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Down here where the nights are gay and the sun doesn’t shine daily on out solar panels because Key West doesn’t like solar energy, I dropped by a friend’s place yesterday hoping to get cheered up from all the stress of waddling for mayor, and he said he had attended AA meetings the past three days, but no, he was not yet back on the wagon, and I said, well, everything in moderation, isn’t that what they say in AA meetings?, drinking and attending AA meetings is moderation, and he said yes, moderation is good, moderating moderation is very good, and he said he was wanting to go to the store and get beer, and would I stick around until he got back?, and I said I would if I could help him drink it, but it makes me ill, and I’m tired and need to go home an take a nap, to rest up for the election today, which I surely would win if the number of people I pissed off during this race were used to decide the winner, I’d get more than the 74 percent that crushed the bring in more and bigger cruise ships referendum last year, and he nodded sagely, but don’t I want to stay until he gets back from the beer store?, and it’s still late morning, I say it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and I’m tired and need to go home and rest up for the election, I was up and down all night, and the night before too, coming up with lots of ways to piss people off, it’s hard work, tiring, and the election’s tomorrow, and moderation is good, and pedaling my bicycle away, I think, well, I could have suggested he attend an AA meeting after buying the beer, or instead of, and I am glad he has disability and a cheap Housing Authority rental apartment, otherwise he’d be dead, homeless would have to wait, and I pedal to where I stay and crash in my bed and sleep and dream that I upset some lawyers, or somebody, in what I wrote about homeless people in yesterday’s true lies: Bahama Village and homeless people are part of Key West’s so-called one human family post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, so I drag my still tired body, which feels like it swallowed all of Key West’s raw sewerage, which it has, out of bed, and I go online and go back to the hard work of pissing off as many people as possible.
A wonderful opportunity was offered by mi amigo Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, semi-retired, when he replied to yesterday’s post:
Sloan: The homeless are human beings —
not a piece garbage to dispose of…
(empathy is the key)—-Sincerely, Jerry
Tell that to Neo-Nazis.
Alas, homeless people could do a bit more at times to try to keep the peace. A bunch of them have been coming into ________ throughout the day asking for ice water in cups, not spending anything, and hanging out nearby. Another homeless man has been coming in each morning and buying a cup of coffee, then sitting outside at a table with his girlfriend drinking it for a while, then getting a free refill. Later, he is coming in asking for ice water during the day. He’s dirty, the waitresses don’t want to touch anything he’s touched, from fear of catching something. Having lived among street people, which is what I’m describing here, I personally do not care to spend much time in close quarters with them. Stopping to talk a while, hear some stories, tell some stories is okay most of the time. But most of them are off somewhere else, and on something, and they are not all there. In some ways it’s like an insane asylum without walls. Not that this is new. Homeless people have been around a good while. Centuries. Ages. But it’s come to acute crisis in America. Perhaps elsewhere. But I’m not elsewhere. Most street people are damaged people. Society has no cure. In most cases, society caused the damage in one way or another, including trauma in childhood and branching from there. Having been a street person, having been on the receiving in of segments of society’s hatred of homeless people, having been told in church soup kitchen lines that I would not be homeless if I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, having gotten to know sick in the head and heart and soul homeless people as well as I know you and Donna, for example, I came away from living on the street and relating to homeless people, and not relating to them, and trying to avoid them, especially at night when I wanted quiet so I could sleep, and from having stayed at KOTS, but only briefly, and from having slept on living room floors in people’s homes, and in their spare camping vehicles, and from having to cope with their peculiarities, I’d rather sleep outside or in my own vehicle, or in my own tent where it’s quiet and I don’t have to navigate other people’s psychology in close quarters. I ended up with a very different view of street people, is what I’m saying, and it left me quick to defend them from Neo-Nazi treatment, but otherwise not a raving homeless activist.
Sloan; for a majority -Homelessness is a disease– one
that has a contagion attached to it —too close and too
much in contact is fearful—-we could image oneself in
a similar condition –we do not want to entertain this notion
touching -yes has a repugnant aspect but it is not breed from
unavailability of a decent shower–it is the fear of a set of
circumstances, and fate that will put us into that FAR DOWN
our social/economic scale –in this rat race of a society–
touching “homelessness is terrifying” —on some level of
consciousness… not just from ordinary dirt–it goes far
deeper. Sincerely -Jerry
Agreed, that’s how a majority view homelessness. A disease, thus it surely can be fixed, although medicine has not able to fix greed, prejudice, mental illness, narcotics addiction …
There are people who view homeless people as vermin to be exterminated, or at least rounded up and put somewhere … Two such people of note in Key West are City Commissioner Tony Yaniz and Margaret Romero … The percent of votes Margaret receives in today’s mayor’s election will indicate the percentage of people in Key West who share her and Tony’s view toward homeless people … Am reminded of Nazi Germany, somebody must be blamed for all those past failures …
Homeless people being mainstream’s shadow, reflection back, is not a popular view, but then the truth tends to be as unpopular today as it has been in the past. Touch a homeless person, today’s leper, you might catch “it” and become homeless yourself, one pay check away, there but for the grace of God – or contract MRSA is another possibility.
