By PRU SOWERS Key West Citizen
January 17, 2020
The Key West City Commission received its first look Wednesday at plans for a renovated homeless shelter on Stock Island, but still needs to find the money to fund its construction.
City Engineering Director Steve McAlearney presented a draft design of a new Keys Overnight Shelter that stays in its current location next to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office but would be moved back from College Road to create a buffer between KOTS clients and neighboring property owners.
The design won a thumbs-up from commissioners and a variety of homeless advocates. It will be built out of pre-fabricated metal on stilts. A walkway will lead clients from College Road through a heavily-landscaped area to the building, which will have space for residents to gather under the building. Neighbors and the next-door Monroe County Sheriff’s Office have complained that KOTS clients wait along College Road for the shelter to open in the evening, presenting both aesthetic and safety issues.
An Americans With Disabilities Act ramp will lead up to the elevated building, which will have beds for 56 women and 88 men in separate quarters. Offices, a kitchen and an air-conditioned gathering room are also included in the design, which will allow for a 24-hour facility instead of the current overnight-only shelter if city commissioners decide to expand services.
The current KOTS facility is in poor shape, said City Manager Greg Veliz and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
“As far as it’s useful life, it’s very bad,” he told commissioners. “Now, we’re just holding it together.”
The challenge now is where to find the $3 million McAlearney it will cost to build the new shelter. There is no money set aside in this year’s budget for the project. However, there is a private individual who has said he will match an unnamed amount of money raised for the building, Veliz said.
There may be another approximately $1.7 million available from the Key West Affordable Housing Trust Fund that can be put toward the project, Budget Director Mark Finigan said. If the funding comes together, construction could begin sometime this year.
City and Monroe County government officials hammered out an agreement last year to build a new facility at its current location.
In other workshop discussion…