The mayor and the apartment dwellers want the homeless shelter moved. Will it happen?

For several years, Key West city leaders have been saying they would move their overnight homeless shelter from county property on Stock Island to another site.

At first, it was to appease nearby condo owners who sued the city and then to appease the sheriff, whose complex and jail abut the shelter.

Now, the city’s plan is to keep the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter — built hastily in 2004 to ward off civil lawsuits concerning the treatment of the homeless — right where it is. Key West officials hope they can strike a deal with the county to make it stay permanently.

The reason: to build 104 one-bedroom apartments for low-income workers on the Stock Island spot where at one point the City Commission vowed to place the homeless shelter, where about 100 people spend each night.

The apartments are meant to be temporary, Assistant City Manager Greg Veliz told the Monroe County Commission on Wednesday.

“One bedroom won’t accommodate someone throughout their lifetime,” Veliz said. “It’s a temporary fix before someone can move on.”

Stock Island, once the scruffy fishing village just north of Key West, is morphing from a service island — it’s home to a hospital, sheriff’s office, “Mount Trashmore” landfill — and ramshackle homes and trailers mixed in with newer multifamily complexes. Two luxury hotels recently opened.

When the Florida Keys Mosquito Control announced it was leaving Stock Island to build its own facility up the Keys, the city

Led by former Mayor Craig Cates, a past city commission said affordable housing is more important than the homeless shelter as Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay publicly fumed he has tired of having the shelter next-door to his headquarters.

To compromise, the city has offered to reserve 30 of the new units for his employees. The problem is whether his employees would qualify for low to very low income housing due to some of the grant funding requirements.

“Because of the income restrictions, I’m a little surprised you would deal with a funding source you knew had those restrictions,” County Commissioner David Rice told Veliz.

One county leader said she wasn’t happy that the sheriff’s search for affordable housing for his staff was “taking a backseat” to the homeless shelter.

“You’re better off to take KOTS and find a place to put it,” County Mayor Sylvia Murphy told Veliz.

Murphy said she would bet the city never builds low-income housing on Stock Island.

“I wouldn’t take that bet,” Veliz replied.

“If we close and lock the doors of KOTS those people are going to go out in the community,” Commissioner Danny Kolhage said. ”Yes, they have the right to live and exist but they don’t have a right to trespass. They’ll wind up in our jail.”