My take on street people is most of them simply gave up on mainstream, it failed them; it is not something they wish to return to; they numb themselves as much as possible, waiting for the Lord to take them – yes, most of them are religious, believe in God, most of them I knew, know, Christians …
Mainstream did not work for me, but that is not why I became homeless. I didn’t care for it, longed to be over it, even though mainstream still does not fit me, it’s a parallel universe into which I pop in and out of …
Sloan: A well thought out—beautifully written essay of yours— that captures the essence of Societies view towards
Although, I am not a Cristian or really any form of organized religion—I found them too restrictive not unlike Baruch Spinoza views—-perhaps that was a factor among others that funneled into my choosing of Psychiatry —any affliction—that causes human suffering among them homelessness —has my deep abiding sorrow and sympathy. have a fine morning!! Jerry
Thanks, I can only hope. Many times have I published, in God’s eyes, we are all homeless, and before God, we’re all naked. I wonder how that notion would go down in Key West’s various one human family tribes?
Amiga Virginia of Jupiter Beach, Florida wrote:
Sloan, quick question. What percentage of the homeless people are working or have jobs in downtown Key West? What is the reason they have to be near the downtown tourist area If they don’t have jobs? Are any of them on social security or they aren’t because they aren’t over 62 or they don’t have a work history. I discovered recently that even people without a work history are able to collect unemployment at $580 to $700 a month. Virginia
I don’t know how many have jobs. They don’t need a reason to be on Duval Street, nor do I, and I don’t have a paying job, either. I imagine all of them entitled to soc. sec. are receiving it, and some are on disability receiving those benefits, and some are receiving vet benefits, and none of that is relevant. I get soc. sec. benefits. So what? They are American citizens, as far as I know. Until USA becomes Nazi America, Inc, homeless people can be in public places.
Virginia also wrote (she has been to Key West several times on cruise ships):
Dear Sloan, the real problem in Key West is too little land and too much money chasing too little land (developers). There is no more room or land for development. Everyone who made money in real estate, be happy! And relax and stop pushing.
The Homeless? There should be some nice camping grounds set up further north as it’s not practical for them to remain in the tiny area called Key West. Why not look around and set up some public camp grounds for the homeless. There is little chance of their getting jobs in the tiny town of Key West. The Homeless are in Key West because of the warm weather and they can live on the beach but they can live on the beach up to the Miami area as it stays warm year round.
In ancient societies , the Homeless couldn’t survive. They would have had to have jobs in the field, doing doing something productive in the city or countryside.
Hi, Ginger –
Reading the Gospels, there were beggars in Jesus’ time; he was one of them, actually.
I doubt Key West’s homeless would use a campground a few miles up US 1 from Key West. No grocery stores, liquor and cigarette outlets, nothing to do; homeless who are working in Key West would not be able to get to work and would lose their jobs.
During closing citizen comments at tonight’s city commission meeting, I brought up real affordable rental housing, rent a waitress can afford on what she makes. I said there are people staying at KOTS (the city’s overnight homeless shelter), who are working but cannot afford Key West market rate rents. There are people almost homeless, because they cannot afford market rate rent where they are living.
I referred back to what Commission Tony Yaniz had said earlier in the meeting, about it being possible to put 100 or perhaps more affordable rental units on the Easter Seals property on Stock Island, where at one time Mayor Cates wanted to put a 24-hour homeless rehabilitation shelter.
Tony also said he has found perhaps 2-3 acres of abandoned Navy land a few miles up US 1, where he wants to look at getting from the Navy for a new city homeless shelter. I left that alone during my citizen comments, because a new shelter is way down the road, I don’t think many homeless people will use a shelter that far from Key West, and a new shelter is a small issue compared to the acute shortage of affordable rental housing.
I said I was glad to hear the Easter Seals property, which the city owns, is being considered for affordable rental units, perhaps built and managed by the Housing Authority.
And about a week ago,I was in Faustos (grocery and deli), and spoke with City Commissioner Jimmy Weekly (his family owns Faustos, he runs it) about real affordable rental housing. He said the 6.6 acres of land originally set aside for Bahama Village can could be used for affordable rental housing; perhaps 200 hundred units. He told me of study done years back, which indicated Key West was short, what?, 1,100 affordable rental units, and since then that number probably has grown.
I said real affordable rental housing is a very big issue in Key West, it’s a crises, and it needs to be dealt with. People need places to live, which they can afford on what they have.
