Nov 252016
 

The homeless man was found face down on Smather’s Beach with his throat cut. Detectives are investigating.

SHAL Raising Funds for Homeless Bus Tickets

From SHAL’s Press Release:

The Southernmost Homeless Assistance League (SHAL) is asking for community support for its popular reunification program this holiday season.

SHAL’s goal is to improve the quality of life for all residents and visitors to the community, and SHAL’s remarkable case managers work directly with each person experiencing homelessness individually to address each person’s particular issues. Most homeless persons have been affected by external issues and need a hand up to resume a permanently housed, self-sufficient life. Problems including health & mental health, employment, domestic violence, family break up and substance abuse can lead many of us to the very precarious and life-threatening condition of being without permanent housing. SHAL works to address these issues with our clients, and have been able to assist many of our neighbors to remain in the Keys in permanent housing. Among SHAL’s programs are healthcare, employment and housing, and we work hard to provide a clean, sanitary, restful Shelter to help homeless persons get back on their feet.

But The Keys can be a tough place to make ends meet due to the high costs of housing & living and low wages for unskilled workers. Sometimes a person’s best option is to relocate “back home” where family, friends, housing and employment can more easily add up to self-sufficiency. Until very recently, SHAL had a voluntary “bus ticket” program that had successfully purchased over 350 tickets for homeless persons to get them to a location on the mainland where they can again afford housing and life’s essentials. (Clients voluntarily agree not to return to Monroe County.)

This holiday season, we are asking for donations to reinstitute this program. Please visit www.shalkw.org to make an online donation or send a check to SHAL at PO Box 2990, Key West FL 33045. Include on your check memo line or the online form “bus ticket” and we will use your gift exclusively for reuniting homeless persons, hopefully before the end of the year. Please contact Executive Director John Miller at ExDir.SHAL@gmail.com if you need more information.

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Arnaud and Naja Girard
Arnaud and Naja Girard, owners and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.

  41 Responses to “Thanksgiving Celebrated at Homeless Shelter in Shadow of Terrible News”

  1. Sorry about the young dead man with his throat slit? For sure, he was homeless? If he slit his own throat, would be knife or razor blade have been near his body?

    Good video of Thanksgiving meal at KOTS. Not a typical evening there, though. Perhaps you and Arnaud being there, they were on their “best behavior?”

    I stayed there many nights last year, perhaps 100 nights, give or take?

    They turned the TV up all the way, trying to hear the movie over the loud talking of the homeless people who are not watching the movie.

    The convivial mingling and conversations in the video, I did not see much of at KOTS. Lots of arguing, loud talking. Lots of what sounded like chemically-influenced taking. Or talking from brains damaged by long term chemical use. And some cordial conversation.

    If you were to interview homeless people on the street, without the video recorder, so they cannot be ID’d by KOTS manager Mike Tolbert and SHAL executive director John Miller, you would get very different reports on KOTS and Tolbert, than the comfy Thanksgiving video gives blue paper readers.

    Wish you had left the SHAL propaganda text out, and had just gone with the video.

    But since it looks like you swallowed SHAL, Miller and Tolbert hook, line and sinker .

    Homeless people who WERE NOT ALLOWED to eat Thanksgiving dinner at KOTS yesterday:

    The about 50 homeless people banned for life from KOTS, without any due process.

    Homeless people temporarily kicked out KOTS for less than “capital” offense..

    Homeless people who had used free 1-way Greyhound bus tickets to be “reunited” with family and/or friends on the mainland, and then came back to Key West.

    Homeless people banned by their own doctors from sleeping at KOTS, because it is too medically dangerous for them to sleep there.

    One homeless man told me that his doctor, Jerome Covington, M.D., who runs the city’s indigent medical clinic, said he did not understand why the county health department had not already closed KOTS.

    Another homeless man, who had been in the hospital on Stock Island several times with grave heart and MRSA conditions, he has top shelf Medicare-Medicaid, told me every doctor in the ER, Dr. Atilla the chief doctor at the hospital, and his own private physician had told him to stay away from KOTS.

    Many homeless people have told me they don’t stay at KOTS because they do not want to get sick. Or sick again.

    MRSA. Scabies. Lice. Mold. Pneumonia. Tuberculosis. Influenza. Hepatitis C.

    Diseases I have heard homeless people say they do not want to catch at KOTS. Or catch again there.

    After staying many nights last year at KOTS, I have every reason to believe what I hear from homeless people about KOTS on the streets of Key West.

    Every night I stayed there, I wondered if I was going to catch something awful.

    If you spent a few nights there, sleeping next to dirty, smelly, often drunk or otherwise wasted people, bathing and peeing and pooping in the filthy combo FEMA shower/toilets, you would know I am not blowing smoke.

    As for the “reunification” program using free 1-way bus tickets, it’s a good attempt, but the fact is, the homeless people who use that exit strategy take themselves with them to be with friends and/or family. If they are addicts, they take that with them. if they are mentally ill, they take that with them. Most of them are one or both of the above.

    What do you think then happens when the Greyhound riders reach their family and/or friends’ homes and move in? Everything is happy ever after? Perhaps in a few cases it works out okay. But in most cases, the dearly deporteds go back to their old ways and it does not work out, but they are not in Key West any longer, so it’s a success for KOTS and SHAL and the city.

    I suppose I myself gave half a dozen homeless people one-way bus tickets and traveling money to family and friend, hoping that would work out for them, not in anywise holding my breath that it would.

    SHAL and the city’s and the counselor’s main mission is to rid Key West of as many homeless people as possible.

    SHAL has put very few homeless people in housing away from KOTS. That away from KOTS housing is subsidized. Clients are given 1st, last and deposit. They are required, or so it is said, to pay part of it, or pay SHAL back, or be evicted. No drug screens are used. Addicts actively using can get this housing, if the have income, either a job or a monthly check. It is a new venture for SHAL. It is not known how it will turn out. But it is known that actively using addicts do not turn around if they keep using; they do not take care of housing as well as do people who are not using.

    I myself have personally seen KOTS manager Mike Tolbert lie many times. I have personally seen SHAL’s executive director John Miller lie to the city commission, after being introduced to them by SHAL board member Teri Johnston. I have seen Miller lie in quotes reported by the Key West Citizen. I have seen Mayor Craig Cates sayat a city commission meeting that SHAL has done an excellent job of operating KOTS.

    During citizen comments at city commission meetings, I have told Mayor Cates and the entire city commission, and the prior city commission on which Teri Johnston sat, that they have no clue how well, or not, SHAL is running KOTS, because none of them ever spent even one night there.

    I have told them they are clueless what goes on at KOTS.

    I think maybe the blue paper is clueless, too, despite how many times I have told you, Arnaud and Naja, what KOTS is like.

    I simply cannot imagine why you did not ask me, or someone else who knows this terrain like the back of his own hand, because it is the back of his own hand, for counter point views to include in your article.

    Naja, you came straight to me the other day to learn how to sign up using the new visitation method to see an ibmate in the county jail, because you knew I know that terrain like the back of my own hand.

    Maybe you figured I would chime in under this absolutely fox in the hen house SHAL promo, so you did not need to put my 2 cents unworth into your article?

    The Citizen does that all the time, as does the Keynoter. They haul off and write homeless reports without getting any counter points. They swallow hook, line and sinker what SHAL and the city government tell them about KOTS and homeless people.

    sloanbashinsky@outlook.com, sloanbashinsky@yahool.com. goodmorningkeywest.com, every day, usually up by noon

  2. P.S. According to a fairly recent Key West Citizen article, in which KWPD (and Key West) Spokeswoman was quoted, homeless people banned from KOTS can sleep in public places in the city: the police station, benches, etc. Other public places are: fire stations, city parks, city beaches, new city hall, the new park on Truman waterfront when it is finished, public sidewalks … I have slept about 2 weeks running at the police station, in the downstairs front foyer … Will sleep there tonight, as things now stand …

  3. Sloan,

    Your points are:
    1. The homeless shelter is not as good as it could be.
    2. Homeless people have many issues including mental health issues, physical health issues, and drug and alcohol abuse issues.
    3. Physicians agree that persons with serious health issues should avoid sleeping at KOTS because they are at risk of contracting communicable diseases that could put them in jeopardy.
    4. As is true whenever people live or even spend time in close quarters with groups of people [fitness centers, jails] as opposed to single family homes, and especially when substance abuse, mental health, etc are at play, the risk of contracting communicable diseases is heightened.
    5. That the reunification program only works sometimes, likely in a minority of cases – but DOES work sometimes.
    6. That just like a large portion of the local population some of the homeless persons who are being helped with subsidized housing use alcohol and drugs but that is not used as a barrier to obtaining help with housing.

    I doubt very highly that anyone including the people working for SHAL would deny any of the above.

    7. Then there were the unsubstantiated accusations of criminal activity – which I removed from your comment. Have you spoken with the police detectives or the Chief about that? Will those women witnesses meet with detectives and make statements?

    ANOTHER STORY:
    Now, you did also mention the lack of due process involved in banning persons [like yourself] from KOTS “for life” and that is most certainly a topic for another story and one that merits serious attention.

    And one wonders why our City officials are not taking a close look at that since they are aware of the situation…

    [Have you asked for a hearing before the City Commission on behalf of yourself and the other banned homeless persons? Will you push the City Commission further on that issue on behalf of all of those affected? Let’s do a story on your crusade for due process and city adopted guidelines for SHAL to adhere to regarding the expulsion of homeless people from the only publicly owned homeless shelter…]

    • With all due repect Naja, you and Arnaud should have taken a pass on SHAL’s propaganda, which you two had to know, having had me living in your home for about a year aggregate until only recently, and the many discussions we three had about SHAL and KOTS, is propaganda.

