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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Shelter gets new boss
Sanders named interim leader of KOTS

The city of Key West's only overnight homeless shelter will switch directors this month, according to the nonprofit that manages the Stock Island bunkhouse.

Angela Nunez, hired in July after the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League fired 4 1/2-year director Nancy Banks, has given her notice and wants to return to her home state of Texas, SHAL Executive Director Wendy Coles said Monday.

Patrice Sanders, an eight-year veteran administrator at AIDS Help, Inc. until her dismissal in October, was hired on an interim basis, said Coles.

"We are fortunate that Patrice Sanders is available at this time and willing to step in on an interim basis," said Coles.

The job had paid $38,500 a year, but Coles said that Sanders' pay is "to be determined."

SHAL is reassessing its needs and hasn't launched a search for a permanent director, said Coles.

"It's not the 'KOTS director,'" Coles said. "It will be a director of homeless services because we are combining" the shelter and a second homeless relief program.

Before being hired to run KOTS, Nunez had worked on SHAL's year-old mobile outreach unit, a recreational vehicle that roams Key West streets with a case worker during the daytime, when the island has no comprehensive homeless service center open.

The RV program, which SHAL persuaded the city to fund for a second fiscal year despite its original pitch as a pilot program, is meant to make up for homeless services when KOTS empties each morning around 7 a.m.

SHAL began managing the city's Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter Oct. 1, 2011, after the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition bowed out after a neighboring condo association filed a lawsuit demanding that the shelter close down given its hasty creation in 2004.

The suit, filed by the Sunset Marina condo owners, continues in state court Jan. 4 with a hearing set before Chief Circuit Court Judge David Audlin.

Audlin last month heard more than five hours of testimony by witnesses who included former assistant city manager John Jones.

Jones testified that the city was in an "emergency situation," in 2004, when it came to the homeless who had set up tents along the Bridle Path of South Roosevelt Boulevard, and on public beaches. The building of KOTS took place without the typical public advertising of meetings and planning board hurdles.

SHAL's debut into providing services led to the board of directors recreating the nonprofit. Created 13 years ago to funnel state and federal grants into the Florida Keys for nonprofits, SHAL this year decided to let go of that obligation and run the city's homeless programs.

The City Commission last week approved Mayor Craig Cates' proposal to begin planning a 24-hour homeless shelter at the former Easter Seals property on College Road on Stock Island.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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