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Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Salvation Army faces obstacles in building new shelter

April 22, 2006

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The Salvation Army still has a $2 million hill to climb to collect what it needs to build a $3.5 million shelter.

"We're certainly not where we'd like to be at this point," said Wesley Dalberg, Lawrence administrator for the organization.

The Salvation Army plans to replace its existing home at 946 N.H. with a more expansive, two-building site southeast side of downtown. The facility will include space for sleeping quarters, a food bank, a gymnasium, a chapel, dining areas and other uses. It will be geared toward helping the homeless deal with substance abuse or other problems and find work.

That's a marked change from the current services, Dalberg said.

"Today it's a Band-Aid," Dalberg said. "Here's a bed. Here's a meal. That's what we provide right now ... That's not where we're headed."

The shelter's most recent hurdle came last month when questions arose as to whether the site should be rezoned as part of the Burroughs Creek Corridor Plan, which would change the site's zoning from industrial to office uses.

And Dalberg has met with residents in the neighborhood who have voiced concerns about the project.

Salvation Army leaders and others convened a special neighborhood meeting recently to reassure residents that the new facility will be different from the current one.

"We're going to do our best to deal with the issues that they have," he said.

Salvation Army leaders have tentatively agreed to put several promises in writing. This includes vows to never to house prison parolees in the facility, to create an advisory council with strong representation from the neighborhood, to never knowingly allow the facility to be a hangout spot, and to never knowingly allow illegal activities to take place.

Matt Tomc, president of The Woods on 19th Homeowners Assn., said residents in the area were continuing to watch the project carefully.

"We just want to make sure the land use that they propose is something that's consistent with the family homes in that area," he said.

Dalberg said there wasn't any real deadline for gathering the funds for the project. Construction is expected to begin in 2007.

He said he didn't expect a major public fundraising campaign, but the agency would be active. He expects to have events, such as a block party or carnival, to get acquainted with the neighborhood.

"We can't separate ourselves," he said. "That piece of property over on Haskell isn't an island. We want to be an important part of the community overall."

Comments

introversion 8 years ago

Brook Creek neighborhood association had a neighborhood meeting which they invited Mr. Dahlberg to. While he did show up, he couldn't really answer anybody's questions directly, he didn't seem to really commit to anything about the project except that he thinks its going to be a great idea, and furthermore, he didn't take any notes whatsoever about the concerns of his neighbors whom he is allegedly so excited about getting acquainted with.

Oh, there were two things he would commit to-

  1. They turn away people who are under the influence (which leaves them on the streets outside the facility to wander as they wish)

  2. They do no background checks to determine whether the people they give shelter to are felons or sexual predators. Instead, he explained that this sort of information makes its way through the rumor mill of the people who stay at the shelter.

It sounds to me like they should spend the 1.5m which they have already raised to create some policy reform.

The East side of town, especially in the area where this new facility is intended to be built has already taken it's fair share of community resources. Stand at the intersection of 15th and Haskell and start counting. I realize that it all has to do with money, that the property is cheaper and whatnot, but come on... keep these people downtown.

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ljreader 8 years ago

I left out breakfast- As far as I know, the Jubilee Cafe is still operating- It's in yet another nearby church. Here, they have sit down breakfasts complete with waitresses to take their breakfast order.The wait staff are community volunteers (often sorority girls). They also have volunteers that clean up afterward.I wouldn't want to be homeless, but it doesn't suck so bad in Lawrence.

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ljreader 8 years ago

Yeah- between Vermont and Kentucky St on 10th is where the walk- in shelter is located- It's basically a hangout and gathering place- A headquarters, of sort. Across from that, is the church where they get free lunches on the days the Army isn't serving them. They get free lunch MWF at the Sally. Lunches on the other days are at the other church. The SA feeds them dinner every night, and gives them a place to sleep every night. So, they basically roam back and forth between these spots which are only a few blocks from one another. The East Lawrence neighborhood is concerned about the shelter being relocated to their neighborhood. They will still go downtown because of the other "features."This means they will be roaming (some drunk and on drugs) through neighborhoods where children play and attend school. Some may be sexual predators- who knows? Also, I doubt this will do much for the east Lawrence residents' property values. It's just a bad idea all the way around to relocate the shelter in a residential neighborhood. Unless, of course, it's 6th and Wak-lol- (That one's for you, Macon).

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macon47 8 years ago

I BET IF THEY BUILT IT AT 6TH AND WAK the westies would still be in tears

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howard_beale 8 years ago

It's funny..........you become a "homeless friendly city".....and, well, you get an awful lot of homeless people just hanging around!

And hanging around.

And hanging around.

I was in Manhattan recently..........and guess what? I got the distinct impression that Manhattan is not a homeless friendly city. And you know why?

Easy.

The lack of homeless people (in large numbers) in the greater downtown area.....and few, if any, homeless people hanging out at the Manhattan library.

Now does Manahattan have homeless people? Of course it does!

......but not like Lawrence.

And even though Manhattan's population base isn't what Lawrence's is....it doesn't matter. Even on a per capita basis, Manhatttan doesn't have the homeless problem that Lawrence has.

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howard_beale 8 years ago

What I meant was......does the SA instruct homeless people to go panhandle on Vermont (no bucket and bell). I see an awful lot of homeless people on Vermont.

