twice the number of homeless previously reported in local surveys, as reported a few days prior in the Key West Citizen. Marbut said he did not include in that number 1,000 people who had stayed only one night at KOTS, which statistic any other city would have included in its homeless count. After Marbut spoke, I congratulated Gwen Filsoa for making those numbers public.
Marbut said the fair weather is the main reason homeless come to Key West to live. Nothing can be done about that. Marbut said the next reason homeless come to Key West is because Key West offers homeless so many amenities: plenty of food, medical services, booze, etc. He said all that needs to stop around Key West. Offer those services only at the new homeless shelter, which will force homeless to go there. That’s been his working model in other cities, which he said gets most homeless off the street. He said there are three kinds of homeless in Key West. New arrivals, who need to be told up front the difficulty of living in Key West with its high cost of living, the free ride in Key West is over, and they need to turn around and go back where they came from. The fairly new homeless, who can be turned around with the proper help and returned to mainstream. And the unreachable homeless, about twenty-five percent of the total homeless population; the homeless Mayor Cates and the city commissioners most want off the street.
Commissioner Billy Wardlow seemed to be the only one against the new homeless shelter being on Stock Island at the Easter Seals and Mosquito Control buildings. Continue reading
Back in maybe September 2007, I was sitting in one of the smaller auditoriums at Tropic Cinema waiting on a movie to start. My cell phone started buzzing, so I opened it and walked out of the auditorium. I said hello. A man asked if I was Sloan Bashinsky? I said that probably depended on who wanted to know.
He said his name and that he was with a nationally syndicated talk show in New York City. He had read online my suggestion that the City of Key West offer its homeless people jobs as litter cops dressed like pirates, Continue reading