      You know i have spoken many times to the mayor and city commissioners at city commission meetings, during citizen comments, about KOTS. They looked at me like I was daft. Only when I told them I had been banned for life from KOTS, and what Mike Tolbert’s reason was, and that I was headed for the police station from the commission meeting to ask KWPD to either let me spend the night there, or arrest me for trespass, which I then did, was tgere a shift.

      Arnaud drove me there on his moped, with his video camera, which he had used at the commission meeting, Only then did the city commission and KWPD finally relent, obey the law, and tell me I could sleep there, in the front downstairs outside lobby. Where I have slept every night since then. Yet not one peep from the blue paper about that. The Citizen broke that story, and that homeless people banned from KOTS c an sleep in public places, including the police station, on public benches, etc.

      I was left with the impression that you and Arnaud do not care for the prospect of homeless people banned from KOTS, or temporarily kicked out, or told by their doctors not to go to KOTS, sleeping in public places such as new city hall, city parks and beaches, public sidewalks, etc. I got the impression you and Arnaud did not want homeless people banned from KOTS to know that was permitted, for you two could have broken that story the next morning. The angels who run me arranged for you two to be who broke it in the blue paper. And you took a pass.

      You are worried about due process at KOTS. Then you write a story about that. Ask SHAL/KOTS for a list of everyone banned or put out of KOTS for the past 365 days. Ask to see each incidence report. You will find out quick enough that there is no due process. You also will find out from talking with homeless people, off the record, that Mike Tolbert says, that’s it, AndJohn Miller backs Mike Tolbert up.

      You think that bothers the mayor and the city commissioners and city manager and city attorney? Not in the least. Mayor Cates said at a recent commission meeting that SHAL has done an excellent job running KOTS. Not one city commissioner challenged that, not even Sam Kaufman, who has privately told me he has gotten nowhere trying to address what he knows are serious issues at KOTS.

      You have not being paying attention, Naja. SHAL, Mike Tolbert and John Miller have been denying just about everything I have written at goodmorningkeywest.com and have said at city commission meetings about KOTS. That’s why they don’t want me staying there at night, because they know I will keep writing about what I see going on there, including things that need favorable mention.

      You and Arnaud yourselves both were shocked at the reasons Mike Tolbert gave in his email to me, banning me from KOTS for life. You said he took what I wrote and said out of context. Mike will say anything to further Mike. The truth or fiction, it does not matter. I have seen him do it many times. In writing. Face to face.

      John Miller, in his comment further along (below), says I have a hidden agenda. What hidden agenda? I have been wide open all along about myself, my girlfriend, who was banned for reasons I have explained to you and to Arnaud many times. A great story, but you and Arnaud didn’t go after it,. After this article of yours today, I am wondering if the blue paper is getting paid, or hopes to get donations, from SHAL.

      I am astounded that you replied me with:

      “7. Then there were the unsubstantiated accusations of criminal activity – which I removed from your comment. Have you spoken with the police detectives or the Chief about that? Will those women witnesses meet with detectives and make statements?”

      You now owe it to blue paper readers to include here what I did write, which you deleted without even talking with me about it. What I have told you many times, and each time you got weird about it. Something I told you and Arnaud both to verify by talking with homeless people on the street, away from KOTS, off the record, and see if they backed me up. LIke I told you to verify the true conditions at KOTS by sleeping there a few nights yourselves, which is the only way to do that.

      Here’s what you deleted, which was the last part of my comment:

      “You, and Key West, simply do not want to know how many homeless men and women have told me Mike Tolbert hits on homeless women at KOTS, and away from there, to have sex with him, and to come to his home and have sex with him and his wife.”

      What criminal law did I allege Mike broke?

      If I took that to the police, they would do nothing. I took it to the mayor and city commissioners during citizen comments at a city commission meeting, and they did nothing. They did not even reply to me.

      What SHAL should have done as soon as it took over KOTS was start clamoring the city commission to build a new, sanitary, easy to keep sanitary, homeless shelter, and close KOTS ASAP, because it was a major contagious disease vector in Key West. But SHAL did not do that, and still won’t do it, because without KOTS SHAL has no reason to exist.

      Well, at least this all is getting some exposure now.

      • My bad. You are correct that I jumped too quickly — your accusations were not of “criminal behavior.” You have, however, made accusations of criminal behavior in the past against the manager of KOTS many times and continue to do so in your blog and I lumped all of that into one. Apologies. What I am saying to you Sloan, former attorney Sloan, is that I’m wondering why you yourself are not getting the public records you instruct me and Arnaud to request in regards to the banning of homeless persons from KOTS. This is your crusade. Yes, you have mentioned your situation and that of the other 50 or so homeless who are said to be banned for life – in your blog and to the City Commissioners. But you have not pushed them and asked for any formal action [approved guidelines and an appeal process for example] and you haven’t asked for records yourself – and certainly you are capable of doing whatever it takes. I’m hoping to be able to report on your efforts on this front. P.S. When we visited KOTS and had a look around it did not look especially unsanitary. In fact, it looked as though there was quite a bit of effort put into cleaning the sleeping areas and the bathrooms. My understanding is that a new shelter is in fact being proposed. As to statistics regarding communicable disease – that’s something else you could investigate in your free time – and by investigate I don’t mean gossip – I mean getting proof – and if you did your comments on that subject would be more likely to be believed by your readers.

        • One more thing. A lot of people volunteered their time to make Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless at the shelter and a young homeless man lost his life in a horrific manner on Thanksgiving Day – whether it was suicide or murder – it was horrific – and it was and is sad. Perhaps if that man [turns out he was 50] had been helped to return to his family that would not have happened. Who knows. There are many hurt and needy souls who are getting help at KOTS by employees, volunteers, and by fellow homeless persons. Those aspects of the reality of KOTS can also be recognized — that is what this particular story is about.

          • You know Naja, I am getting so weary of hearing this commenter continually call me a liar. I have not told a single untruth at all. I’ve only told the Commission and others of what we are trying to do, how hard the SHAL staff is working to get us there, and what our strategy is to address the homeless problem. SHAL does have many success stories to tell, mostly due to the hard work of the SHAL staff. We have cleaned up & fixed up the current shelter, added food service, healthcare and other programs, all while reducing the City’s investment in our operation and services. We hope to reduce the cost even more dramatically in the new shelter setup.

            The lies come from this character himself. He has recklessly made up things about me, about my staff, about you guys, even about the mayor. He claims that unnamed people tell him unsubstantiated and really unbelievable things, or he says it comes to him in dreams. Those are the real lies, totally indefensible & hateful story telling.

            And I suppose the biggest lie comes from someone who claims to know how to solve homelessness, but has been repeatedly homeless here and elsewhere. If he knew anything about how to address homelessness, he might have been able to solve it for himself! It’s like asking a flood victim to design a drainage system: just not likely to generate a good result.

            And that is the biggest lie, and the liar who is telling them. This guy could leave Key West tomorrow and find affordable permanent housing in many other places, even on his limited income. He has rich relatives and an impending inheritance. He has no inalienable right to live in Key West. He has no inalienable right to stay at the SHAL Shelter. And we have no responsibility to put up with his threats and dangerous behavior any longer.

            There are over 3,000 counties in the United States. Perhaps he could try another one.

          • As for your article being about a lot of people working hard to feed homeless people turkey on Thanksgiving day in the wake of the death of a man the Citizen reports today was a KOTS resident, you and Arnaud opened the door wide when you included SHAL’s propaganda, which is spun, and most of which had nada to do with Thanksgiving..

            The bus ticket program has been going on since the early 2000s. It never has worked well, and it never will. Which you and Arnaud should know. And yes, sometimes it does work. Sometimes. But hardly in the way SHAL and John Miller and Mike Tolbert boast.

            The one person in Key West, now deceased, whose sandals none of us are worthy to lace, Dorothy Sherman, who, with her husband George, started the soup kitchen out of their own pockets, and continued it for years, was declared a living saint by Peter Batty at her standing room only wake in Mary Star of the Sea nave – far more people attended than would later attend beloved city commissioner Merili McCoy’s wake in the same nave.

            What has been done to the soup kitchen by that church, the sheriff, SHAL, John Miller, Mike Tolbert, Mayor Craig Cates, the city commissioners and Key West has desecrated St. Dorothy’s grave and life work for God. How come you and Arnaud have not jumped on that at the blue paper? How come you put up a video painting SHAL, KOTS, Mike Tolbert as living saints on Thanksgiving Day? The 3rd anniversary of KWPD murdering suspected homeless man Charles Eimers?

            Here’s the awful truth, Naja. Dorothy was Key West’s Mother Teresa. Dorothy’s view was, which continued at the soup kitchen after he passing, was: “It is our job to feed homeless people, it is God’s job to change them.”

            Dorothy was right, of course.

            Rick Boetteger and his wife learned it by their taking a homeless woman into their home, after Rick talked with with me about doing it, and I told him, if they did it, great, but not to expect anything back from the homeless woman. Require nothing of her, except she behave in their home. Do not try to get her to clean house, wash clothes, do yard work. Just let her be.

            I think that’s what they did, and it did not work out, as I had told Rick it might not, for I knew the homeless woman well, and I knew it would take an act of God to change her.

            Sadly, that’s usually what it takes to change anyone.