Anyway, I have noticed that, time and again, many Mass. St. stores that advertise for job openings (in the LJ World classified section) always say the same thing..."Please mail in your resume.....walk-ins not accepted!

And we both know why that is!

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ljreader 8 years ago

With that said, it is simply not true that ALL homeless are unwilling to work. Several years ago, I worked downtown. The business owner often had a "help wanted" sign posted in the window. Many homeless folks came in seeking work. The owner would lie and say the position had already been filled, and that she forgot to remove the sign from the window. This woman spent alot of time bitching and moaning about "those damn filthy homeless people", but refused to give any one of them a chance. This was not a high end boutique or retail clothing store. It was a cafe, and the positions she needed filled consisted of dishwasher and janitorial work,- jobs exactly suited for people in their position to have a chance to get on their feet. It may be true that they might have turned out to be unreliable. I have also worked with plenty of individuals who were not homeless, and who were also unreliable. Why bitch about people, then not give them a chance when they are asking for one? Currently, I have a friend who pulls up to the Community Walk-in Shelter, and offers day work. He always finds folks eager to work. He employs them doing such things as yardwork, etc, and says they have always done a good job, and worked hard. Many of them are suited for this kind of responsibility, but would be unable to hold down a full time job due to transportation problems, and especially alcoholism- A problem the Salvation Army does little to address, except to refuse shelter if one is drunk. I'm sure there are at least some (maybe even many) who have absolutely no interest in working. Why should they? The Salvation Army enables them to stay on the streets. They can get 3 squares a day, 7 days a week with nothing- not even a requirement to seek a job- being required of them. (Some are not fit for employment because of psychological problems, etc).The Salvation Army is the lead enabler in this town that help the homeless to stay that way.Then, they ask the rest of us to enable them to enable homelessness by panhandling with their buckets and asking for donations for their new shelter. There are families who occassionally need temporary shelter. Their efforts should focus on these people.

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ljreader 8 years ago

I didn't say the SA tells the homeless to go out and panhandle- Panhandling is one of the ways the church itself raises funds. You've never seen a SA bell-ringer with their buckets, panhandling money from shoppers in front of stores? No matter what you want to call it, it is panhandling. A real inspiration for the homeless who are in need of money. This "fund-raising" is done, as usual, by community volunteers. Why not come up with a more constructive way of raising funds? Why not ask the homeless, who, in large part are the ones who the SA are helping, to contribute something to their own upkeep? The homeless eat and sleep at the SA several times a week, yet community volunteers assist a couple of paid workers (not homeless) to prepare and serve meals, then clean up the dining room afterwards, while the homeless loiter around outside after their free meals, smoking ciggies, and bumming money for their next bottle of booze. It's SA policy to not require anything out of able bodied users of the facilities- Doesn't that seem like enabling to you? If the SA were providing any real service, we would not see the same faces, year after year on the streets, and in front of the Salvation Army.


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Kelly Powell 8 years ago

I am having a carpenter friend of mine build me a shoe shine box.....When I am not working at my job I will go downtown , have a beer or a coffee, and proceed to make some extra cash.......I will gladly give up said box to the first homeless guy who has the testicular fortitude to try to make an honest dollar.

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howard_beale 8 years ago

And where does the SA tell them to go panhandle?

Up and down Vermont?

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ljreader 8 years ago

A-Eyes has it right. The Salvation Army not only enables and encourages homelessness, now they are in the business of importing poverty here. I don't advocate turning our backs on the homeless, but clearly the methods employed by the SA aren't effective in truly helping anyone beyond lunch to dinner time. Evidentally they are not a very creative bunch. Their idea of raising funds for their churches' needs is to send people out on the streets with buckets to panhandle. What a role model for the homeless.

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Reality_Check 8 years ago

I don't like the Haskell idea either. Never have. THat's NOT where the homeless congregate...they congregate downtown. Keep it where the need is.

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Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Three neighborhood individuals were told by Rev. Forney of the Salvation Army that if the SA did not build at the Haskell site it was no big deal because that property would become investment property for the Salvation Army. Why not sell it,make a few bucks and expand at the current location where the SA owns the property? The SA should make wise use of its' resources.

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Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Nothing has been put in writing to date. There does not seem a lot of trust in the board due to many previous meetings with the board in which the neighborhoods walked away with nothing. Implied promises were part of several meetings which went on for a few months ultimately proved meaningless.

What will promises in writing mean? Not a lot. This will not be a legal document. Each time a director change takes place what then? Each new director thus far has come with a new plan. Who would enforce promises? This board has repeatedly implied they cannot set policy which would render promises meaningless.

Once the dowtown facility is gone that's one less place for the "street people" to legally congregate. Downtown how then do you intend to legally deal with the street people? Why not spend the money dressing up the existing facility and placing an outdoor area on the alley much like The Replay has designed? Once the Salvation Army abandons this needy group who will assume responsibility? People cannot be tossed in jail for being homeless.

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auricular_eyes 8 years ago

There does not need to be a new shelter. If the service provided were effective the homeless population would decrese instead of increas.

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horrific_changeling 8 years ago

Put it in the current library, when the new one is built! No need to build a new building.

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