I just finished reading your article on key west homeless, it rang true too me because i am on my way to your little island as we speak. I have been travelling for 3 months on a scooter to get to key west, i have crossed many states and seen many things on my way to key west.
I am originally from portland maine, having lost my business in 2011 and losing my house i decided to take what i had left and leave maine and use my skills in the keys. I am a professional photographer that specializes in weddings and i also have a background of 12 years in the information technology field.
To tell you the truth crossing the USA with everything i own in a 21 pound backpack, a 14 pound bundle with my pack tent, sleeping bag, air matress, and beach towel, along with my scuba fins, snorkel, and mask has taught me that we can survive on very little and do not all need the million dollar house or 500k cars to be someone.
I take thingsl ike sunsets, babys crying and laughing, ocean breezes, and flowers to heart, those little things make so much of a difference.
I imagine when i get to key west ( i am currently in homestead outside the everglades) that i will be what you might call the “working homeless” i have skillsets that will help me get grounded in no time at all, i NEVER would panhandle, and i dont drink alchohol, my first order of business will be to find a “out of the way” place to stick a tent and start to focus on my goals.
At 33 years old im not a young man, but i chose key west for many reasons to start my life over, i only hope i am able to do so without facing the “wrath” of police officers, in my past life lol i had a good lawyer and i dont tolerate that sort of thing ever if i am not bothering anyone i should be left alone.
My goal is to just find a job, in the height of the tourist season and with the lack of “reliable” employees i hope it will not be too diffucult, someone once told me if you show up the first day your a new hire, the second day an employee, show up three days in a row on time and your considered a lifetime employee.
I do not plan on getting “keys disease” i have been there before and i know the island can do things to people, but i have a good head on my shoulders
I guess i just wanted to write to someone to talk about this, your article made me think you were the right choice.
I would love to hear back from you!
Hi, Jay. Thanks for writing. Intriguing, your journey to Key Weird. You will not be allowed to camp out in Key West. Perhaps you can find a home owner or a church or business who will allow you to pitch your tent on their property. There is KOTS (Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter) off College Road on the westerly/Key West city limits side of Stock Island next to the Sheriff HQ. Stock Island is the next island up from Key West. You can stay at KOTS for free, if you get there early enough to get a bed in one of the quonset huts, or a pad outside. KOTS takes up to 150 men nightly, no limit on number of stays. It also can accommodate 25 women, who have a separate quonset hut. It’s no frills, but you can get a shower and get under cover, if you get there early enough each afternoon. You cannot store your belongings there during the day and have to leave at 7:30 a.m. They do not require a urine test, and you can get in dead drunk, as long as you live by the rules. There is a night curfew, but this time of year KOTS usually fills up before the curfew. I have stayed there a few nights. There also is Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC), which provides residence shelters for men. Their entry shelter is on Patterson Avenue, about half a mile above the intersection of Palm Avenue and North Roosevelt Blvd. North Roosevelt is US 1, the main road into downtown Key West. If you can pass a urine test, you should be able to get into their program, which would get you inside and make it easier for you to find and keep a job. You would be assigned a bunk in one of the two dormitories, and you would be assigned light chores to help keep the place clean, including kitchen duty (cooking the evening meal and cleaning up). Chores are rotated. There is a night curfew, but you can get a late check-in waiver if you have a job that runs past the curfew. They administer random urine tests, and if you get caught with dirty urine, you are expelled immediately, regardless of time of night or weather. I was in the FKOC program for few months in 2003. I know the fellow who heads up FKOC, Father Steve Braddock, and their lawyer, Sam Kaufman, who is my lawyer. With a scooter to get around on, you should do okay with FKOC. They require a reasonable rent but give you time to get a job. I think they also require attendance of 12-Step meetings, even if you don’t partake. I attended lots of 12-Step meetings when I stayed at FKOC, even though I was not an addict. The people who work for FKOC mostly are FKOC graduates. Most FKOC clients are recovering addicts. Again, you will not be allowed to camp outside, and if you get caught, you could lose some of your gear. If you get jailed for camping out, you could lose all of your gear. The police are supposed to protect your gear while you are in jail, but I have heard stories … Expect to spend a month in the county jail, if you are arrested for camping out. I do not advise you to challenge the city around that, but if you do choose that route, Sam Kaufman might be interested in talking with you, based on his and my conversation recently. He has gone against the city before for homeless people. Sam’s office phone number is: (305) 292-3926. My home number is (305) 872-1705. You might prefer to light for a while up the Keys a ways from Key West. There is a place on Big Pine Key that takes in campers – men similarly situated to you. Longhair Ranch, it’s called. Owned by one man. Private property. Don’t think there is any fee. I have seen the place, met the owner. Nice layout, near the Winn-Dixie grocery store, drug stores, etc. Big Pine is the Key above me, about 30 miles above Mile Marker 0 in Key West. You might like to try starting your Keys adventure there. There is a city bus that runs every hour and a half between Key West and Marathon, I think it’s $3 one-way. It isn’t always on time, but it runs from around dawn until around midnight. Lots of people up the way use it to get to Key West or Marathon, and back. I don’t think you would want to spend a lot of time on your scooter on US 1, which you will get a sense of riding it down the Keys. Sloan
wow so much for “come as you are” in key west huh, the place maintains a super friendly attitude however thats just on the surface i noticed.
