Key West And Monroe County Look To Swap Land For Homeless Shelter And Employee Housing

Sep 17, 2019

For years, the city of Key West and Monroe County have been at odds about the location of the city's homeless shelter. But they may have reached a resolution.

The city opened the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter, or KOTS, in 2004. It's on county-owned land next to the jail and Monroe County Sheriff's Office headquarters.

The site is on Stock Island, but within city limits.

Some residents of a neighboring condo and marina complex were unhappy about the shelter's location and sued the city. The lawsuit was dropped after the city agreed to move the shelter.

But after voting to move it to a different site of city-owned property down the road, the city changed its mind and decided it needed that entire property for affordable housing. A 104-unit complex is underway there.

The sheriff's office wanted the property to build housing for employees. Some deputies come down for the mainland and bunk in the jail between shifts.

Two years ago, the county gave the city a deadline of Sept. 27 of this year to move the shelter. The two government entities have been in talks about how to resolve the issue.

Their solution: the shelter will stay on Stock Island, though the city says it will be deeper on the property to lessen the impact on neighbors.

The county will get land on Trumbo Road in Key West, near the Coast Guard base. That property could only be used for up to 40 units of affordable housing.

The Key West City Commission unanimously approved the deal Tuesday evening. The Monroe County Commission did the same on Wednesday.