            I had a very rough night last night, got maybe only 3 hours sleep. This here between youse and mese was tearing up my gut and my soul. I’m way over worked already. I wish I could figure out where to send the bill for my services rendered, and the bill would get paid, in US greenbacks.

            For just my comments under this article, and my resulting pain and suffering – waaa! – I happily would would charge $1,000.

        • Actually, Naja, “due process” has not been my crusade re KOTS/SHAL, other than I found in my girlfriend Kari’s KOTS files only accusations made against her by other people, and nothing of her side of it was in her files. “Due process” was what other people have told me bothers them about KOTS: Todd German, Tom Milone, you and Arnaud, and now Rick Boettger further along in the comments under this article.

          It matters not if there is an “appeal” procedure set up for KOTS clients to challenge disciplinary decisions made by Mike Tolbert and his monitors, or to file grievances against them. The appeal or grievance would be a joke. Even if it went as far as to the city magistrate, it would be a joke, given who pays the city magistrate’s salary – the city.

          What homeless person would go through all of that, and then file a de novo appeal to the local state court?

          What lawyer would handle all of that pro bono for such homeless person? Nada lawyer.

          What homeless person, who was only kicked out for 2 weeks, or a month, who felt it was wrong, or who was not kicked out but felt had been wronged, would file a grievance? Probably no homeless person, who wanted to keep staying at KOTS.

          What homeless person would want his or her name made known, who accused Mike Tolbert of a crime, other than Kari and me? Homeless people speak freely with me about Mike, but they make it clear they don’t want me to name them.

          A recent exception was a man from Birmingham, my hometown, who had stayed at KOTS, and now his sister came down here and is staying at KOTS.

          Bama, I will call him, got into it with Mike over Mike ordering all the tattered shower curtains in the men’s part of the FEMA toilets/showers trailer to be removed. Bama told Mike it wasn’t right not to be able to poop, pee and shower in private. Mike told him tough shit. Bama went to John Miller, who overruled Mike. Mike then told Bama he would get his shower curtains, but they would be clear so Mike could watch him use the toilet and shower. Bama told Mike, in the yard, lots of clients hear him, “Fuck you, Mike, I’m going to get you.” Mike said that was a threat, Bama was kicked out for 2 weeks. Later, Bama learned he was kicked out for life. He told me, what he meant was he was going to get Mike fired.

          I wrote about that. Mike learned of it. Told me of Bama threatening on Facebook to kill him. That justified the ban for life. But when I read what Bama had sent Mike, there was no threat to kill Mike by Bama. Bama told Mike, if he did not lay off of me, my family in Birmingham would kill him.

          Just one of many examples of just how little of what Mike says can safely be taken to be true.

          I have told you and Arnaud repeatedly, what is given to me to do in all messed up situations the angels give me to engage is for me to sue the bastards, so to speak, in God’s court, where they and I and the “victims” and everyone else involved, stands naked, on trial, with no right against self-incrimination. That’s my job as a lawyer, as a journalist, as a servant to humanity, which is my calling.

          But since you did interject criminal activities into this discussion, and since you did it again after I called you on doing it inaccurately, I will summarize criminal allegations I have, in fact, made against Mike Tolbert at goodmorningkeywest.com.

          [NOTE: Editor has removed the accusations of criminal activity.]

          Now it’s curious to me, Naja, that John Miller and Mike Tolbert have not sued me for libel. Maybe they are waiting for my stepmother to die and I receive my next inheritance from my father, so they can sue me for mega buck damages? But then, if they were really upset, I’d think they would at least ask a judge to enjoin me from publishing what I report about them.

          • Why fight for civil rights? No one uses them anyhow… is that it?

            What lawyer? I don’t know – but Sam Kaufman did help out your girlfriend Kari pro bono – didn’t he?

            Why have guidelines and an appeal process? Because it affects the work of those that are required to work under those guidelines and appeal process — usually in a positive way – whether or not the appeal process is used. Also when that pro bono lawyer does come into the picture those guidelines and process will be used and will be helpful.

            What homeless person would use the process? Those that have the wherewithal to do so. Those that have a legitimate gripe.

            Why don’t they sue you for liable or ask a Judge to enjoin you from publishing those heresay accusations? Maybe they are too busy doing their jobs and are not interested in getting further immersed in the fight you offer to them?

        • Naja, you will never know what it’s like in those bathrooms and showers, until you stay there at night and bathe there.

          Gossip, you call every homeless person I asked if Mike Tolbert is hitting on homeless women, and they all said either yes, they were the woman he hit on, or yes, they heard it from women he hit on.

          Do you think there is any homeless woman Mike hit on, other than Kari, who was hit on by Mike’s wife, she said, before I knew her, to have party sex with her and Mike at their home, and when Mike came by to check Kari out, she saw him and declined, will come forward and be put through the threshing machine you and Arnaud and society and KOTS and Mike Tolbert and John Miller will then put them through?

          That’s why I try them in God’s Court. Because I know that’s the only Court where the truth will prevail in such matters.

          • Sloan,

            I spent many many years bathing in a public bathroom owned by the City of Key West when my family lived on a boat offshore. I doubt very highly that the bathrooms reserved for liveaboards at Key West Bight were cleaned any better than those at KOTS. My guess would be KOTS bathrooms receive more attention. I know exactly what it is like to share facilities for the poor.

            As to Mike flirting with whoever. Gossip and not all that interesting.

  4. I agree that there is a due process case to be made on the banning procedure. Using Sloan’s compassionate statement regarding his woman friend’s quality of life as “threatening her life” is nonsense. Are other bannings as capricious?

    KOTS exists in response to a legal ruling, the Pottinger case. Our tax money pays for it. Merely subcontracting it out is insufficient, in my opinion, to relieve the subcontractor of due process obligations under our Constitution.

  5. Hi Naja:

    Thanks to you and Arnaud for coming out last night and seeing again for yourself that SHAL is working hard to make the Shelter as good as we can to help our clients escape homelessness. The staff SHAL has now is a pretty remarkable group of people and I am so proud of how hard they work and how selfless they can be. SHAL Outreach and SHAL Shelter operations are run and staffed by a very dynamic and enthusiastic bunch, and I am regularly thankful to have the privilege of working with them.

    I have been loath to enter into any discussion with this commenter or others who so obviously have some sort of hidden agenda to support other agencies or just to denigrate SHAL for some perceived past transgressions. Unnamed, unreliable and probably fictitious sources are continually quoted making wild and ridiculous charges against SHAL. SHAL is not what it was 5 years ago, we don’t do what we did then and no one here was there then, so the animosity towards us is very hard to understand.

    But for your information:

    • SHAL’s Shelter is now one of the cleanest and most supportive facilities I have dealt with in my nearly 20 years of homeless work, having been the Chair for an 16-county Homeless Continuum of Care that distributed tens of millions of dollars each year. I have personally contacted all the medical professionals regularly quoted as having said bad things about the Shelter, and they deny having said these things or having ever even been to SHAL to know what goes on out here. We are constantly making improvements and we disinfect everything possible every day. I would postulate that the SHAL Shelter is perhaps one of the LEAST likely places in the community to contract a communicable disease.

    I am also the Board Chair for the Rural Health Network and have spent a lot of time helping to make sure that the two organizations work closely to help homeless & low-income patients get the best care possible. Both groups are working hard to improve the care that we are able to provide.

    • SHAL has removed a very, very small number of clients from the Shelter due to violence or overt threats of violence. We have hundreds of people each month who depend on SHAL to make sure the Shelter is safe, and that, in the management’s opinion, is one of our most important duties. I doubt that any of these disconnected clients would agree that they are a threat, but we have to use our best judgment on the matter. I doubt that anyone would defend SHAL if we didn’t err on the side of caution.

    By the way, this procedure has been going on for most of the time the Shelter has operated. The previous operator removed many, many more people from the Shelter in the same manner than SHAL has. And we even have readmitted a number of those removed by the previous operator and we reevaluate each case regularly. But we don’t think it is the right of someone to come to SHAL, violate our very reasonable rules and expect to stay and threaten the well being of the other residents.

    Finally, it is true that none of the SHAL-instituted programs in healthcare, housing, employment and support work 100% of the time, but they all work a lot of the time, and that is very important for those that we are able to help. We are in the business of helping clients escape homelessness, which is much more difficult if you are tired, or hungry, or sick or have no income.

    Sincerely,

    John Miller
    SHAL Executive Director

  6. All seem to miss one key point. If I was broke or had to live on some stupid amount of ss then what better place to live than Key West ? Even if forced to live outdoors with no shelter Key West is perfect. Never freezing cold and rain seldom lasts long. KW has been doing it’s best to run homeless out of the keys for many years. And they are winning. Until it is you that is broke , hungry, dirty and helpless you can not understand the true problem. You will settle for what ever you can get. Often even jail might look good. A bed , shower and food. This has to be costly for tax payers. What do you want Lee to do ? If he arrests them it is costly and with limited space what else can happen. Do you really think he wants deputies to actively search for them ? If it was you hungry what would you do ? Fastest way to get food is get arrested. Problem is they want alcohol so they try to stay out of jail. You can’t fix this problem. Seen many that are down to a few dollars will buy beer than food. Long term it ends up costing tax payers in medical bills. Nobody wants to be poor but many are. Would like to think nobody went hungry on thanksgiving day but am sure many did. Not placing blame on anyone. The system failed.