I am interested in the FKOC but heard there is like a 3 year waiting list, but i will definetely check that out as an option. they will arrest someone for camping in the mangroves? wow times have changed. Yeah im clean dont use drugs and NEVER drink, urine tests for me are a snap, i do take medications (prescriptions) but i imagine that is allowed.
As for big pine i have heard of the place, people i know have gotten to go there, and there are bits and pieces on the web, yet NO ONE will tell me where this place is.
FYI my scooter can do highway speeds, so im not real worried about driving it down US 1 at anytime, though the bus from big pine to the keys might be the ticket intitially
im undecided if i want to settle in big pine key largo or key west, though key west will have the most work for me i think ( i already have a tenative offer from a small firm there)
The shelter sounds ok but i really want to leave that for the truly homeless and down and out, ill check it out htough, im not entirely without money, im not sure if i mentioned that before, but the money from the sale of my house is dwindling and i couldnt just plunk down 3500 a month for the rent/deposit
DOnt worry i wont camp out, i wont challenge the cops either, i have heard stories about how people without “Real money” aren ot welcome in the keys, its sad really, i waso ne of those people once, but i never showed it, i was the first to give to the homeless and help out where needed.
Doing light chores would be no issue for me, im sure i would fit in, right now here in homestead im the overnight kitchen guy for the hostel as part of my stay, ive become quite good at it too!
I miss the photography though and will be trying to launch that posthaste
maybe ill give you a call sometime but for now i would love to hear more!
DOnt think i have some sort of snotty opinion of the place btw im fully aware its a tourist town, i dont hink finding work will be too challenging, im outgoing high energy and great to talk with
look forward to hearing from you
I can take you to Longhair Ranch, if you want to see it. It’s at the end of not very long public road off of Key Deer Blvd. First I’ve heard of a 3-year waiting list at FKOC. Or of much of a waiting list. If you have a job offer already and take it, maybe they can help you find a room. There are boarding houses in Old Town that rent rooms for $600-$700 a month in Key West. Doubt the deposit is more than one month’s rent. Before 911, the city police left people alone who slept outside at night. I slept in doorways on Fleming Street, less than a block off Duval Street, and city police left me and other men sleeping in doorways there alone. After 911, it no longer was allowed. There was no other explanation I could come up with for the change, than 911. As if, perhaps, somebody had to be gotten back at, and since Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan and homeless people were nearby … Today, homeless people of the long-term variety are viewed much like lepers were viewed in Jesus’ time, and One Human Family city creed a joke as far as most homeless people around here are concerned. Glad to hear you don’t want to take the city and its police head-on – it would not be fun, and if you have skills and can work and get a place to stay, you will be a lot happier. There are plenty of interesting people in Key West, salty people, real people, one-of-a-kind people, who are what make the city appealing to me. I could care less about the sin-businesses on Duval Street, which rake in gobs of dough from locals and visitors. Lots of galleries, two play-houses, an alternative movie theater that features films you will not see in mainstream movie houses. Lots of different water sports besides just fishing. Three pretty good public beaches, although one is in a state park and a reasonable fee for someone on foot or a bicycle to get in and spend the day. Probably more churches and bars per capita than any other city in the world. No correlation there, of course. Lots of starving artists, writers, poets, musicians, some of whom ply their wares on along Duval Street and on Mallory Pier at the sunset celebration every evening. Also street performers on Mallory Pier, all of which you know, if you have been to Key West before. All you need to get around is a used bicycle with a basket for hauling groceries, or whatever. A good bicycle lock is required, if you don’t want it stolen. You need front and night lights, or you will get a ticket of nearly $100 clams if the fuzz catch you. I knew no one in Key West when I arrived there on Greyhound in late 2000, with around $70 to my name, a smallish backpack and a day pack. En route from Los Angeles, I fell asleep as we approached the state capitol, Tallahassee, and was told in a dream I would be getting to politics. I awoke, terrified. I hated politics. Like what I am terrified of or hate is relevant. Wasn’t long before I was attending and speaking at city commission meetings. I ran for mayor the first time when I was staying at FKOC – 2003. I ran for mayor two more times, and for the county commission three times. Today, I’m somewhat known up and down the Keys and in Key West. Mostly somewhat known as crazy, since I claim angels tell me what to do and write for public viewing, including running for office, and I do it or else. Me and them, the angels, have had some serious disagreements about me running for office, and they let me out of it last year, after I was convinced they would make me move back to Key West and run for mayor again. The consolation prize was learning I had skin cancer and getting Bell’s palsy and having to deal with that. I was pretty sure the angels were going to make me run for the School Board this year, the seat for this part of the Keys, but right now am hoping that ain’t to be, either. Even so, for months I been a writing mucho about school issues and the crappy, destructive way American education methods screw up most kids’ souls. I was told in my sleep around last Thanksgiving, “You will cause a lot of trouble next year.” The angels didn’t wait for January 1 to start that prophesy coming true. It’s a wonder I wasn’t bumped off a bunch of times already, perhaps my frequently saying I hope someone bumps me off so I won’t have to be here any longer has worked against me getting bumped off. I post something irreverent most days to goodmorningfloridakeys.com and goodmorningkeywest.com – if you like being waterboarded, plenty of opportunity there. Lately, I been a waterboarding Key West High School for fostering the bullying of a gay boy whose mother is on my email hit list, which you now have gotten your own self on. Sloan