During closing commissioner/mayor comments, Jimmy Weekley went straight back to his and my conversation at Faustos, saying the study was in 1990 and showed 1,300 affordable rental units shortage in Key West, but efforts have been made and that number perhaps decreased somewhat, but still a lot of work lies ahead, and he is glad city staff are looking at it. He said we need a new definition of affordable housing, which allows people to pay 25 percent of what they make to qualify for it.
I wondered how Mayor Cates was taking that, given I’m one of his opponents in the mayor’s race and the primary is next Tuesday, and given he simply will not accept criticism, or what he perceives to be criticism, of Key West. That meeting was televised on the city’s TV channel. Who knows how many people were watching on? But mine and Jimmy’s didn’t get reported in the Citizen.
A woman perhaps close to my age, who speaks frequently during citizen comments, handed me a wad of bills, said, “That’s for your campaign.” Less than $10. But it had a real effect on me, like, – wow!
I received an email today from a Key West woman, whom I have not seen in ages, saying she misses seeing me around and is early voting still going on, and if so, where can she do it? I wrote back to go to the Supervisor of Elections office on Whitehead Street, caddycorner across form the Green Parrot. Early voting ends this week.
When I went there to vote this afternoon, a lawyer I know pretty well, who is Chairman of the Board of Florida Outreach Coalition, which gives homeless and other down and out people, who are sober, a second chance, said he had just voted for me. I said, ha!, he voted for me because he is my lawyer, he was bound by the lawyer-client relationship :-). He said he always has voted for me, except when he lived for a few years a little ways out of Key West and could not vote in city elections.
Well, I digress. It’s easy to think up solutions to the homeless problem, but nowhere in America, of which I am aware, are any solutions thought up working well. The most expensive solution is building new housing for homeless people and letting them live in it for free just to get them off of the sidewalks, out of the parks and shopping centers, etc.
I keep telling people Key West and America have not become Auschwitz yet regarding homeless people, but it may go there eventually. I’m hoping the homeless forum August 28 will be different from all past homeless forums down here. I’m hoping the panelists, who have real credentials, for a change, will wake up enough people in Key West and the Keys to make a difference. I will attend that forum, listen, perhaps speak, if that is allowed.
A lot of people here gripe and worse about homeless people. I wish they would gripe and worse about the acute shortage of affordable rental housing, which a waitress can afford on what she makes.
Dear Sloan, I was shocked at the cost of rentals and homes for sale in Kew West. Key west real estate was more expensive than Palm Beach and Jupiter for comparable properties. I couldn’t afford to stay in Key West for a night as that would cost more than my entire cruise when I get the Carnival 4 day cruises for $250 or $300 total…and they usually stop at Key West from 8 am to 3 pm and departing at 4 pm for Cozumel, Mexico. I don’t see how Key West is affordable at all for a working class person or people making $30,000 or $40,000 a year unless someone has family who has owned their home since the 1960’s or before. My mother and sister flew down to key West in 1976 and complained how expensive it was then. Most sales/waitress jobs here pay $20,000 a year, $10.00 an hour). Many young people live with their parents, go to college and/or work while finishing college or saving to get their own apt. However, costs an average of $1000 to $1500 to rent a one or two bedroom and you have to pay 2-3 months up front (one month in advance, one month security and one month current rent). So smarter to live at home, buy a car and finish college or 2 years of college at least. There are few jobs which don’t require a high school degree as they are held by the immigrants, so college kids have trouble finding jobs to work their way through college.
Jesus wasn’t a beggar but he was following the Yoga principal of giving away all one’s possessions and putting one’s trust in people to provide for him. Many of the beggars in 30 AD were lepers, (or skin diseases like scabies or ill from TB, measles, typhoid, recovered from smallpox.and badly scarred and so shunned by the public. Rome had brought back so many slaves from conquering countries, that there were few, if any, jobs. No labor shortage. Best deal was to be a priest of any religion and live and work in the temples or to be in the Roman Army (which could be a tough or easy job depending on where you were deployed or who your father was (much like today). Only other jobs were on trade ships as crew ( or slave rowers) or merchants, traders, etc. The United States is no longer an agricultural economy but a technological economy and no longer has jobs for the uneducated immigrant. We exported most of our assembly line factory jobs to Asia.
What is the cost of the average apt rental in the Key West area? Are there any cheap rentals? What about the other islands in the Keys, like Big Pine Key or Little Pine Key? I would assume its cheaper to live there and there might be some jobs. The problem is the whole area, the whole island chain if the Keys, is a tourist industry so the people who work in the tourist industry, hotels, motels, bars, etc have to be personable and nicely dressed.
Shhhh, you could get yourself burned at the stake for saying Jesus was doing yoga practices.
