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In a nap yesterday, my dream maker said she didn’t like yesterday’s post at goodmorningfloridakeys.com:
READ ALL ABOUT IT!!! ACLU sues Key West, Florida Keys Sheriff and County Commission for conspiring to prevent homeless people from drinking in public in Key West, by putting them in jail at huge cost to county taxpayers, while Key West encourages everyone else to drink until they can’t stand up.
Some days, I wonder why I ever get out of bed in the morning?
Father Steve Braddock of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition replied to yesterday’s post:
The gentleman whose photo leads your post today “Duval Street repeat offender”
exited the FKOC program clean and sober in October 2011 after 20+ years on the street. He is doing very well and in stable veteran’s housing on the mainland. He is a very kind and gentle man who I feel blessed to have crossed paths with.
Hi, Steve – Am glad to hear this, as might be others.
I remember him, and other men, and a woman, from Duval Street and nearby, and a few on Mallory Pier. They were gentle, but it seemed their life mission was to drink. Who knows what awful thing inside drove them?
I recall one of them, I used to know his name, was laid out on the sidewalk on the north side of Duval between Eaton and Caroline. It was just after the 2003 mayoral. 2 KWPD officers were trying to get him to wake up and stand up, and he was not responding. One of the officers grabbed his arm and was pulling on it and talking rough and giving orders to get up and move along. Then, the officer saw me watching from maybe 10 feet away. He asked what was my interest? I said, I was interested in homeless people. I said, the man was too drunk to respond to the orders, he could not do what they were asking him to do. Did I have any suggestions? I said, well, you could take him to the jail on stock island, he will dry out there, perhaps he will stop drinking, perhaps not, but it will be a chance. The officer looked relieved to hear that, he loosened up. The two officers then mostly picked up the man and assisted them to a patrol car and I suppose they took him to the jail. I saw him again not long afterward, in about the same shape. I wasn’t surprised, but it was sad. I think I recall hearing he died not all that long after that. I wish I could recall his name. He was known on that part of Duval Street. Seemed to be liked, but he was very hurt inside to be drinking that much.
I can understand and don’t blame KW for not wanting that on city sidewalks. Jail is not a solution, though. Other than something unusual happening, perhaps in the Act of God category, I don’t have a solution.
Are you free to share more about how the fellow in the photo today came around?
All I can share is that he simply had an awakening and realized he would die if he kept doing what he was doing. He walked into the Neece Center and reclaimed his value as a human being. He was a model client. He served his country in uniform and was entitled to healthcare and other benefits which we were able to help him secure. His physical and mental health issues have been addressed and he seems very happy. The last time we spoke he was explaining to me about the healing properties of green tea!
Thanks, awakening sounds to me like Act of God.
Fortunately, the fellow had VA benefits and is entitled to VA housing. If I ever run out of money again, I will not be so fortunate on just Social Security retirement benefits. Absent an Act of God, no way I can live independently, pay market rate rent, buy groceries, have a vehicle, pay for gas, maintenance, liability insurance, in the Keys, or on the mainland. I am totally subsidized, and I imagine I am hardly alone in the ranks of the formerly homeless. Perhaps the reasons for my dependent state differ from the reasons of other recovering homeless people, angels disabled me, but the effect on this world is the same.
The colorful Saddaroba Rodd of Key West replied to yesterday’s post:
- kwhatman Says:
August 21st, 2013 at 10:21 am editif the sheriff won’t sue the city over this issue, then some county taxpayer/any county taxpayer should step up and do it. I myself have a full plate as I’m going on trial in mid Sept for “lodging” in my vehicle. Everyone is welcome to attend and the seats are free. The lodging ordinance is just another attempt by KW to maintain what they think KW should be like. I’m the 1st and ONLY person so charged with this law violation even though the KWPD and the commission all know of many others who, either by simple economics or choice, live in a vehicle. if you live on the ground, the city provides a home(KOTS) with a/c and hot water and other perks, but if you are living in a vehicle that you paid for, and are paying for your driver’s license, and insurance, and repairs, and gas, well then you can’t legally be anywhere in the city limits of Key West EVER. why? read the city ordinance 70-130 and you’ll see it is illegal to be in Key West. Day or night, you are illegal. One Human Family? a motto fully endorsed by the city of KW? yeah right! Kwhatman
- Sloan Says:
August 21st, 2013 at 5:48 pm I did not mean to encourage the Sheriff to sue Key West. Rather, I hoped to encourage the Sheriff to simply tell Key West he is not going to receive into his jail homeless people arrested by Key West police for open container, sleeping outside at night, and, yes, sleeping in their vehicle, which also happens to be their home. I know from our many interactions at your van, and elsewhere, over the years, that your van is your home. As we discussed the other day, you can raise the constitutionality of the city ordinance in the case the city brought against you.