    • Actually, like many people who haven’t worked with the homeless, you may not really understand the stress, violence and deprivation of the lifestyle. Being homeless is a terrible life here or anywhere. Few people move to a new place, where they don’t know anyone or how to access resources, when they become homeless. Your money goes lots farther in other places, and rents are a fraction of the cost here. And if your life’s goal is to sleep in the mangroves or in the SHAL Shelter in a room with 25 other homeless guys, we might need to talk goal setting…

      While one might think that the Keys are better than some places, you miss the point that living outside here, with the sun and the mosquitos & no-see-ums and few places to sit or rest during the long, long afternoons in the 105° heat index is actually worse than a more temperate climate. There are few resources. You can walk a mile to find a restroom.

      People experiencing homelessness in the Keys aren’t searching for this lifestyle. Like we say, most of the homeless are already here, they just aren’t homeless yet. Few resources for health, unemployment & low wages, high rents and good ‘ol “Keys Disease” help to exacerbate the problem. A large majority of people who become homeless here leave very quickly for a more accommodating situation.

      SHAL works to solve each person’s individual challenges and find a way toward permanent housing. Refusing to support people in great need, failing to provide life’s necessities and work with people to get them back to self-sustainability doesn’t reduce the number of homeless on our streets, it only increases the suffering.

      And who among us has not needed a helping hand once in a while?

      John Miller,
      SHAL Executive Director

  7. Sloan says:

    “Here’s the awful truth, Naja. Dorothy was Key West’s Mother Teresa. Dorothy’s view was, which continued at the soup kitchen after he passing, was: “It is our job to feed homeless people, it is God’s job to change them.””

    Dorothy was right, of course.”

    Yes! Dorothy was right. And it is a shame that no one wants to continue Dorothy’s work, in like spirit, and that there are forces making it more difficult for anyone to do so. No argument there. The church next door to my house quit feeding the homeless due to public pressure.

    • The Soup Kitchen continues to provide amazing meals for homeless persons, served each night at the SHAL Shelter.

      • Thanks John, I should have made that clear in previous statement. I think there are concerns with the Sheriff’s decision to ask SHAL not to allow anyone who does not agree to come to the shelter for 7:00 pm dinner and STAY THERE ALL NIGHT to have a meal. For example, we sometimes allow people to live in our guest room when they have nowhere to go but we don’t provide meals other than on rare occasions. Not to say that the shelter must do so, but because of public pressure there seem to be less and less people in the community feeding the hungry making it more difficult for someone who is able to find help with housing [other than the shelter] to find help with food. It seemed as though there was pressure to close down the feeding of the hungry over on Flagler — almost like there could be more housing there but only if they stopped feeding the homeless. In other places, thankfully not here, feeding the homeless has been made a crime…

        • Hey Naja:

          While nutrition is not SHAL’s main mission, it is something that SHAL had started previously with breakfast being served in the mornings because we realized the importance of starting the very long day with a little something and some coffee. (Mike and his crew and volunteers do an amazing job with that.)

          We can’t be sure, but a lot of the Soup Kitchen’s clients were also SHAL clients, maybe a good majority. While I’m sure it’s not the intention to exclude anyone, I really don’t think that there too many who fall through the cracks. Tom Callahan and the SOS Mission do a wonderful job in filling in some of that, especially for those with a place to stay who can take free food in bulk.

          John Miller
          SHAL

  8. Naja, you should write no more about KOTS, until you and Arnaud both have stayed there a few nights, as ordinary people, not as the blue paper publishers with a video recorder. Dress down. Go there. Shower there. Sleep there. Eat the breakfast, which was coffee and donuts or sweet rolls when I was there so many night last year. Really nutritious. Do not tell anyone when you are going. Then you will have some standing to write about KOTS. Not before.

    Nobody banned from KOTS, put out for a while, or not allowed there by their doctor, can go to KOTS to eat. Because they don’t spend the night after eating.

    It is because I am a lawyer, Naja, and I really did practice law, in the trenches, representing many different kinds of client with different kinds of legal issues, that I have zero confidence in any kind of due process procedure being client-friendly at KOTS.

    Yes, Sam Kaufman is represenint Kari pro bono, in a case where she was given a citation for trespass by 5 poice officers in 4 police cruisers, for sitting on the ground behnd Winn-Dixie, as she waited for the mail in the P.O. there to be put into the post office boxes. She was expecting a letter and money from her mother.

    Sam had approached me, chiding me for not already havung asked him to help Kari. So I called him and he said he would take that case, one of 2 trespass cases by KWPD, the other one already dropped by the State Attorney. Sam says this one he is handling he cannot see Judge Miller not dismissing it, given there again is no landowner wanting to prosecute Kari. That’s why the other case was dismissed. The Public Defender handled that case. But for Sam, the Public Defender would handle both cases. Which got Kari’s probation violated and she had to turn herself into the jail over two arrests I say never should have been made, but what the heck, she was homeless.

    But why bore you with that, given how little interest you and Arnaud have shown in reporting homeless peoples stories. The run of the mill homeless stores. Heart wrenching. Maddening. Want to pull your hair out. Might report one tomorrow at goodmorningkeywest.com, as it turned part of my day upside down today. And seriously turned Kari’s day upside down.

    You can view me as a homeless person you and Arnaud took in, Naja. And that’s an accurate view. But if that’s all you see. If you do not see the truly hard and varied work I have done to try to help Key West and its people, and the Florida Keys and its people, for no pay, then you missed the entire point.

    I have felt that as I moved toward leaving your home, and after leaving your and Arnaud’s home, that the level of your main weekly article seemed to diminish in impact, punch. Perhaps no linkage, but it that what felt.

    I have no hard feelings that you, as it obviously was not Araud’s call, based on what he told me, wanted me to move on. You both were most generous and and I understood you wanted that space back for guests, your kids and their friends, and I was telling Kari and other people for a good while it was time for me to move on, but I was dreading it, if it meant living on the street again.

    But then, had I not gone in that direction, I would not have standing to write some of what I write these days. I would not have unhinged SHAL and the City’s squeeze on homeless people banned from KOTS or kicked out for a while. Who, until I called the city’s bluff, by going to the police station and saying either get me into KOTS, or let me stay here at night, or arrest me and take me to jail. Now any homeless person banned from or kicked out of KOTS for a while can do the same, instead of being at risk to being arrested and jailed simply for being homeless and having no place inside to sleep.

    It should be required of SHAL that it post in plain view at KOTS, that clients who are kicked out for a while, or banned, can sleep in public places in the city, the law requires that. Public places such as the police station, the fire stations, new city hall, the city parks, public sidewalks.

    Anyone who actually read the back up to SHAL’s presentation to the city commission, about KOTS and for SHAL running the new KOTS and building it, and who heard John Miller speak about that to the city commission, would see a bit different spin that what John weaves here at the blue paper.

    The proper law firm to take KOTS to task over due process, as you certainly know, Naja, would be the same, or a similar law firm, the ACLU hired to prosecute the Pottinger case. i have no licence to practice law in Florida. I cannot prosecute that case, and I cannot imagine a private lawyer prosecuting it. Perhaps the backdoor way is for the Public Defender, case by case, to defend homeless people banned from KOTS, who are arrested for lsleeping elsewhere, to cite the Citizen article about me, as the Defendant’s Exhibit 1.

    Perhaps, I really would like to see it happen, you, Naja, and Arnaud, and John Miller and Mike Tolbert, and former city commissioner Teri Johnston, who might be lurking behind John, maybe like a speech writer or teleprompter, should be given a full dose, for just a few moments, of what the angels run through me just on an average Sloan day. The did that, once, to my previous wife, in her sleep, and she said it was the worst thing she had ever felt. And then, she was told in her sleep, “God wanted you to know what it is like for Sloan all the time.”

    She said to me that she’d had no idea. Nor could she, until she was given me inside of her, or rather, she was put inside of me. Likewise, until you and Arnaud spend nights at KOTS, bathe there, hang there, like ordinary KOTS clients, incognito, you cannot know KOTS.

    • Not really sure what you are after Sloan. The government is not required to provide shelter. What the Pottinger case points out is that it is unconstitutional to criminalize human existence. If someone has nowhere to go indoors then the government is prohibited from jailing that person for doing things outdoors in public places that must be done by virtue of that person simply being alive. Sleeping for example.

      You complain about KOTS: you say the donuts they serve for breakfast are not nutriciius, that they should feed everyone – not just those that will spend the night, that their bathrooms are not clean enough for your taste, that those with whom you had to share a room were too loud and kept you awake. But Sloan, the government is not required to provide shelter and food. There are many people on earth without shelter in much harsher places than the Florida keys. You yourself had a hand in the banning of Frisbee Dave from KOTS – so apparently you have no beef with the concept of banning certain people from KOTS.

      Getting guidelines and an appeal process put in place probably wouldnt take much more than a formal petition by a city commissioner. Convincing a Commissioner to bring that forward and wirking with SHAL on that concept could happen if done in good faith. But you dont want to use your skills for that. So don’t. No big deal.

      I’m not inclined to spend my energy proving that KOTS is not a 5 star hotel and that the people there are not perfect in every way. I know that without sleeping there.

      People I interviewed were grateful for what KOTS provides. I see no point in slamming the people who provide those services – and the accusations of criminal activity you have made in your blog are simply not credible. (My angels tell me so.)

      This KOTS thing goes round and round – you gripe about earthly things like donuts and showers but want to do the fixing outside this realm. Does any of this chatter matter?

      Wouldn’t simply bringing a sandwhich to a hungry person make more sense?

      The real gripe, in my view, might be with the church over on Flagler that’s been trying (and now has succeeded) in (to quote a former City Attorney) “grinding your old friend’s soup kitchen into the dirt.”