Rentals in Key West terribly high, only Housing Authority rental housing is affordable to poor working stiffs. Up the Keys housing is some cheaper, but still high. Relatively little work up there, most people who live up there and work day or night jobs commute to work in Key West. Some go up to Marathon.
Most days, I wear shorts, t-shirt and sandals with no socks. When it’s cooler I wear blue jeans, t-shirt, a sweat shirt and maybe a windbreaker, and sandals. And socks, if it’s cold. I don’t work in the tourist industry, although I imagine if I were mayor, I might attract tourists the likes of which Key West has not yet considered even exist, some not even from this planet
Your favorite Martian
former Naval Air Station Key West civilian contract employee Nick Anderson of Big Coppit Key bored in on me a few days ago:
I like the Idea of a Homeless camp on Boca Chica Road at a old Navy Transmitter Site, as 1) is’t out of the way from Key West City residents, (waterfront also) has water and electricity, Bus Service, no annoying neighbors, and a Circle K for beer and lotto tickets,
On a more pressing note, It would get the Navy off the hook for hazerdous cleanup.
Closer to home, The U.S. Government now has on Sigsbee , about 150 unused and empty homes all in one section together (2,3,&4 bedroom) townhouse style which by law and common sense, be used as low income housing (HUD) or for Veteran Assistance. Voila Perry Court North.
Seems like a winner, Mr Mayor of Key West,
Also the is some 50 acres out on Boca Chica Road and a whole lot more on Sugarloaf Key for Senior Citizen Housing (Maybe up to 5000 units)
Sounds like a plan….
Rural Key West
Hi, Nick –
Who cleans up the hazardous materials, if the Navy gets out of it? It ain’t legal to put a homeless shelter, or residences, on top of toxic wastes.
That aside, City Commissioner Tony Yaniz likes a homeless camp in that area, too, but I don’t see homeless people flocking to it. KW Police Chief Donie Lee said at the “homeless summit” several months ago that Yaniz’s location preference will not work because homeless people won’t travel that far to a shelter. They can’t be made to travel that far, not legally anyway.
Yaniz seems not to have ears, or he hears but does not believe what he hears.
Maybe you should leave the Yaniz and Romero camp, who are of the view that homeless people can be ordered where to be – reminds me of Auschwitz.
Unused Navy housing at Sigsbee would be welcome affordable rental housing, if the Navy would deed it to the city/housing authority; but aren’t other apartment buildings there occupied by military personnel? And isn’t that inside the Navy base? Can civilians live inside a Navy base; or live inside of this Navy base?
The Boca Chica Homeless site get better looking every day, Away from the good citizens of Key West, and their not so friendly Police, with water, Electricity, at the old Navy Transmitter Site, Bus Service, and near the Circle K. Water Front too !!.
What”s not to like??
The “Move the Key West library ” to old Harris School also looks good, with lots of Parking, !!!
for the 85% of County residents who are mobility impaired and need assistance with Parking to utilize the services.
Also the 150 empty Townhomes on Sigsbee, For (2,3 &4 bedroom) for low income subsidized homes, under HUD and VA homeless services.
Yours for a better Key West Quality of Life,
Rural Key West,
Committee to move the Key West Library to Old Harris School
For someone who moved from Key West up to Big Coppitt, after giving your Truman Annex home back to a bank, you sure do have a lot of ideas about the city in which you don’t live should operate.
Given all the money you told me you have, and given you have nobody you want to get any of it when you are alive or when you pass over, you seem to be a perfect candidate for funding your own bright ideas to help the city in which you no longer live, and the people who live here.
However, you will not persuade many homeless people to live at your Big Coppit homeless shelter, unless you offer them amenities Key West is not providing them. I’m not aware of amenities on Big Coppit, which would interest any homeless people I know, or ever knew.
I still belive that a homeless camp in Boca Chica Road would solve many of the current objections of the City of Key West and Stock Island. Hey, if it has the possibility of improving the quality of life of even a small number of Monroe County residents then progress has been made.
aLL ONE CAN DO IS PRESENT OPTIONS TO THOSE WHO WILL BENIFIT.
NOT THOSE WHO DEMAND SERVICES.
THE USA HAS MANY AREAS WHICH TO LIVE, CHOOSE ANY NUMBER OF PLACES TO LIVE.
GET OUT THE VOTE,
RURAL KEY WEST
Nick, Tony Yaniz is pushing for a homeless shelter on Boca Chica Road. If he gets his way, if the city spends the money and builds it, then the city will learn if its homeless people in Key West are using it.