- Sloan Says:
Peggy Butler, retired registered nurse, formerly of Key West, who wrote for “Celebrate”, once published by the gay-lesbian community, replied to yesterday’s post:
The lawsuit by ACLU – is that really happening? If so, it’s the best news that’s come out of Key West for a long time! I hope it isn’t just wishful thinking and that they actually did file suit!
Keep on them!
I wrote back:
No, it was a sardonic joke, which I hoped the end of the post made clear. I don’t think that’s the way to deal with the open container problem, because the open container problem is caused by homeless who live to drink. I wrote to Steve Braddock about that earlier today, after he wrote that the man whose photo I’d used at the beginning of today’s post had ended up coming to FKOC and asking for help, which led to him making a major turn around, which his being a veteran and being entitled to those benefits allowed him to do financially. But he’s still living in subsidized housing, on the mainland. Certainly, he is far better off now.
His turn around, as Steve described it to me, and Steve agreed with my response, was triggered by an Act of God. Quite a few times I told the Key West City Commission that only God could change street people. The view of the soup kitchen in Key West, run under the auspices of Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, is, “It’s God’s job to change homeless people; it’s our job to feed them.” I imagine that creed probably came from Dorothy Sherman, who started that soup kitchen and it became her life calling. Not only did she and her husband George, both of whom I came to know and love, feed homeless people; they clothed them, gave them blankets, took them to doctors, often spending their own money to do it. After Dorothy passed over, she was eulogized Valentine’s Day 2005 at Mary Star of the Sea. Peter Batty did the homily. He said Dorothy had been a living saint, and he asked who would take her place? The nave was packed, people were standing in the aisles and in the back entrance. I bawled my heart and guts out, for a living saint indeed had passed from this world, and a dear friend, too.
Sorry – I really believed it was true.
It’s wonderful that the man in the photo has been able to turn his life around, Sloan. That happens for too little in this world of the homeless.
I’d never heard that story of Dorothy Sherman before, but it’s a beautiful one. She truly was a saint to do all that. Too few people in the world like her.
Have a blessed evening, Sloan.
Shame on me, I was too cute, thought it was really funny, when I named this morning’s post. In a nap later this morning, my dream maker expressed displeasure with me and that post. Not just the title, most of the post displeased her, but not your part of it.
Sorry you went through that. Although I won’t pretend to know what you go through, since I don’t have angel guides that make me aware of them. Hopefully, I have angel guides, but they’ve just never gotten in touch with me. Does that compute?
Have a decent night, Sloan!
What puzzles me, I received several pretty good replies, including yours, to today’s post, which might end up being a post tomorrow.
I think we all have angel guides; the ones assigned to me let me know in ways I cannot ignore that they are around, how they feel about what I do; they probably treat each person differently, although I have seen them work over a few people sort of like they worked me over. I no longer have contact with those people.
Vicki Weeks, formerly of Key West, who wrote for “Celebrate”, sent this in reply to yesterday’s post:
Thought you might appreciate the unfortunate, yet close, moral proximity of the town of “One Human Family” with the rightwing nuts of SC when it comes to the homeless.
South Carolina City Approves Plan To Exile Its Homeless
BY SCOTT KEYES ON AUGUST 20, 2013 AT 2:05 PM
Homeless people need not enter downtown Columbia, SC
Homeless people need not enter downtown Columbia, SC
Many homeless people in Columbia, South Carolina are facing an arduous choice: vacate downtown or be arrested.
That’s because last week, the Columbia City Council unanimously approved a new plan — the Emergency Homeless Response” — to remove homeless people from the downtown business district. Here’s how the initiative, which was spearheaded by Councilman Cameron Runyan, will work.
Police officers will now be assigned to patrol the city center and keep homeless people out. They will also be instructed to strictly enforce the city’s “quality of life” laws, including bans on loitering, public urination, and other violations. And just to ensure that no one slips through, the city will set up a hotline so local businesses and residents can report the presence of a homeless person to police.
In order to accommodate all the homeless people who will now be banned from downtown, the city will partner with a local charity to keep an emergency shelter on the outskirts of town open 24 hours a day. However, it’s unlikely the shelter, which can handle 240 guests, will be enough to handle the local homeless population, which numbers more than six times the available beds.
Homeless people can stay at the shelter, but they’re not permitted to walk off the premises. In fact, Columbia will even post a police officer on the road leading to the shelter to ensure that homeless people don’t walk towards downtown. If they want to leave, they need to set up an appointment and be shuttled by a van.
In other words, the 1,518 homeless people in the Columbia-area now have a choice: get arrested downtown or be confined to a far-away shelter that you can’t readily leave. Jail or pseudo-jail.
Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless, told ThinkProgress that this measure was the “most comprehensive anti-homeless measure that [he had] ever seen proposed in any city in the last 30 years.” He likened it to county poor farms that were prevalent throughout the Midwest many decades ago. “Using one massive shelter on the outskirts to house all a city’s homeless is something that has never worked anywhere in the country,” Stoops said.
Homeless advocates may soon file suit to overturn the plan, arguing that the plan violates homeless peoples’ rights to equal treatment under the law and freedom of assembly. The South Carolina ACLU is also exploring the matter. Susan Dunn, the group’s legal director, was highly critical. “The underlying design is that they want the homeless not to be visible in downtown Columbia,” Dunn said. “You can shuttle them somewhere or you can go to jail. That’s, in fact, an abuse of power.”
Columbia’s move mirrors an unfortunate trend sweeping cities across the country: criminalizing homelessness. Already this year, cities as disparate as Miami and Tampa to Palo Alto have passed various ordinances making it virtually illegal to be homeless inside city limits.
I wrote back:
Hi, Vicki -
Gulag? Concentration camp? I see no way forcing them to stay in the “stockade” simply because they are homeless is okay under US Constitution, nor probably under the South Carolina Constitution. I will very surprised if that situation does not end up in a United States District Court relatively soon.
The question remains: What does this foretell? Looks to me the homeless segment is going to grow. Looks to me mainstream can keep trying to herd them into enclaves, non-profits and volunteers and professionals can keep trying to find a cure, but I see no cure absent a massive Divine Intervention into the homeless ranks. A massive Divine Intervention of the feminine, for that is what is torn up inside of them, which led to where they ended up. Christians would say The Holy Spirit, instead of the feminine, not knowing in most cases that the Holy Spirit is the feminine side of the Christian Trinity.
I remain of the view that homeless people mirror back to mainstream its own shadow, and if that is true, there is no way mainstream can get rid of homelessness using the current methods. Imagine the introspection, the discomfort, mainstream, collectively and individually, will have to do to embrace its homeless shadow. I think that would require a Divine Intervention of the feminine into mainstream.
I was asked last Thanksgiving to pray for a Divine Intervention of the feminine into USA. I made the prayer. I’m still wondering if it was answered and in what way or ways? Maybe it takes something like Columbia, South Carolina and Key West not exactly One Human Family to spark a feminine infusion, or revolution, at the soul level, later to project into the human level. Maybe I have no clue what is going on.
In same general area of critical concern, Nashville J sent yesterday:
Thought this might be of interest to you and others since there are 1200 living in the Mangroves in KW – or so some say.
[There is a video tour of people in the woods, which you can watch if you click on the link.]
Browns Mills, New Jersey (MY9NJ) -
Meg follows up on a viewer tip about “the people of the woods”.
This is a community of people in Browns Mills, New Jersey where some have lived deep in the woods for as long as 20 years. Meg had to first gain the people’s trust before they would take her on a tour of their community among the trees.
She first heard about this group of people from volunteers at the Christian Caring Center which often helps with food and services for the homeless. One volunteer tells Meg that on average, the cost of a single homeless person to taxpayers is about $14,480 per year.
The people in this community don’t have many other options. Most of them are unemployed and Burlington County doesn’t offer homeless shelters to help get them out of the woods.
After talking to many of the residents of this community, Meg discovered that most of these people are just down on their luck. They can’t afford to pay rent or live on their own and many feel they are forced to be there.
Back in the studio the chasers discuss ways that the local towns and the state can help these people. The focus was on the need for job creation and shelters to help get these people back on their feet.
Some of the woods people might benefit from shelters, some of them might not. Some of them might go to shelters, some of them might not. Meg is new to this arena. I applaud her concern for people of the woods, but if she stays with them, she may find many unexpected, often disheartening bumps in the road she chose to travel, and a few bright moments, too.
It continues to look to me that there is developing a subsidized American homeless welfare state, and I wonder how long it will sustain in the face of the economic woes of USA? I don’t see that welfare state establishing much presence in Key West or the Florida Keys, due to the high market rate rents and limited subsidized housing which many working people, as well as disabled people, call home.
Steve Braddock’s former client moved to the mainland. It’s cheaper to live there, than in Key West and the Keys, but not cheap enough for me to get by on the mainland with just Social Security retirement benefits and basic Medicare. Although I dread the thought, I could stay nights and bathe at Key West’s KOTS shelter, and eat a big meal each day at Mary Star of the Sea’s soup kitchen. I imagine many homeless in Key West feel the same.
I imagine Key West will discover, if it opens its new homeless shelter on Robert Marbut’s model, that Key West homeless aren’t exactly like homeless on the mainland, and, like mi amiga Jeanie below,
and Hatman, and others not named here today, they don’t respond the same as homeless on the mainland. Key West is internationally known as a place to be different; that applies to its homeless people, too.