wow thanks for the info, yeah i dont mind challenging police orcorrupt laws when i think its helpful, but since the 911 stuff took place your right not a whole lot of freedom left in “land of the free”
as for fkoc i really want to check it out, would you suggest i speak with father (grr i need to look up his name) prior to arriving in key west, im confused you showed up with 70 bucks 10 years ago and are still here (there) do you live in key west or somewhere else?
Im fairly sure i can find franks ranch (i think its called franks) with those directions, i had a hunch that it was a real place, whether i can stay there or not is a different story altogether, i have no issue sleeping in my tent while i get on my feet in the area at all, in fact it would allow me to save money, still the fkoc is the best option i think for me if its realistic. FYI i think the ranch is run by a guy named charlie, the rumour is he has one leg, not sure how true all that is,
I really want to make key west my new home, i cannot go back since i have come so far, it took me three months to cross the usa, only 12 days of that time was actual ride time, i have already had to ask strangers for help, slept in their homes and back rooms, been welcomed to be a part of great things and learned so much, also had to sleep in fields, and behind truck stops, but DAMMIT i made it 23000 miles so far, i know i can reinvent myself in key west.
There was a gurl that was supposed to be there for me as well, but on my trip across to florida she went for a walk on a beach off of geiger key and bumped into a guy and suddenly they were dating, the time we had taken to get to know each other went right out the window and i wasl eft with nothing, i dont want to see her in kw and if i do ill walk the other way
lots to think about but my time here in homestead has run its course, ill be moving south soon towards big pine, i hope i find the place and they welcome me, ill stay there until i get a better footing on what to do next, any help you can provide would be awesome and thanks in advance
FYI: go ahead and shake up the bastards on the issues, if i wasnt so in trouble i would join you, people need to be held accountable for the shit they do, and by creating a name for yourself you also have created a voice for others who cannot speak, ill probably vote for you next election, or run against you LOL
Sometimes I received money from my father for Christmas, and that, and my starting to collect Social Security in the fall of 2004, kept me hovering between homeless and almost homeless until my father died in 2005 and I received an inheritance on Valentine’s Day 2006. After that, my internal spirit workload and outside spirit work increased dramatically, to the point I started wishing I was dead. I am spirit-blocked from making a living using what I am good at, and I am forbidden to try to get anything back for spirit work I do. I take on what I’m told to take on, in the way I’m told to take it on. You are in front of me, I am responding. Seems you don’t want my help finding Longhair Ranch. I might or might not be told to publish your and my emails. I seldom know what is coming down, mostly everything is a big surprise. After being a monk since early 2005, except for a brief hour with a biker chick who abudcted me, I am fuzzy whether I’m better off without a woman in my life. My experience has been, when I am with a woman, that’s another job just as big as the one I have when I’m not with a woman. I don’t go looking for women. If I am to be with one, she is brought to me in some way. Then that begins, or not. I’ve become more cautious with getting in a relationship. Women have a very hard time dealing with angels bossing me around, which women I was with tended to think was their job. Women don’t tend to like angels bossing them around, either. A mainland woman I’ve been knowing since 2005 is coming my way today via Greyhound, and I imagine it’s going to be a MAJOR EVENT playing out, based on a dream early this morning. No clue what it will look like, though, as I do not feel romance with her. I suppose my journey has been spectacular, but not in a way I would have arranged. The way to get into FKOC’s program is to go to the Patterson Avenue entry residence shelter and apply for admission. They will tell you how long you might have to wait, interview you, etc. Sloan
on the contrary i do appreciate all the help you have given me and the time you have taken with me. I think i will find franks ranch ok, but if i dont do not be surprised to get a phone all from me
as for the angels i used to see people who had passed on when i was a boy, i could tell if things would happen that were really bad by two chills in sequence up my spine, one was fine but two meant trouble, i think i have inadvertantly saved a fewl ifes that way, but as i got older talking about the people i had seen after they had passed on got me nowhere but people looking at me like i was insane, so i went silent on it.