  9. P.S. just in from my homeless woman friend who has tried to help me get Kari’s bike and backpack secured, re that and the KOTS client found dead on the beach:

    Morning Sloan. God willing i will be heading over to retrieve Kari’s bike after Omar’s service.
    By the way Diane the blond said that the guy on the beach was killed cuz he owed people $.
    Sounds believable down here & she seemed to speak it with some authority just fyi

  10. The bill I now would send for this one, if I could find a place to send it and payment would be forthcoming, would be $10,000.

    Of course, that’s pure fantasy.

    And just as pure fantasy that I have a real job. Or any job at all.

    Certainly not by Key West’s definition. Nor by humanity’s.

    Chow maim

  11. I’d like to point out that Frisbee Dave was re admitted to KOTS and is doing much better and without the help and support of SHAL, KOTS, employees and volunteers the future of homeless people in Key West would be very grim. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I’m grateful that SHAL/KOTS helped me as I’m living proof that it is possible to get off the street but it takes a lot of “work” and alot less “complaining”. We work extremely hard everyday/night in giving homeless people a safe clean place to sleep and when you have just one person constantly bashing us it makes our job much harder so instead of constantly being negative about everything SHAL/KOTS does maybe you should try being positive and help others situations and your own. I can vouch for everything John has said as quickly as I can dismiss false accusations and gossip.

  12. If I remember correctly, I read somewhere that 98% of the Key West homeless population are from somewhere north of the Monroe County line and arrived in Key West as indigent, homeless, unemployed, drug addicted, mentally challenged…or whatever else that would ensure they wouldn’t be one of our typically model citizens.

    I’m all in favor of taking care of the 2% who are our own, but it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the Key West taxpayer to house, feed and care for anyone who can somehow find their way to the end of US1.

    • Ben, you are right about KW taking care of its own homeless. But, legally, the city cannot make its non-native homeless leave. Besides, why would the city do that, when its official creed, adopted by city commission resolution, is “one human family?” But back to your point.

      Back in 2003 and 2004, when the city was talking about building a homeless shelter, because I had convinced the city, if its police kept harassing and/or arresting homeless people simply because they were sleeping outside at night, I would put the city into federal court under the Pottinger case, which it had taken me and local lawyer Sam Kaufman, now a city commissioner, maybe 3 years to convince the city leaders actually applied to the city, as well as to the city of Miami, against whom the suit was originally filed by the ACLU on behalf of homeless people, because Miami was using its police to drive homeless people out of the city, I advised the city, the county commission and the sheriff not to build KOTS. As did Sam advise that. As did Father Stephen Braddock and his righthand man Charles Davis, a dear friend of mine, also so advise the city. We told them the shelter would be a den of drugs, sex, thievery, fighting and disease.

      The city and county leaders ignored us. The city built KOTS without any permits, claiming much later it was an “emergency”, as homeless people, thanks to Sam and me and the Pottinger case, were allowed to camp on public lands in Key West, such as the bridle path across from Smather’s Beach, Higgs Beach, Bayview Park, and other places in plain view. That came about after Frisibee Dave’s camp in the wetlands was viewed by city leaders, including City Commissioner Merilee McCoy, County Commissioner Sonny McCoy’s wife. Dave’s camp, which I had visited once at his request, was a pig sty. A huge pile of debris, garbage and refuse, including his own feces, close to his tent. The wetlands were closed to homeless people camping there, and since they had to be allowed to sleep somewhere at night, they moved their camps into plain view as indicated up above.

      I told the city and county leaders to just leave the camps be. I told them they would come to wish they had not built a homeless shelter. And when KOTS was opened, run by a man hired by the city, who knew nada about homeless people, KOTS instantly was what Sam Kaufman, Steve Braddock, Charles Davis and I had told them it would be. It didn’t take the city long to start begging Braddock and FKOC to take over and run KOTS. Braddock told the city FKOC would do it, if Charles Davis agreed to run KOTS. But Charles had moved back to Nevada. So, he would have to be contacted. Charles replied, yes, he would do it, if he got to call all the shots. Braddock presented that to the powers that be. They all agreed to it. Davis moved back to Key West and assumed control of KOTS. The sheriff provided jail trusties to clean up KOTS every morning after the homeless clients had all left. Davis was mentoring the trusties, like he was their father. Davis was mentoring homeless clients, like he was their father. He treated them to one movie at night, IF they had behaved the previous night. If there had been acting out, there was no movie. In case you are wondering, today, there are several movies a night, regardless of how it went the night before.

      Back then much the same was being done to try to help homeless people get back onto their feet. Or leave the area, as is being done today. Homeless were helped to get IDs, if they had no IDs. If they wanted to go back to friends and/or family, they were given free one-way bus ticket. If they wanted counseling, they were able to get it. If they really wanted to try to get straightened out, they went to rebab, if they were addicts; then they went into Florida Keys Outreach Shelter, which requires clean urine on entry and random urine tests given to insure clean urine. Dirty urine resulted in immediate moving out of FKOC, regardless of time of day or night, or weather conditions. Samuel’s House was offering a similar program, but only for women, and women with young children. FKOC implemented a women’s shelter to supplement its men’s shelter.

      That continued to maybe 2011, when the city was sued by the marina and condos across the canal, alleging KOTS was a nuisance and should be closed for that reason and because it had been built without any permits. The idiot lawyer who filed that lawsuit, Barton Smith, sued FKOC, too. FKOC immediately gave the city 30 days’ notice that it was giving KOTS back to the city. Mayor Cates called me raising hell about what Braddock had done. I asked Mayor Cates if he had offered that the city would hold FKOC harmless in the lawsuit? No. Well, that did you expect FKOC would do. The city got FKOC sued. FKOC had nothing to do with KOTS being built. FKOC had told the city not to build KOTS. FKOC had told the city it would not run KOTS for the city, if the city built KOTS. Then, after the city went ahead an built KOTS, and it was a disaster, the city begged Braddock to save the city from its own stupid mistake. Which Braddock very reluctantly did. At a wage that barely covered FKOD’s costs.

      Braddock never liked running KOTS. It was not in sync with what FKOC was about. Clean urine, 12 Step daily meetings, obeying house rules, doing house chores, and getting paying work were FKOC’s requirement. That cannot be required of KOTS clients, because the city has to provide them a shelter, if the city wants to use its police to arrest and jail them for sleeping outside at night, if they don’t use the shelter. That’s the Pottinger case, in a nutshell.

      KOTS always was substandard. The construction. The wiring. The plumbing. The FEMA trailer combination toilets/showers. The hot water heater too small. There always was only so much that could be done to try to keep KOTS sanitary. On top of that, many clients were dirty, diseased. They did not bathe often. They did not wash their clothes often. KOTS had no laundry capacity for that. KOTS stopped letting them store their possessions there, because they kept stealing from each other. Most of them were addicts, actively using. Many of them, using, or not, were mentally ill. If they were addicts, actively using, there was nothing that could be done to turn them around. That’s the first step in an addict turning around. FKOC knew that. That’s why it required clean urine on entry into its program. That’s why it kept giving clients random urine tests. That’s still how FKOC operates. That’s why did was really glad to be relieved of KOTS. That, and it was barely breaking even running KOTS.

      SHAL, which was on the ropes, offered to take over in FKOC’s place. Braddock and FKOC already had disengaged from SHAL, because it was dysfunctional. Braddock and FKOC aligned with the Continuum of Care. until it started behaving like SHAL had been behaving. Not long after I told SHAL’s executive director Wendy Coles, at a town hall meeting she had pushed, to bring a homeless shelter guru to Key West and the city pay him $20,000, fully applauded by Mayor Cates, that she was way out of her depth and she needed to find a new line of work, she resigned from SHAL. Wendy was SHAL’s first PAID executive director. She created that job. Before that, SHAL was all volunteer. Wendy was replaced by former NY State prosecutor Randi Cohen Brown. About a month after I busted Brown at goodmorningkeywest,com, for ordering KOTS monitors to open and take any money out of uncollected homeless people’s mail, and shred everything else (letters, cards, checks from friends and family, government checks, bills, etc.), Brown resigned. Mike Tolbert called me and said Randi Cohen Brown was an idiot. I said I was glad he had finally figured that out, would he send me an email to that effect, including his reasons for saying it. Yes. But he never sent the email.

      John Miller already was working for SHAL. After Miller moved down here and went to work for SHAL, he contacted me about breaking bread, said he wanted to hear my views. We did that. I never heard from him again. He became SHAL’s interim executive director after Randi Cohen Brown left. Then, he became permanent executive director. He made Tolbert manager of KOTS. I was glad for Tolbert, he and I were good friends. His wife and I were good friends. I had been a regular customer at their BBQ restaurant, before it went busted, due to the long redo of North Roosevelt Blvd.

      It was Mike who told me that Mayor Cates daughter, who had run over and killed a homeless man, had been ticketed by KWPD for turning onto North Roosevelt without yielding. Right out in front of Mike and his wife’s BBQ restaurant. Mike was there, at the scene. But when the homeless man’s family asked Cates’ daughter to just pay for the funeral expenses, she declined. Her family declined. So, the dead homeless man’s family sued just for the funeral expenses. When I had first heard of the tragedy, I had called Craig to say, since I’d been homeless, maybe if I talked with her daughter, I could help her get through it. She was all torn up about it, Craig told me. And their entire family was all torn up about it. Thanks, though, but they would handle it within the family.

