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Archive for Sunday, December 11, 2005

Homeless-shelter permit should have to be renewed every year, residents say

Facility allows loitering, other problems, neighbor contends

December 11, 2005

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Residents near the Lawrence Community Shelter want City Hall to keep a close eye on the facility.

Shelter officials have asked that their operating permit be reviewed every five years, but nearby landowners say they've had enough problems that the current system of annual renewals should stay in place.

"It is not that I have something against the homeless," said Phil Hemphill, who organized the petition and lives across the street from the shelter at 10th and Kentucky streets. "My opposition is the way it is being run."

Hemphill said the shelter allowed too much loitering, didn't ensure guests could not leave the building at night to drink, and didn't properly prevent residents from trespassing on neighboring property as they entered and left the building.

Shelter director Loring Henderson said he wanted to work with neighbors to address any concerns.

"I want everybody to remember that we're all in this together," Henderson said. "I don't want this to become an us-versus-them situation. This is a community problem. We need a shelter and it needs to be someplace."

The five-member Lawrence City Commission will review the situation Tuesday night.

Hemphill's petition, signed by four property owners within 200 feet of the shelter, forces the commission to muster four votes for any changes to the permit schedule. Commissioners can review the permit whenever they choose, but they normally do so only at scheduled times.

Complaints, decisions

Hemphill said he wasn't trying to close the shelter; he just wants his concerns addressed.

"But if they can't get it cleaned up in a year, I think they should have to get out of the neighborhood," Hemphill said.

Henderson said he was not sure that all the problems reported by neighbors were caused by shelter guests. Staffers, usually two paid professionals and two volunteers, closely watch guests, including when they are outside. He said if there were instances of guests sneaking out to drink alcohol, it was rare.

He also disagreed with the accusations of loitering.

"We are an authorized drop-in center for homeless people," Henderson said. "They are supposed to come here. If they are sitting around the property and having a cigarette, that doesn't seem to be loitering to me."

Henderson said a five-year permit would give his organization much-needed stability.

Commissioners could decide Tuesday against permit renewal, but City Commissioner Sue Hack said she was looking at other options. A five-year permit wouldn't garner her support.

"Maybe we need to establish some timeframes to have the concerns addressed by," she said.

Also as part of the permit process, the shelter is seeking a change in its maximum capacity to allow 31 overnight guests instead of 28. Currently the shelter houses only 21 guests per night, but the shelter previously announced plans to convert an existing storage room to expand the capacity by seven. A fire inspector, though, said the new area could safely sleep 10, which led to the request for an increased capacity.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Comments

Shardwurm 9 years ago

Not only that - they have ILLEGAL CAR WASHES AND SOFTBALL GAMES!1!1!!!

gaiapapaya 9 years ago

I love how Phil Hemphill rants about the homeless. When my daughter was an infant he refused to rent an apartment near the stadium to my husband and I, claiming her crying would prevent students from studying... Whatever, Phil...

miss_tigerus 9 years ago

In response to shelter guests "sneaking out" at night to "drink": The shelters has strick guidelines when it comes to this. Everyone who stays at the night shelter goes through an intake process, they are given shelter rules and regs during this process by the staff. Also every night each person that stays there is accounted for....bascially Mr. Hemphill...there is a nightly "head count" and the staff is on top of who is there. As with any place, though, people are free to leave at any time...it's not a "prison" but...the shelter rules are such that any one who does leave after checking in is banned for 3 days....this was put into place because there is limited space and some people may have been turned away that night So, Loring Henderson is in fact very correct when he stated that it is "rare" that anyone "sneaks" out. And Mr. Hemphill...maybe you should brush up on your knowledge of "addictions" there are people who have this problem....drug as well as alcohol...it also is being addressed by the shelter staff as well as volunteers....I know of countless man hours that have been spent helping folks with these problems...it's not easy, and at times very heart-wrenchng But then Mr. Hemphill....I don't think you have a heart!!

miss_tigerus 9 years ago

And Macon47..."not in my backyard" is not a good attitude either.....

Ragingbear 9 years ago

I do agree on one issue, that there is stuff going on that shouldn't be, and little being done to stop it. Not only is that detrimental to the Community Shelter, but it is also detrimental to the people who really are trying to get off the streets. There are many things that need to change.

However, there are also things in this article that I call BS on, where he is just embellishing things to try to get his own way.

miss_tigerus 9 years ago

To Smitty

I will try to respond to your numerous questions.

First, believe it or not, I am Criminal Justice undergraduate from Washburn University currently staying at the shelter.

Sex in the intersection.....those particular people were not clients of the shelter. They were not staying at the shelter, had been banned from the shelter so thus, it was not the shelters responsiility to "control" their behavior.

LINK....they are seperate from LCS They have their own rules and regs. LCS is not responsible for what happens there...although...LCS staff and volunteers take on some of that responsibity as well, but they are not obligated to do so. They are once again, going "above and beyond"

And the "Rocks" I painted a beautiful rock... :o)

And last but not least...the Lawrence Police Department handles more calls concerning the KU students and all their "menecing" activities than they get from LCS.

miss_tigerus 9 years ago

Not likely smitty, I've just rolled up my sleeves and gotten involved as being part of the solution instead of sitting on the side lines such as yourself merely complaining about it

And you need to ask LMH why they closed the dtox center here in lawrence. They'll tell ya the same thing. No money. And it's not just for the street drunks.

It would be helpfull if people could see the big picture.

And the stats on the police calls came from the Chief. They do handle quit a few more calls.

And I believe a few landlords of ku students have complained about all the beer bottles and trash left on their properties from the students...and I also worked on campus for a year cleaning up after the them....made me wonder if they were" raised in a barn"

So there's some "clean up"to be done on both sides.

tcp 9 years ago

Perhaps Phil would be taken more seriously if he and his family weren't some of the worst slumlords in town.

hilly 9 years ago

The shelter isn't in my back yard, but for the past 13 years I've worked once or twice a month at LINK. I know pretty much all of the homeless community, and they all know me.

I don't think you guys realize how many of the homeless are "good" people that happen to be down on their luck. And most of the people that are causing havoc in the city have some sort of mental disorder. In reality, it's just a few of them that are ruining it and holding up that sterotype of the drunken homeless person in comparison to how many people are actually trying to do something.

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