Meanwhile, when KOTS first opened, the city provided homeless with free rides on city buses, to get to KOTS. Then, the city stopped doing that. The city has a bus running every hour and a half, if it’s on schedule, to Marathon and back to Key West. Homeless people could ride that bus to Big Coppit from Key West and Stock Island. But KOTS sleeps 140 when it’s full capacity, far more than can get on one of those city buses. So the city runs a special bus, or two, to Big Coppit, each evening? Doesn’t seem cost-efficient to me.
You seem convinced homeless people want to live in a homeless camp on Big Coppit. Have you done market research on that? By asking a broad sampling of homeless people if they will use a homeless camp on Big Coppit? They cannot be forced to live there. Not legally anyway.
The homeless forum starts this Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Harvey Government Center in Key West. Runs to 1 p.m. People who actually know what they are talking about, based on their resumes, will be on the panel. I’m hoping they will leave Key West with a better understanding of homeless issues than various “homeless summits” have done, where the panelists were, or were chosen by, local politicians.
In New York City and elsewhere, the homeless are put up at hotels, of up to $3500 per month. What some homeless want is to stay at the Casa Marina on the good citizens tab. A Hand up, not a hand out.
Vote early, Vote often.
Rural Key West
What every homeless person I know and have known wanted was to be left alone by KW police. Individually, they had different other items on their wish lists, but I never heard one of them say they wanted Key West to provide them with housing. It was NY City’s idea to provide housing for its homeless people, to get them off the streets. Miami did the same, until it ran out of money for that program, and still it is howling about it’s homeless people. You don’t know the subject, nor the subjects.
Can I sign you up for lunch at the senior center lunch on this Date?
$2.00 I’ll pay. Same Building.
Yours in Key West Future,
Rural Key West
Lunch is fine, but not there, I ain’t sure their food is fit for human consumption. And not that day. That’s the homeless forum in Harvey Government Center. How about VFW?
If the food is unfit at the senior center, that’s where I’ll be. Palm Beach City has no homeless problem, and the P.D. uniform is a blue blazer. That is there are no homeless within the City limits at any time. At ANY Time. somehow the homeless stay in West Palm Beach. who would have known.
I like the Big Coppett Homeless Camp more all the Time.
Then Key West can be the Palm Beach of the Florida Keys….
Rural Key West.
Do they fly this flag over super rich Palm Beach City’s city hall? Sounds like they might, from what you describe. You and City Commissioner Tony Yaniz wanting to herd homeless people into a “shelter” on Geiger Key Road sounds sort concentration campish. With all that money you never knew even existed before you ended up with it, why don’t you build it and see if homeless people will come? If they do come, then you will be many Nazi’s in Key West’s savior. If they don’t come, then you are the rest of the people in Key West’s savior, because you saved their city from building a homeless white elephant out in the sticks. Perhaps, in that case, you will be able to double your money, or triple it, by selling it to the county government for a county-run trailer park workforce housing, with the county providing the trailers.
Meanwhile, when you are in the Senior Center eating food I have not yet allowed myself to eat, because I’m not even convinced pigs could survive on it, I’ll be next door and upstairs in the county commission meeting chamber hoping I’m going to hear the local Nazis getting what’s coming to them; I’m slap dab wore out doing that all by my lonesome down here where there are so many boys from Brazil, and girls too, I suppose.
Thank you for the art work
You should propose the City adopt the same.
I don’t know if herd would be a correct analogy. Just recommend that more services are avlalable in Miami and Broward Countys.
With a Population of over 5 million, and only 350 homeless, seems like a better shot, Midnight Cowboy. ( You can play Rizzo in the Remake)
Well the Palm Beach City citizens seem happy, Drop a note to Donnie Lee.
Happy out here in the Country,
Rural Key West
chair, Move the Key West Library to Old Harris School Committee
I think maybe there are a few more homeless people up there than that, but Key West homeless people mostly like being down here instead; they feel they were invited after seeing all that advertising about come own down to paradise as you are. Maybe they didn’t read the fine print?
How are you coming on negotiating the purchase of Harris School, and what is the contractor telling you it will cost to fix it up for a new library? Great location, lots of parking. You, of course, have gotten this approved by the County Commission, yes? No sweat there, yes? You paying for it all, and then they get to sell the present library for big bucks and buy another trinket with the proceeds, instead of sewering Cudjoe Regional Sewer System with the best technology possible.
When pigs fly, but then, maybe a state court judge has some winged connections not yet disclosed.
Big Coppet was sewaged in 1970, mostly paid for by the property owners and US Government.
Does the Miami advertising say free stay?? I never noticed. I came here on a job with per diem and moving expenses 10 years ago. (April 2004) Been working steady since I was 16, if you include the BP tanker job and forklift warehouse work in France. (1966-67) Seems like yesterday.
Palm Beach City, Fl. 100% homeless free… how do they do it? Sent Donny Lee , City &County Mayor and Commissioners on a Fact Finding Tour. Make KeyWest the Palm Beach of the Keys….