      After winning his first mayor’s race in 2009, at his victory party, Craig thanked me for getting him elected without a run off. Then, his campaign manager thanked me. Then. his wife had thanked me. Then, Craig asked me if I would be on his Mayor’s Homeless Advisory Committee. He hoped I would, since I knew so much about homeless people and homeless issues. Sure, I said. I never heard another word from his about that committee. Much later, Steve Braddock told me he’d had a similar experience. He’d emailed Craig about being on the committee and Craig had not replied. Then, he’d resent the email, and still not reply. When I published that, Craig told me Steve had never asked to be in the committee. I then published Steve’s emails. Steve attributed Craig’s behavior to his daughter having killed a homeless man. I agreed with Steve. That was a couple of years before Craig blew up to me about Steve giving KOTS back to the city, because the city had gotten FKOC sued. The 2 people in Key West who truly knew the homeless scene, me, from having lived it, Steve, from devoting his life and ministry to trying to help homeless people turn their lives around, Mayor Cates shucked, in favor of Wendy Coles and SHAL – BECAUSE SHAL was running KOTS.

      Ironically, some years later, County Commissioner David Rice, a PhD clinical psychologist by profession, who had operated the Guidance Clinics of the Florida Keys for many years, through which many homeless addicts had passed, said at a public meeting in the Harvey Government Center in Key West, there are 2 people in the Florida Keys to whom he looks on homeless issues: Sloan Bashinsky and Father Steve Braddock. You could not know that, since Rice’s remarks were never reported by any of the local newspapers, nor by US 1 Radio.

      Ditto, Dr. Rice’s remarks at the “homeless summit” hosted by the city and county commissions in the Harvey Government some time before. Dr. Rice said he agreed with Sloan’s remarks during citizen comments: that there is no solution to the homeless problem, there is only how much money do you wish to spend trying to manage it; that you do not mix homeless addicts in a shelter with homeless people who are not addicts, IF you are trying to rehab homeless people; that Key West needs to build its own drunk tank and have its police take homeless addicts there, instead of the jail or KOTS or the hospital, using the Marchman Act as legal authority for doing that. That, too, was not reported by the local newspapers, nor by US 1 Radio. Only at goodmorningkeywest.com was it reported.

      At the later homeless conference, hosted by Steve Braddock and FKOC, the experts all were from the mainland. They chided Key West for thinking its homeless problem was unique, or more severe, than other Florida Cities. They said all over Florida cities are complaining about their homeless people who had come there from somewhere “up north”, because their cites were so wonderful, the climate was better than “up north”. Those mainland homeless experts’ solution was to put every homeless person into free housing. That was far cheaper than how Key West and most cities and counties around America, not using housing first, were trying to manage their homeless problem. Around America. The problem is all over America. During citizen comments, I told those homeless experts I was the local homeless expert, because I had lived on the street her off and on for a good while, and I was a lawyer, and we have thousands of people in Key West on the verge of going homeless, because they cannot afford Key West’s terribly high cost of housing, and those people need to be saved first, so they will not become homeless and then be far more difficult to save. That was not reported in any of the local newspapers, either. Only at goodmorningkeywest.com was it reported.

      So, Ben, having taken you briefly down memory lane, in case you were wondering about where I’m coming from, I go back to the 98 percent of homeless people you say, perhaps accurately, are not from Key West. What do you propose be done with them? Line them up against a wall and shoot them? In fact, many of them would be better off dead than continuing to live in the way they now live, wasted by their favorite drugs, one of which is booze, without which Key West would be a ghost town. Meanwhile, Ben, the homeless people KOTS bans for life, or kicked out for a few days, a couple of weeks. or longer, and the homeless people whose doctors won’t let them stay at KOTS, because it is vector for numerous serious contagious diseases, mostly due to the clients carrying those diseases, but also due to how terribly difficult it is to keep that shelter clean and sanitized (safe), have to be allowed by the city to sleep somewhere at night. That’s the Pottinger case. So, those people are permitted to sleep in public and quasi-public places, according to Sam Kaufman at a recent city commission meeting. Such as the police station and benches, according the KWPD and KW City Government Spokeswoman Alyson Crean, as reported in the Key West Citizen. KOTS banning and temporarily kicking out clients has returned the city to 2004, when homeless people were sleeping in plain view all over Key West.

      It might or might not interest you, Ben but I could write a very long report about Frisbee Dave, whose tent was right next to mine on the bridle path in 2004, when the city, county and sheriff were being told by people who actually knew something, they would live to regret building a homeless shelter. Now you have people running that shelter, whose jobs depend on that shelter staying open, and on the new shelter being built, complaining about my ongoing minority reports about both shelters, and the people the city is relying on to operate them.

      Did you, Ben, by chance, ever see the movie, “Minority Report”? If not, I heartily recommend it. The punch line reflected a very old theme, which is the majority (the herd) never is right, and never has been, and never will be. History has proven that over and over again.

      John Miller, Mike Tolbert and SHAL should be raising bloody hell with Mayor Cates and the city commissioners about building the new homeless shelter yesterday, and building it in a way that is easy for it to be cleaned, using quality construction, wiring, plumbing. Like will be done with the new animal shelter, which will cost 5 times more than the city is looking to spend on the new KOTS SHAL is proposing the city build, instead of something you, Ben, for example, would want to live in if you were homeless. Or you would want your children to live in, if they were homeless. And a restaurant quality kitchen, too, for the new soup kitchen. One human family, right? Even if you are not from Key West, right? Even of you are gay, right? Or black, or brown, or red, right? Or Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoists, New Age, Pagan, Atheist, right? But not if you are homeless, right?

      Well, Jesus was homeless, and he told his disciples, as they did to the least of those people around them, the poor, the lepers, they did unto him. Jesus trained me. Him, and Archangel Michael and Magdalene Melchizedek. They are on me like you would never care to have happen to you. They are on me all the time. They brought me to Key West in late 2000. This is where they stationed me. This is where they now have me stationed. People who don’t want me being here, who don’t like my minority reports, need to file their complaint with those three angels, who own me, over whom I have nada control. They flat ordered me in dream to get involved up to my chinny, chin in this blue paper article and the ensuing reader comments.

      Last night, the only person in Key West I know who is being run by angels, we only just me a couple of weeks ago, showed up where I was sitting on a bench reading a novel about a kidon, which is a Hebrew word for assassin. In this novel, a Mossad assassin. The fellow and I talked about many things I would not bother to talk about with my other friends in Key West, because it would mean nothing to them, or they would not believe it. I told him what it looks to me my involvement in Key West’s homeless arena is really about is Key West made one human family its official creed, and God said, okay, we’ll see about that, and the city’s homeless people will be how we see about it.

      On last thing, Ben. I see and hear and feel and sense and get information in ways that fellow last night can appreciate, but nobody else I know in Key West or the Florida Keys appreciates. If I accuse someone of something, it is because I have gotten information that justifies the accusation, even though it cannot be proved in a human way. Or not in a way most humans would accept. It was not for nothing that Arnaud Girard sometimes called me the prophet when I lived that year in aggregate in his and Naja’s home. Naja never go there, but Arnaud did. He somehow knew. I have experienced a great deal of grief over the years, because of what I learned about other people, then was put to air it out. I expect that to continue. I dreamt last night about your comment, I was pinned by our comment, could not escape in the dream. You comment was a pawn which had just been moved to the end line and promoted to a queen making my king totally exposed, no way out, capitulate. So I suppose we both can blame the angels for giving me that dream.

      Vaya con, Dios, Ben.

      • Lets see if I understand this? Charles Davis ran such A tight ship He allowed clients to leave contraband on the property for jail inmates to find and use? OK Great Job there! Shal Relocated 350 people? Now if those people were here in FKOC programs Fkoc would be receiving money from them for using the programs they offer them disguised as help when in reality its a low rent Flop house if you willing to not use. House meetings that interfere with any REAL key west job that makes you enough money to be self sufficient.Not ble to work clubs at night. Again Great job hindering people! Housing first has been accepted nation wide and on federal level as the best work model to actually afford somebody real shot at ending the homeless cycle. As for you personally A lawyer? Educated? How many times did you volunteer to clean the bathrooms you complain about? How many times have you in your infinite wisdom looked at the ads in other places that afford you a decent place to live on your meager income? And More importantly if your such good friends with FKOC steve Braddock Why has he not offered a great man of such vast wisdom a job or bed even at his organization? Just another spoiled rich kid who got old made bad choices hates himself and is peeved the rest of the world will not give you what you want. At Least FKOC has a monetary motive for what they do. you on the other hand just wanna feel important. But your not your just another of those addicted mentally ill homeless people you constantly whine about! Get over yourself look at a map you notice US1 runs north as well as south?

        • I’m curious if Sloan can point to a single homeless program on the entire planet that meets his exacting standards. Perhaps, that would be a better place for the destination homeless like himself.

        • Let’s see, “Truth”, if I understand this.

          You show up calling yourself truth, but you hide who you really are behind a pen name.

          Your style of writing, mechanically, syntax, grammar, tone remind me of many things I have seen Mike Tolbert write on line.

          I know from Mike himself that he has many friends who work the Duval Street clubs, including the women who perform there before live audiences and behind the scenes. Strippers and escorts.

          I imagine FKOC figures working in such places, where a Duval stripper/escort once told me off duty young KWPD offiers providing security in those clubs are trafficking in illegal drugs, is not conducive to recovering addicts recovering.

          I imagine FKOC does not view staying out late at night in Key West, drug central, according to Naja and Arnaud even, is conducive to recovering addicts recovering.

          I imagine that has something to do with FKOC’s night curfew. 10 p.m., I think it was when I stayed there in 2003.

