Jan 302014

Every January 28th, the powers that be in the Florida Keys go out amongst the masses and do a survey and headcount of all the homeless persons in the islands.  They walk the streets, stop at the shelters, crawl under the bridges, and apparently hang out at the dinghy docks and boat ramps.  The purpose of the survey is to get a handle on how many urban outdoorsman call the Keys, “home”.   They then use this information for things like shelters, health care, and other aspects.

The Keys always has attracted a large number of homeless.  The weather probably being the most attractive.  Others become homeless simply because they cannot afford to pay rent, but want to stay.  So they use the shelters, stay in cars, (which is illegal in Key West), or find some other alternative means, which apparently includes live aboards.

I was rather taken aback when reading the articles about the survey that they are including some, not all, but some live aboards.  Nobody came around the marina here to ask questions, and I was not included, in case you were wondering, but they did target those who live on the hook.  Didn’t matter I guess what kind of boat they lived on, if it was on the hook, you were considered homeless.

I did a little research further into this as the article referred to something called, “Federal Minimum Housing Standards”.  If your domicile does not meet these guidelines, then your home is substandard, at least as far as government is concerned, so you are considered homeless.

Below is some of what those minimum standards should be:

§5.425Federal preference: sub- standard housing.

(a) When unit is substandard. (See §5.415(a)(2) and (c)(2)(ii) for applicability of this section to the Section 8 Certificate/Voucher, Project-Based Certificate, Moderate Rehabilitation pro- grams and the public housing pro- gram.) A unit is substandard if it:

(1) Is dilapidated;

(2) Does not have operable indoor plumbing;

(3) Does not have a usable flush toilet inside the unit for the exclusive use of a family;

(4) Does not have a usable bathtub or shower inside the unit for the exclusive use of a family;

(5) Does not have electricity, or has inadequate or unsafe electrical service; 

(6) Does not have a safe or adequate source of heat;

(7) Should, but does not, have a kitchen; 

(8) Has been declared unfit for habitation by an agency or unit of government.

Of these 8 standards, I’m batting a little less than 50%.  While the boat is not dilapidated, at least I don’t think it is, it does not have operable indoor plumbing.  The toilet does sort of flush, just not in the way a normal toilet does.  There is no bathtub nor shower.  Electricity is by way of a single power cord.  Heat with a space heater.  No kitchen, although it did have one at one time.  But the boat has not been declared unfit for habitation by any government agency…at least not yet.  Beyond the boat, everything else I own I can carry on my back, much like the other urban outdoorsman around here.

So, based on that, I guess I qualify as homeless.  And if I am officially homeless in the eyes of government, then I should qualify for all kinds of assistance.  Free money, free food, free medical care.

Hey, this homeless deal sounds pretty damn good.  I’ve already been accused of being kinda crazy so I fit in with the rest of them.  So where is all my free stuff?

Capt. Fritter


  6 Responses to “Living Aboard: I Didn’t Realize I Was Homeless…”

  1. I find it curious that they don’t take into account whether or not you are paying for your accommodations. So someone paying $800/ mo lot rent and a $400/mo payment on a tied down RV would be homeless because they use the showers at the common building, and have a microwave & icebox instead of a galley that is now extra living space? Who knew?

  2. My Mom got some of that free food for a while. If you get the canned pork here’s the trick: drain off the juice to add to soup then stir BBQ sauce into the meat. Once she shared that trick with neighbors they stopped giving her their pork.

  3. Yummmmm… government cheese!

  4. how odd.
    before our time actually… but really not SO long ago… most of the homes in America had no electricity or indoor plumbing or modern heat sources. and they most definitely were NOT homeless!
    like the rules in all neighborhoods even now… you can’t have a clothesline. i guess it’s considered unsightly.
    if I wanted to buy a white ball cap with manatee fritters on it … and i don’t use a credit card…
    would you email me as to the approach i need to take? do they accept checks? thanks.