What and Idea…..also with a improved Library with Parking for all County Residencs.
and of course I’ll be here on Big Coppett.
Funding: Just broke the Eva Stotesbury Trust, (died in 1946) Was suppose to go another 18 years.
Well, Nazi Germany pretty much became Jew free, except for the Jews who had skills the Nazis could use in the war effort, as depicted in the movie “Schindler’s List”. There are those who would love to make Key West into Palm Beach South, I am not one of them. I would like to see Key West lose some of it’s recently acquired glitter (development) and be more funky (rustic). I remember Key West before it sold out to development, $$$. I remember the Keys before they sold out to development. The new and bigger waterline allowed the development to happen, before the new waterline nobody could build and tie into the old waterline. Now we have a city with rents through the roof, many of them to transients, and a city with workers serving the rich, who can’t pay their rent with one job, nor with two jobs. During your long distance investigation, did you learn where the rich folks’ servants live in Palm Beach? How much rent they pay? With all the money you have, why don’t you move there; then you won’t be bothered by homeless people. And I bet they have a great library, too, since no homeless people use it.
Dig this affordable housing article in today’s Citizen - www.keysnews.com – my happy thoughts in italics:
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Raschein leads affordable housing talk
Officials call lack of workforce housing a crisis with no easy solutions
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
City Planner Don Craig on Monday couldn’t come up with a single thing that is working well when it comes to providing workforce housing in the Florida Keys.
“I wrote, ‘Nothing,'” Craig said, referring to the first question on the comment form handed out at Monday’s roundtable discussion about affordable housing.
To the question of what is not working well, Craig wrote, “Everything.”
Craig was among some 50 people who turned out for the public meeting held at the Marathon Government Center, attended by Keyswide elected officials and hosted by State Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, who said the terms “affordable housing” and “workforce housing” are interchangeable as far as she is concerned.
Aw shucks, Holly. Affordable workforce housing is what a waitress can afford on what she makes. And forget what a waitress can buy, what can she afford in rent is the criteria.
Monday’s meeting was a first step in the county’s effort to formally assess affordable housing Keyswide, directing a Florida State University team to interview locals most affected by the drought of workforce housing and return with an updated report.
The first step? This same conversation was going on when I ran against County Commissioner George Neugent in 2006. The county had an affordable workforce housing committee back then. The emphasis was about getting the hurricane evacuation schedule shortened, so more development could occur in the Keys, so more unafordable affordable workforce housing could be built. Key Westt defeloper Ed Swift was on that committee. Realtors and developers were on that committee. They did not let citizens comment on items they were considering, until after they voted on those items. Alyson Matley, the Keynoter’s Key West Bureau Chief, interviewed me about that committee right after I attended one of its meetings in the Key Colony Beach City Hall, I explained what the committee was really up to. Alyson sounded aghast. She said her article would appear in the next Keynoter issue. The article appeared. What I told Alyson was changed. The scam was not reported. I called her and asked what had happened? She said it was out of her hands, her bosses wrote over her. Alyson later married, became Alyson Crean. Now she is the public spokesperson for the City of Key West, and for the KWPD.
Robert Jones, director of the FCRC Consensus Center at FSU, who attended Monday’s meeting, said he is open to hearing from all residents on the issue.
Jones’ email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will email Jones a copy of this article with my sentiments interjected.
Monroe County has a declining population, counted in 2010 at 73,090 and projected to drop to 66,700 by 2040, according to Jones.
No small wonder given how expensive housing is in the Keys.
At the same time, the county’s tourist economy is growing.
Workforce housing is defined by Jones as households led by service industry workers, teachers, law enforcement and other professional jobs. They shouldn’t have to pay more than 30 percent of their total income on housing, including utilities, by his definition.
How about yard workers, Jones? How about deck hands? How about Key West City employees making $10-11 an hour? How about an efficiency apartment in Key West renting for $1,200 a month and being classified as affordable by the Key West Housing Authority. You need to come down here, Jones, try to rent an affordable apartment or house in Key West. See how that goes. Then, try to rent an affordable apartment or house on each island between Key West and the causeway to the mainland. LOL
Households that spent more than 30 percent of their housing have a “cost burden,” Jones’ Powerpoint presentation said, and do not have affordable housing.
In Monroe, about 8,000 home-owning families are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their take-home pay on housing. Of that number, half pay more than 50 percent of their income on housing.
The gathering, which included County Commissioners Heather Carruthers, Sylvia Murphy, George Neugent and David Rice; Key West City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, Marathon Mayor Dick Ramsay; Housing Authority director Manuel Castillo; Mark Moss of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, along with developers, real estate brokers and concerned citizens, was to revisit a familiar Keyswide woe.