          I imagine Steve Braddock recalls when I stayed there and was their client, recovering from life-saving MRSA surgery, and running for mayor at Steve and planning commissioner Bill Verge’s request, that eventually it came to pass that it morphed from me being FKOC’s client, to FKOC being my client, and that did not go down well at FKOC, although Charles Davis told me privately that I was right, yet what a firestorm had been started.

          So I left their program and went to living on the streets of Key West again, where it was much more peaceful for me, given the hell I was catching at FKOC for reporting that one elderly man’s room smelled awful and that needed to addressed.

          FKOC correctly, in my view, requires its applicants and clients to be sober (clean urine) at all times. Flunk one piss test, leave FKOC immediately. That’s a slow way to go at rehab, there are plenty of drop outs and later there is recidivism, but sober is crucial for recovering addicts. Not sober and recovery are incompatible.

          Housing first advocates disagree. Give homeless addicts free housing, then address the addiction. That’s housing first. In it’s pure form. SHAL/FKOC have their own definition. 1st. last and deposit, and the client pays part, or all, of the rent from wages or monthly government check,

          FKOC charges clients $85 a week for housing. If they have clean urine. I learned of that rent the other day, when I dropped by FKOC’s entry shelter on Patterson Avenue to see if I could get into their program again. The nice fellow at the front desk said they are first come, first serve, and there are no vacancies currently. Check back later. As I recall, that’s always been how FKOC operated.

          As for Charles Davis, but or him coming back from Nevada to clean up and straighten out KOTS, which was a disaster the city well knew it had created by its own self, if Charles had not come back, the city very well might have closed KOTS in self-defense, to avoid being sued for something awful that happened at KOTS. But for Charles Davis, there very well might be no KOTS today.

          Just my fool’s opinion: SHAL, John Miller and Mike Tolbert are not worthy to lace up the sandals of Charles Davis back then, and they should be down on their knees kissing the ground on which those sandals walked. For without KOTS, SHAL would have no reason to be.

      • Sloan, Jesus wasn’t homeless. His parents, Joseph and Mary, left their home in Nazareth for Bethlehem, the town of David, because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David. They were required to travel to Bethlehem and register for the Roman census. They apparently didn’t have hotel reservations, and that is how they ended up in a manger. Luke 2:2

        • Father Stephen Braddock and I have discussed this many times. But set Steve aside, and heed from Jesus’ own mouth in the Gospels:

          I vividly recall one afternoon in 2001 at Higgs Beach when Glad Tidings Tabernacle Church was feeding the homeless, as it did on Sunday and either Wednesday or Thursday afternoons.

          We homeless were standing in line, perhaps 100 of us, waiting to be preached to a little while before they served us, as was their custom.

          When one of their lay ministers told us we would not be homeless if we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I hollered, “What’s wrong with being homeless, Jesus was homeless!”

          That ended the preaching and began the feeding of the hungry.

          While I was eating, young Pastor Mark, who had been assigned homeless people by the church, as his ministry, walked over to me and asked me why I said Jesus was homeless? I’d had a number of conversations with Mark. I could tell he had been called into the ministry, and I also could see he had a long, hard road ahead of him, many tests, before he was mature in his ministry.

          I asked Mark, you don’t read the Bible?

          What do you mean?

          Out of his own mouth in the Gospels, Jesus said he was homeless.

          Where in the gospels?

          When a man told Jesus he wanted to follow him and Jesus sad he said the foxes had their dens and the birds had their nests. but the Son of Man had no place to lay down his head.

          That’s not what that passage means, that Jesus was homeless.

          What else could it mean?

          Jesus had a home, he lived with his mother, Pastor Mark said.

          Where in the Gospels does it say Jesus lived with his mother during his ministry?

          Matthew 8:19:

          …19And one of the scribes came to Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 21

          I think, Ben, it was the next year at the same place that a Glad Tidings lay minister told we homeless standing in line waiting to be fed, “If you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you will not be homless.”

          That time, I hollered, “There has been enough of that! Everyone person in this line, but one Jewish man (Frisbee Dave) has accepted Jesus as Lord, several times, and we are still homeless.”

          Pastor Omar, who fed us every Sunday morning at Higgs, also kept telling us if we accepted Jesus as Lord, we would not be homeless.

          To his credit, Mike Tolbert fired a KOTS monitor, an evangelist, who was putting those kinds of trips on KOTS clients at KOTS. When I told Mike she needed to be gotten rid of, he said he was already on it.

          He fired her, then someone offered him $3,000 to take her back. Mike told me it was a Christian KOTS client, after he knew another KOTS client he had told the story to, had told me Mike had told him the $3,000 offer had come from someone in the nearby jail. Someone who worked for the Sheriff.

          • Back to Jesus and homeless people, I recall in the Gospels Jesus told his disciples, of the poor and downtrodden around them, as the did to the least of them, they did also to him. I recall he told them elsewhere in the Gospels, the poor would always be with them.

  13. Ben, It is as I said during citizen comments at the county-city homeless summit maybe 3 years ago in the Harvey Government Center, where the panelists were the county and city commissioners, the city and county managers, and the city police chief and the sheriff – the homeless “experts” :

    There is no cure to the homeless problem and the only question is how much money do you want to throw at it?.

    County commissioner David Rice, PhD Psychology, who had run The Guidance Clinics of the Florida Keys for many years, through which clinics many homeless people had passed to dry out, be rehabbed, counseled, said he agreed with what Sloan had said.

    And that he agreed with Sloan, that you don’t mix homeless addicts who are using, with homeless people who are not addicts, if you are trying to rehab homeless people. If that is not your goal, then ….

    Dr. Commissioner Rice also said he agreed with Sloan, that KW needs its own drunk tank, paid for and manned by KW, for its homeless addicts, instead of putting them in the jail or the hospital, or in the shelter.

    Dr. Commissioner Rice said that could be done under the Marchman Act: hold them a few hours, then let them go.

    I had said, keep doing that to drunk or otherwise wasted homeless addicts, day after day, night after night. Picking them up, making them lock up their bicycles, and taking them to the drunk tank, from which they are released when they are more “sober”, and let them find their own way back to their bicycles. Maybe they will get tired of that endless loop. Maybe they will want to dry up, go into rehab, then into a recovery shelter. Maybe they get tired of the endless loop and leave the area altogether.

    KOTs today is a Key West’s homeless drunk tank, where many homeless addicts go for the night, and then are let out in the morning to wander the streets and hang out in the public areas of the city and the county side of Stock Island.

    City police also taking homeless drunks and/or otherwise wasteds to the jail on Stock Island, where they are held a few hours, then released after a few hours – unless the charges against them are aggravated, which often is the case.

    It costs the sheriff a good bit more to house homeless people, because they tend to need detox and other medical care.

    The cost to the rest of the local criminal justice system of jailing and prosecuting homeless people is huge: the state attorney, the public defender, the state department of correction (probation office), the court dockets and calendars are swamped with homeless people – a tsunami, thanks to KWPD arresting and jailing them. Judges are pulling their hair out over it.

    SHAL/KOTS is doing all it can to deport homeless people with one-way bus tickets. This has been an ongoing progrom since I arrived here in 2000. Is the progrom working? SHAL/KOTS says yes. But, is it working? Given how long it was done before SHAL/KOTS started doing it? Given how many homeless people are in Key West now. Given new homeless people are arriving here all the time?

    SHAL/KOTS is just now sticking its toes in “housing first”, which is finding local homeless people who can pay for it, or for part of it, a “cheap” room, usually, in a house. SHAL is finding ways to come up with first, last and deposit, to get homeless people into that kind of housing. Then, who knows how that will go after the 2nd month rent comes due, and the 3rd month rent, and the 4th month … ? Nobody knows, do they?

    You tell me, Ben. If you owned a house in Key West and were renting rooms out in it, which happens all over the city, would you rent a room to a KOTS client who was not able to produce clean urine? Would you trust an active addict to keep the peace in your home after you let him, or her, in? Would you expect him or her to take care of his/her room and not not destroy it and other parts of your house? That’s what SHAL’s homeless first program is asking local property owners to do, Ben. How far do you think that will fly in Key West?

    Do you know. Ben, that SHAL/KOTS banning homeless people for life, and kicking other homeless people out for a shorter time, is putting them back onto the streets of Key West, living here and there like before there was a KOTS? Do you know, Ben, those people have a legal right to sleep on city property at night, if they cannot get into KOTS? They can do that in plain view, like I do every night in the front foyer of the police station.

    I’m curious why Naja did not clear from moderation my reply to “Truth”s attack of me?

    I had dinner with Naja and Arnaud last night, at their home. I told Naja my comment was still in moderation, and I was pretty sure Truth is Mike Tolbert: the writing and thinking style resemble many things I have seen Mike write online. Naja said she’d been busy working on something else. Leaving their home, I reminded Naja of my reply to “Truth”. She said she would get to it.

    Earlier today, my reply to “Truth” still was not showing here, so I called Naja and left her a voicemail to call me if she was having trouble with my comment. No call back. Now, Ben, I see your reply to Truth. But not mine. Where’s the “due process” in that? KOTS never heard of due process.

    [Note from Naja: Sloan, you should look up “due process” as it doesn’t apply. Your comment was very long and full of accusations of criminal behavior and it also went off on all sorts of tangents.]

    [Note: The rest of this comment has been removed by the moderator as it contained personal insults and that is not the purpose of this open forum. In essence it says Sloan and some other people sloan has spoken with don’t like the manager of KOTS.]

