Archive for Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Homeless haven

July 6, 2005


To the editor:

It's one thing for our city commissioners to devise an ordinance to protect our merchants from homeless campers on their roofs or to forbid "lounging" on our streets, and it's proper to protect our downtown parks, where young kids and families gather, from homeless campers. But it's quite another thing to take away the one place they have found where they can be left alone: far down the river and out of our way, which is truly how they want it.

Surely, a distinction can be made if our commissioners direct it - by our wise city attorney in consultation with our wise city manager - to simply let this secluded haven be!

These are human beings with perhaps more and different needs than you and I; so alienated are many of them that they are basically asking to be left alone. Some respect for that need may be the first step toward helping them find their way back into society and perhaps, beginning to reach their other, more dire, needs. (And it may also be the trust needed to work with them to be sure that they have the protection they need to be safe out there.) There are communities across our country that have recognized and protected and established this type of homeless community park.

I am quite sure the alternative will be to have more disruption and more anti-social behavior where the merchants and their customers don't want it: downtown.

We should note carefully our commissioners' abilities to distinguish rules that protect people's basic rights from those which unnecessarily violate them.

Hilda Enoch,



Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

How much are taxpayers willing to pay? Homeless:

Jail will be very expensive to the taxpayer: $200-$300 per day? I am not sure whether or not Commissioners know the cost per day.

Taxpayers are you ready to spend more tax dollars for additional jail space? Jail space should be reserved for those committing serious violations: murder, rape, spouse abuse, meth lab owners etc.etc.

If the city has money to jail non violent offenders then we have money for a homeless shelter/camping area. We could afford 2-3 staff members supported with volunteers.

Do we need to further congest the courts agendas coupled with the cost of a court appointed attorney. Remember everybody has rights.

Who will define laying down? What is aggressive panhandling? Do you want to leave it to the discretion of a police officer? Will each police officer interpret the same? There is not a way for officers to record events during a shift so that the next shift can bring matters up on their computers. Neighborhoods have requested this capability for a few years which has yet to surface. I see many complications and lots of tax dollars being wasted.

Perhaps it is finally time to explore the city and county coming together on a Douglas County Vo-Tech Campus? I would rather see tax dollars spent on training for those who are capable of such. If not what will the offenders do once released?

A state/county mental health facility instead of using jail space?

J Good Good 12 years, 6 months ago

The campers in question are far from secluded! They have campsites within a stones throw from houses and businesses. Let them camp in your back yard Hilda.

Ragingbear 12 years, 6 months ago

I am quite familiar with the problems caused by camping in the woods along the river. From litter, to public disturbances. However, the homeless and transients of Lawrence WILL find a place to camp. Whether it be a place downtown, a rooftop, an alleyway cubby hole. Under a parked Semi-Trailer. Or otherwise.

Clinton Lake offers free camping with a few simple rules. It also offers some facilities that cannot be provided to River campers, such as clean water, and toilet facilities. But there is one vital problem, how to get there and back. There are currently no busses, or other low-cost form of transportation available to allow the homeless to camp there, go to town in search of food, employment ect. And return that night. With the growing problem of shelter space shrinking, and the situation on the economy and transient/homeless individuals and families in town, this could be helped greatly by arranging for the T to include a route, even if only a few times a day, to go out to Clinton Lake. I know I would enjoy a day out there, but I cannot afford the taxi to and from there. It would be nice. And would definitely cause enough ridership to justify the route.

J Good Good 12 years, 6 months ago

Actually, the group in E. Lawrence is the one that I am referring to, and they have at times caused problems and left a g*dawful flithy mess. And yes, to several of the questions that you asked.

The group down there now is not as bad as it has been at times, but they are definitely not "secluded"! It just seems pretty easy for people to say "oh they are down by the river" and not realize that these people are in the back yards of people and businesses. And there are no facilities for them to do their business and yes, there is drinking and drugging going on...

I have plenty of concern for these people, but the shelter is only about 6 blocks from where they are camping! I think Lawrence has many facilities for the homeless and people should be encouraged to use those and discouraged from camping in the city limits.

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

I'm sorry, but don't people who aren't homeless sometimes leaves messes? Cause problems? And if I'm sitting around on a bench downtown in my Armani suit without any plans of spending any money there, am I 'lounging'? I hate to be corny here, but it was in an Everlast song in which he says: "We've all seen a man at the liquor store begging for your change, he asks a man for what he can spare with shame in his eyes, 'Get a job you f****n slob' is all he replies, but God forbid you had to walk a mile in his shoes...."

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