“We are short 6,800 units of workforce housing,” said Carruthers. “This is a crisis of extreme proportions. Housing is the most expensive item on our list. Affordability in the Keys also relates to insurance, the cost of food and the cost of daycare.”
Everyone agreed on one thing: The Keys hasn’t made a dent in solving the affordable housing.
“We’ve been talking about affordable/workforce housing since 1940,” said Yaniz. “We need to stop talking and we need to start walking because it’s as big an issue as a hurricane hitting us tomorrow.”
Mayor Craig Cates, who is running for a fourth term in today’s primary, didn’t attend. He said city staff and officials were there and that he is well-versed in the topic.
“We had some people there,” Cates said. “Tim Root was there from Key West. I spoke with him. Key West was represented. This is the first step to get this started. I’ll get really involved in it after the election.”
You wait until you you are seeking your 4th consecutive term, to say you will get really involved with the biggest issue facing Key West for decades before you were elected in 2009? If you don’t get elected, you still will get involved?
Cates said he talked to Carruthers ahead of Monday’s meeting to tell her he couldn’t make it on account of previous commitments and the election.
“We’ve made a lot of strides in affordable housing but it’s not enough,” said Cates, referring to the new apartment complex that went up last year on MacDonald Avenue in Stock Island that were instantly filled. “It’s an issue that continues to grow and grow.”
You voted to put an expensive public park on Truman Waterfront, which the city does not need, which the taxpayers will fund, when you could have put heaps of affordable rental housing out there instead. That was the only place in Key West where a lot of affordable rental housing could be put, on free land, since the city owns the land. Instead of getting on top of that, you tried to get the city to build a 24-hour full-service homeless rehabilitation shelter, which was doomed to fail for a variety of reasons, the most glaring of which was the rehabilitated homeless people would not be able to afford a place to rent in Key West.
Root, who runs a construction company and is a Utility Board member, sat in the audience, which included Mayoral candidate Margaret Romero, and Jeff Sharp, a resident of the Seahorse Trailer Park on Big Pine Key, which he fears is on its way out of business in light of a developer’s recent purchase.
Root’s company does work for developers? He has built actually affordable rental housing in the Keys? For decades, trailer parks and Housing Authority rental units have been the affordable housing down here. For years, trailer parks have been disappearing under developers’ bulldozers, with local governments’ approval. I can’t wait to hear how Root is going to fix this.
Several officials recalled how in 2007 the county released a report on affordable housing, written by Lisa Tennyson, now the county’s director of legislative affairs and grants acquisition.
Every concern in that report remains unsolved today, they said, after much discussion at that time but no true action.
“Then it just fell off the face of the Earth,” said Roman Gastesi, the county administrator. “We didn’t solve it then, let’s solve it now. Frankly, I don’t know if there are any solutions. We have to at least understand the problems.”
What’s to understand,? Rents are sky-high in the Keys. More sky-high in Key West, but that’s not the county’s problem.
Raschein assured the crowd there were solutions and told Gastesi, “Be positive, Roman.”
Roman is one of the most positive people I ever met. If he ain’t sure there are any solutions, then maybe their up that famous creek without a paddle.
Craig said revenue producers such as a tax on every alcoholic beverage sold or a 1 percent real estate transfer tax could generate enough money to build housing. Simply relying upon Land Authority funds won’t work, he said.
A 1 percent sales tax on booze would raise a heap of money, given how much booze is sold and drunk in the Keys. Key West is said to have more bars, per capita, than any other city on this planet. But where are you gonna build all of that affordable rental housing in Key West, Don? The city’s built-out. Truman Waterfront is going to be a public park, right next door to a state park. I hear the Navy has land up on Big Coppit Key. I hear the Navy has some housing in Key West it’s no longer using. The city owns a little land in the city, and up US 1. I figure the city alone needs around 1,200 affordable rental units.
“There is land owned by governmental agencies that can be repurposed to affordable housing,” Craig said. “You also have to consider what we have control over in terms of our zoning and comprehensive plans.”
What land? How many acres? How many rental units could be built on it?
Commissioner Carruthers said the Key West building height referendum is an example of what government has to grapple with once the pro-affordable housing rhetoric fades.
Yikes, Heather! The pro-affordable housing rhetoric ain’t ever gonna fade! What asteroid you been hanging out on, girl?
In Key West, many homeowners cannot raise their homes above base elevation flood due to the city’s height restrictions, which are in the city charter.
Voters on Nov. 4 will decide whether to allow an exception to the restrictions, limiting building height to 40 feet.
This has to do with creating more affordable rental housing? Or with more developers’ market rate housing, disguised as allowing relatively few Key West property owners who can afford it, to raise their home, if their home can be raised, or tear down their home which cannot be raised, and replace it with a new home on stilts.