  14. Sloan , you are wishing for something that never can or should happen. If a homeless shelter was to be nice ,clean and healthy then it would be full to the limits. Is no cure other than have Cates and Lee get tough on the homeless enough to boot them all out of KW. And they could do it. The last place an alcoholic wants is to be behind bars,they want to be in the bars. So take them to jail and they will jump at a chance of a bus ticket to leave and get the next drink. At best all KOTS should be is food, sleep and forced shower. But solves nothing if they spend the next day drinking again. Yes they need help but who will foot the bill ? Tax payers should not pay for this. Solution is close KOTS and put the drunks on a bus headed North. Lower crime and cheaper to put them on a bus than lock them up. No point in homeless staying in KW as they never will work or even try to get a job. They harm the tourist business. Sounds mean but it is the only solution. Word would travel that if you go to KW you will be in jail fast. KOTS looks dam good to a freezing man up north. And that is why they are open. Do you have a workable solution ? As a landlord I would never let a homeless , jobless person move in even if government paid first , last and security. Reason is the system for the landlord to boot them out is too costly.

    • Jiminkeywest –

      The homeless shelter needs to be moved into a facility that came be kept clean more easily, for the sake of the much larger non-homeless residents. Currently, KOTS is a major vector for serious contagious diseases. I have heard many homeless people say their doctors told them not to go to KOTS, it is not safe for them to be there.

      I agree with you. KOTS should be closed. In fact, it never should have been built. But it was, because the city knew I would do it what the ACLU did to Miami, which resulted in Miami losing all say so in its homeless affairs. A federal court has to approve any changes Miami wants to make to the Pottinger case settlement agreement, and so far that court has been stingy toward Miami’s requests to bend and even break that settlement agreement.

      A heap of residential housing was built in Miami for homeless people, just to get them off the streets. Mostly via non-profits did it. That ran its course, and out of steam, ie. out of money, and Miami’s homeless woes are about like they were, I imagine, when the ACLU sued Miami back in the early 1990s, wasn’t it?

      Miami was using its police to drive homeless people away from Miami. The federal court ruled Miami could not do that, nor use its police to stop homeless people from performing life-sustaining activities, such as cooking food, sleeping, relieving themselves, unless the city provided inside places for homeless people to do that and the homeless people refused to go to those shelters. And if they could not get themselves there, they had to be transported there. And only if they then refused to go, could they be arrested and jailed for sleeping outside at night.

      You simply cannot force homeless people onto buses with one-way tickets in America, at least not yet. Who knows when that might become legal? Right now, it’s not legal. Right now, that would be Gestapo. Nazi. Hitler. Method. But take heart, Herr Trump is now our president :-).

      So, if you can’t force homeless people onto buses headed to wherever, what can you do to them? You can force them to sleep in a homeless shelter, and if they don’t, you can arrest and jail them – that’s Pottinger. The city government knows this. But it never was advertised until Alyson Crean, official spokeswoman for both the city and KWPD, was reported in the Key West Citizen, in the article written by Scott Unger about me, that if a homeless person is banned from KOTS, that homeless person can sleep in public places, such as the police station, on benches, for examples.

      That broke the back of the horrible weapon KOTS and SHAL and the city were using on homeless people. No longer do homeless people have to fear the city’s cops, if they are banned from KOTS and HAVE to sleep outside at night. You have Mike Tolbert and John Miller to thank or that, if you are in the mood to give thanks. It was them, and their city masters, Mayor Cates, the 6 city commissioners, the city manager, the city attorney, and KWPD, who set themselves up for the likes of someone who did not fear them, me, to come along and take advantage of the great opening they had provided.

      You are a wise man, Jiminkeywest, saying you would not rent a room to a KOTS client who cannot pass a drug screen. It is not for nothing that FKOC requires applicants into its program to pass drug screens, and to keep passing them randomly given.

      I am well aware that I keep presenting a view that nobody seems to like, and that’s just tough shit. I’m not trying to make anyone happy. I’m not looking to get grant funding. Or to be paid by the city. Or by my readers. I would have starved to death years ago, if I was dependent on my readers to keep me even fed.

      Very simply, as I wrote to Ben earlier in this discussion. There is no cure for the homeless problem facing many cities in America, including Key West. The only question is, how much money to you want to throw at trying to manage homeless people? Most of whom are addicts, and many of those are mentally ill.

      Psychiatric meds do not work on mentally ill people who are addicts and are using their drugs of choice. First, always, to make progress, the addict has to stop using. That’s entirely too simple and obvious, especially in a place like Key West, where Arnaud and Naja tell me from time to time, just the other night even, that drug addiction is a way of life in Key West, it’s everywhere. So why would addicts who are not homeless want to promote homeless people have clean urine, when they themselves have dirty urine?

      KOTS will never require clean urine. It can’t. Because if it did, about 90 percent of its clients would funk the drug screen and not be allowed into the shelter. KOTS employees are who should be given drug screens. When pigs fly.

      So here we are.

  15. “Truth’s” comment did not contain personal insults?

    “Truth” uses a fake name, in the name of truth, which would require using his real name.

    Naja, when you let someone have at another of your readers, and then you delete the slammed reader’s reply, which addressed every point the slammer made, but not in a way that suited you, and certainly would not have suited the slammer, without talking with me, without responding to my phone call about it, after you had told me in your home that you do not like anonymous slams (but you published “Truth”s any way, and then you deleted the links I provided in my reply to Ben, which would have let your readers see for themselves, away from this discussion, what I had submitted, then you, Naja shred due process, just like KOTS shreds it.

    You and Arnaud got hoodwinked, when you published this article and the video painting Mike Tolbert as Jesus Christ returned, feeding a few loaves and fishes with the poor. You and Arnaud have not done your field research, which I have told you to do, as I did it. Ask a bunch of homeless people how they feel about Mike Tolbert> A bunch, like 100. Stay a bunch of nights at KOTS, like 100, or so, like I did last year, and then tell your readers about KOTS. That’s what investigative journalists would have done.

    • NO Sloan “Truth’s” comments did not contain personal insults. “Truth” asked legitimate questions. “Due process” is a requirement of government. The Blue Paper is not the government. Our comment policy reflects our desire to encourage open discussion about issues, but not to provide a platform for the spread of personal insults, gossip, and unsubstantiated accusations of criminal behavior. If there is, as you say, an army of homeless people who “do not like” how the Manager of KOTS is running things and there are indeed legitimate gripes then you could be helpful [via your training and experience as an attorney] by providing them with guidance in how to obtain a meaningful hearing about the issues they complain of.

  16. Naja, I’m talking about due process in a much larger sense, one I have to live with daily.

    You know very well, Naja. that the people living at KOTS will not press the issues. How many times have you and Arnaud lamented to me people coming to you with treat stories, but they didn’t want their names on them, even though they were the eye and ear witnesses.

    Homeless people are the most at risk people in Key West, and everywhere in America, other than children. They live in fear of being mauled, or worse, by the “establishment”. You and Arnaud both know that. How many times have I heard you and Arnaud blast the establishment for how it treats homeless people?

    Yet neither of you cared enough to even stay one night at KOTS.

    As would have canvassing homeless people about Mike Tolbert.

    Which would have told you plenty.

    Which, ergo, you did not, do not, want to know.

  17. There is choice to not be homeless. It starts when you are born. Your parents raise you and send you to school. If smart you figured life out by the time you were 18. In my case figured most of it out at 14. Find work and join the rest of the world and don’t look for handouts. Are jobs waiting for any really willing to work. With a low education your not going to be living in a house in KW without working 60 hours a week. KW is not a good choice if you have no skills. Where you live is up to you. Pick a state that is affordable and you can work at Walmart and live reasonably OK. Nobody owes anyone a dam thing. You provide for yourself or do without. There will always be some that prefer being homeless over actually working. They are a burden on tax payers and are enough laws to let them play the system. Key West dam sure has no need or use for them. Anytime they don’t like the deal in KW jump on a bus.

    I see no point in bashing KOTS, simply don’t go to it. It is all KW has to offer so take it or go away. What is it you hope to gain ?

  18. I spent almost 6 months in Key West during the winter of 2015-2016. And besides the July like temps and the friendly local populace….as a THEN homeless person with no real direction, IT WAS HELL ON EARTH!!!!! I stayed at KOTS on a nightly basis and held a job after awhile at Publix. In March 2016 I suffered a brain bleed and stroke one morning as I was leaving KOTS, taken to LKMC and life flighted to Miami where I recovered. Thank God!!! While in Miami I did some heavy duty soul searching and deep thinking about my situation and what lay ahead and decided Key West is no place for common blue collar Joes to eke out a living. Unless you are upper middle class and have employment to match…stay away as you will find nothing but misery and heartache!!!! (Unless of course you are there as a tourist). Upon my return to Key West from Miami I took advantage of SHAL’s offer to provide me with a one way bus ticket out of the Keys….THANK JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I came back to Montana and got my s%@t together and got into veterans transitional housing through the VA, became a CNA, went to school and became a medical assistant, got a super great job doing something I LOVE, and enrolled in the University of Montana studying to become an RN. I am currently in the process of moving to Baltimore, Maryland where I accepted an even better job at Johns Hopkins and going to finish my degree at the University of Maryland.

    Come on folks!!! Seriously???? KOTS is a homeless shelter, not the Biltmore!!!! It is there a temporary crutch…..not a permanent prosthesis!!!!! All I want to say is Thank God for KOTS and SHAL. Without their assistance I would have no doubt become another death certificate on file in Monroe County, Florida. Again….THANK YOU!!!!!!