Just a heads up ill check the fkoc program out and also franks, hopefully the angels help you out with this gurl coming, i know i could use TONS of help in that department myself
This girl is very spiritually gifted, very backwoods, uneducated, sort of like an adopted daughter. I’ve been trying to look after her, but she don’t always like me and gets off the edge of the planet sometimes. Perhaps she is MPD or schizophrenic, perhaps she is just being spiritually clobbered, perhaps a little of all three.
She’s been down here before, has stayed a while at one of the women’s shelters in KW. I don’t feel up to having her stay here again. I’m barely getting by as is. Will take her down to Key West this evening, when I pick her up at the Greyhound stop in Marathon, after I tend to something else up there this afternoon. Or so is the plan. Plans very unpredictable in my life. The angels’ perspective of help seldom matches mine.
From what you describe of your “sensors”, you sound a bit like her. She picks up on lots of stuff, and it wanks her out. A calling like that can be rough, and rough to stick with, also. I get some of that myself, but somewhat different, and I was brought into it pretty slow, with lots of instruction and correction. Some of the correction was seriously terrible.
I just got off the phone with Cecil Bain, a buddy at FKOC’s Patterson House. They have room for you now. Here’s their phone number: (305) 293-0641. He said you can call or go by there.
wow thats a HUGE HELP
I just spoke with a lady at patterson house, she said i need to talk to chris after 3 pm, today, cecil has left for the day
if that gurl gives you too mcuh trouble let me know once i get settled i would be glad to take her out for awhile (im always looking for someone to talk to and a crazy like me might be the best one to hang out with)
tell me more about this gurl, lol im always up for a challenge
so ill probably do ONE NIGHT at franks ranch (so i can say i have been there ) then head to the keys, or maybe take the weekend at tthe ranch and head to FKOC on monday first thing
spoke with chris weltz at patterson, im going to go see him on saturday if all goes well in getting to KW this may be the first step to rebuilding my life!
thanks so much!
This “girl” was born in 1963 and is a bit older than my daughters, who were born in 1968 and 1970. I imagine in a challenge, this “girl” would turn you every which a way but loose, then have you for a snack. But you might find her interesting to get to know. People she is around, she picks up what is ailing them inside, physically, emotionally, etc. She has visions pretty much ongoing. That’s when she is awake. She has dreams about stuff, too. She has a very strong connection with Nature, as well. During the awful draught in south Florida and the Keys in the first half of 2006, she did a rain dance up in north Georgia and in three days or so a deluge came down here. I wrote about it and a postal worker said she wanted to meet the woman who did it, to thank her. Next time she was down this way, I took her by that post office and made the introductions. Maybe the angels are developing her as a shaman. I put her in the youth hostel in Key West tonight, after she did an intake with one of the women’s shelters in Key West by phone driving down there from Marathon this afternoon. I lived at the hostel for several months in the winter and spring of 2003 – they let us do that then, $600 a month. She has stayed at this women’s shelter before, maybe that I told you that already. Don’t know how it will go for her getting into that shelter again, things are so different now in Key West, so many more people are homeless who never wanted to be homeless. For sure, the Tourist Development Council’s ad slogan for the Keys, “Come are you are!”, sure as hell don’t mean homeless people are welcome in Key West. I imagine if the city could get away with it, it would be a jail offense to be homeless for over, say, three months. Have to leave some slack for people who just went homeless to get back into mainstream. For all I know, the angels will tell me to put her up at my place. I can’t afford to keep her at the hostel or in a motel for very long. Like I said yesterday, plans are pretty good at not working out for me. The saying, “We plan, God laughs!” comes to mind. I must have had God in stitches for years, before I final realized what was going on. Patterson House might be a good place for you to start over. I think their entire program is about a year, before they expect you to graduate to independent living, if you do not end up staying on as an FKOC employee and live in one of the shelters. It’s a good program for people who really do want to start again, get back on their feet. However, people run day and night by angels probably don’t fit into any program this world has to offer. Sloan