Key West Homeless Forum Report From An Ex- Key West Street Person’s Perspective

canstockphoto16346190While The Blue Paper was hard at blue news work, the Key West homeless forum happened on August 28 at the Harvey Government Center.

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

BOOK REVIEW: Salvation Jane [Author: Jane Massey]

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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

Homeless in Key West: Old Man Chapman, Captain Tilly, and Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

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

The Frisbee King Throws to the Future

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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

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. Where you park for the night makes a world of difference.  Never, I repeat NEVER, park in a shopping center lot.
  3. Never park any place you are the only vehicle.
  4. Never park on the street in front of some one’s house.  (they will call the Gestapo)
  5. Never park in a paid parking garage.
  6. Never spend more than ONE night in a business’s lot that is open all night. (ie. McDonalds)
  7. Never park in a Motel/Hotel lot.  (they have security people looking for you)
  8. Never park on private property. Continue reading

First Crack In The Blue Wall of Silence

“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

Simonton Street Trailer Park: Forsaken Promises…

Issue 24 Trailer Park for web

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.

Reyna and sonToday, 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

Homeless Shelter Referendum?

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