While the city commission unanimously decided to let voters decide, there were some dissenters who questioned the motivation behind the height referendum, including Romero, who called the planning department’s education campaign a “sales job.”
“Some say it’s a conspiracy by developers,” Carruthers said of the height referendum. “As a friend of mine said, Conspiracy theories are the last refuge of those who don’t understand the issues.”
I imagine developers are having wet dreams hoping the new building height limits referendum passing. The intent of the new ordinance is fine, but the wording of it should clearly have limited it to the intent, and specifically excluded it from developers. But the ordinance wasn’t drafted in that way, and was put out to referendum after I asked to mayor and city commissioners during citizen comments to put wording into the ordinance, which would keep developers from using it.
On campaign advertising, email the other day from Jack Smith, Pirate Radio Key West:
Subject: political ad rates
Sloan to stay within FCC guidelines I want to be sure that you have our political rates in case you want to advertising on WKYZ. They are attached and our the lowest rates on the station.
Thanks, Jack, but I don’t advertise in that way. Do FCC guidelines require you to have me on your radio station as many times as Margaret and/or Craig were on your station?
Jack replied yesterday:
Sloan to answer your question, only within a certain window of the election day – and we fullfilled that by your visit to my morning show and the debate.
Lame, Jack, and you know it. I declared quite a while before Margaret, and by the time you had me on Pirate Radio, according to Ryno, you’d had Craig and Margaret on several times.
Having me on the debate didn’t balance any scales, with them at the debate, too. I wanted them at the debate, thought the debate was a wonderful idea, hope you do it every time there’s a mayor’s race in Key West.
But you darn well know you are supposed to give competing candidates equal time on your show, regardless of what federal law is, because that’s the right thing to do, even if you really ain’t a real pirate.
Bill Becker finally interviewed me on US 1 Radio, it got a bit tense, then that Morning Magazine replay was not available, Bob Kelley told me after he tried to listen to it.
Honor among thieves has lost its glow.
The one time Jack had me on his morning radio show, he asked me a homeless question, or rather, he went on a rant that left me wondering if I was going to get to say anything about the topic, even as I realized I was listening to a Neo-Nazi when it came to Key West’s street people, Jerry Weinstock might have a psychiatric label for it. Otherwise, it was a terrific interview. Jack said he was going to have me back on to catch me up with Craig Cates and Margaret Romero. Jask asked what I thought about a mayor candidates debate, and I said it was a great idea, there’d never been one. He said his station has as many listeners as US 1 Radio. I said all the better for the debate. He asked me who I thought would be a good moderator? I said Todd German, who ended up being the moderator. Jack asked how I thought the debate should be structured? I told him. It was a great event. Maybe too great, since I didn’t get invited back to catch up with Margaret and Craig.
During the debate, Mark Ryno, another Pirate Radio show host, started a Facebook analysis in which he said Craig was positive, Margaret was angry, and Sloan was unbalanced. Craig was positively in denial about problems in Key West. Margaret acquitted herself well. I took no prisoners.Radio stations, which host candidate debates, are supposed to keep their views of the candidates out of it. But then, it’s fake pirates running a fake pirate radio station. Real pirates would have me on every week, for an hour, taking no prisoners, and they would be loving every minute of it.
I know that for a fact, because I’ve done maybe 300 radio interviews in America, and some of the hosts were real pirates, at heart. I’ve done maybe 20 TV interviews in America, outside of Key West. A few on national television. I rather imagine the national news media would have a field day interviewing me, if I became Key West’s mayor. Would be heaps more interesting and entertaining than watching US news reports of USA, Inc. at war, racial violence in Ferguson, Missiouri and US journalist beheadings in Islamic countries.
What do I know? Maybe in 2016, the angels will tell me to run for president. Now that’s one elected office I’d actually like to try on, to see if I could fuck things up worse than prior presidents managed to do. Actually, I would be disappointed if I was not assassinated before I even got sworn it, since I had already announced during my campaign that, if elected, my first official act would be to order the withdrawal of all US military personnel and equipment and US civilian employees and contractors from the Middle East, and the cessation of all US aid, domestic and military, to Israel and Islamic countries.
Robin Williams, R.I.P, in “Good Morning Vietnam”, to which I owe the names of my good morning websites, but I owe this fella plenty of credit, too, for what follows.
In the American foreign policy theater, interesting conflagrations spun off yesterday from reader comments under the Could Key West Reach the Ferguson Flashpoint? article in the current Key West the Newspaper – www.goodmorningkeywest.com. This discussion between John Donnelly, of Key Largo, and “Keysbum” has been going in comments under a number of blue paper articles written by John. Given the now increased potential of America militarily seriously intervening in Syria, this discussion is timely and fated to piss people off.
political announcement, paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West