Archive for Saturday, June 24, 2006

Homeless shelter considers move to 31st Street

Director says taking over nursing home site would allow expansion of services

June 24, 2006

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The Lawrence Community Shelter is aggressively pursuing a plan to move from its downtown location into a vacant nursing home in southwest Lawrence.

Shelter leaders are looking to purchase the former Lakeview Manor Nursing Home at 3015 W. 31st St., which recently closed after regulators terminated its Medicaid and Medicare contracts.

Loring Henderson, the shelter's director, said the 22,000-square-foot building and the 7 acres of real estate would allow the shelter to expand from serving approximately 20 people per night in its current location to about 100.

"I think this is going to be as good of a situation as we're ever going to find," said Henderson, who noted the property already was on the city's bus route. "I'm very excited about the possibilities. I think we all ought to be jumping up and down about this."

Sitting on the front porch of the Lawrence Community Shelter are, from left, Rosemary Hubbard, Josie Miller and Jimmie Bowser. The shelter has an interest in purchasing the former Lake View Manor property in southern Lawrence to replace its current site. Hubbard, who uses a wheelchair, and Miller and Bowser, who have all used the current shelter, think a move to the former Lake View Manor could be good. "We'd help fix it up," Miller said at the shelter Friday.

Sitting on the front porch of the Lawrence Community Shelter are, from left, Rosemary Hubbard, Josie Miller and Jimmie Bowser. The shelter has an interest in purchasing the former Lake View Manor property in southern Lawrence to replace its current site. Hubbard, who uses a wheelchair, and Miller and Bowser, who have all used the current shelter, think a move to the former Lake View Manor could be good. "We'd help fix it up," Miller said at the shelter Friday.

The building has a $2 million asking price. Henderson said the shelter would have to launch a fundraising campaign to purchase the property. He will ask city commissioners on Tuesday night for either a $50,000 loan or grant to help the shelter secure an option to purchase the property, which would give the shelter the exclusive rights to purchase the property.

Mayor Mike Amyx said the city would listen, but he stopped short of supporting the project.

"The biggest thing I have to understand is exactly what we're looking at in terms of city participation," Amyx said. "It brings up a lot of questions about the city's future involvement in the shelter."

Henderson has been looking for a new location for the shelter - which is located at 944 Ky. - after complaints from neighbors and downtown merchants have grown. Several neighbors have complained of loitering and trespassing issues related to the shelter's occupants.

"The amount of space around the building gives us comfort that the people will be in the building or near it," Henderson said. "They may have to go up the road. They may walk to Target or to Cottonwood. They will be visible. But we think there will be a lot less hanging around outside the property."

Most of the housing in the Lakeview Manor area is on the north side of 31st Street. Several neighbors said they were withholding judgment about the proposal.

"I don't have anything against the homeless shelter as long as I think the neighborhood will be safe," said Janet Stallard, who lives on West 30th Street, across from the nursing home. "We do have a very safe neighborhood now. There are lots of people who walk early in the morning and late at night."

Extended inteview clip

Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, has submitted a proposal to the city commission that the shelter be moved to the former Lake View Manor nursing home near 31st and Kasold. Enlarge video

Others, though, said they had real concerns. Tim Sanders, who also lives on West 30th Street, said: "If they have had problems with 20 people, what is it going to be like when they have five times that many people? Are we just going to shift and expand the problem?"

"For me, I would love to see it get out of downtown," said Randy Dyke, who had been homeless in Lawrence for nine months before finding a home about a year ago. "But there are a lot of people, some of the heavy drinkers especially, who wouldn't want it to leave."

Some neighbors of the downtown shelter were pleased to hear that shelter leaders were looking to move.

"I'm encouraged in two different ways," said Phil Hemphill, who lives near the shelter. "The second is it looks like it could be moving out of my neighborhood."

Lake View Manor

If a deal for the nursing home property is struck, it would be the second major homeless service provider to leave downtown. Salvation Army leaders are raising money to move their shelter, church and service center from 10th and New Hampshire streets to a site near 19th Street and Haskell Avenue.

Henderson said the nursing home site would come equipped with beds and other necessary equipment that would make it close to a "turnkey" operation for the shelter. It also includes a commercial kitchen that would allow the shelter to offer a full-scale meal program.

In a memo to city commissioners, Henderson said that the larger building could require the hiring of three new full-time employees, and that utility bills for the larger place could be about $5

Comments

geekin_topekan 8 years, 11 months ago

I haven't actally been to the shelter in many moons but the last time I was there all I saw was locals from the vermont towers and some other derilicts who've been in Lawrence for years hanging out in back. The Problem population that many fear are actually not guests of the shelter.It is simply a common gathering spot and a place to find the gang. Once the shlter is moved the invisible homeless population will be the ones living at 31st.The families and kids and the single guys who are desperately trying to get on their feet. "they aren't trying,they're staying drunk..." Thats the visible homeless population you speak of.Thats the ones who will remain downtown,panhandle,pee in the flowerbeds crowd. So there are good and bad points to the new proposed shelter.Good.Space and growth of services. Bad.Leave the downtowners to find a new spot to gather.Think they're nuisance now?Just wait.

Atreides 8 years, 11 months ago

How 'bout Alvamar as an ideal location for a Homeless Shelter?? ;-)

Moderateguy 8 years, 11 months ago

Creating a "Homeless Resort" with individual rooms and a full kitchen for a hundred people is not solving the problem. You are not only enabling the behavior, you are ENCOURAGING it!!!! Wait til the word gets out on the rails about this. Stop the insanity! Please Mr. Amyx and Mrs. Hack, help the others see that Lawrence does not want to be a destination for homeless people. Close the wet shelter, don't expand it!

8 years, 11 months ago

I'd rather see it become a Daycare center, we could use more of those.

Hunter2049 8 years, 11 months ago

I'll be damned if they encourage more of the homeless to move South. This is not solving the problem......moving into a bigger/better location doesn't encourage people to not be homeless, it encourages more to become it.

Rediculous. I find one homeless person outside my house and there's going to be trouble. I mean, come on! This is a residential area! School children playing in their front yards, the bike/walking trail, all of the family's that live on this side of town will now be put in danger. Don't believe me? Walk down Mass street at night and have a couple of drunken homeless fire off some swears at you or cat calls at your family members. Now let's moev them away from downtown and near a neighborhood? You've got to be kidding!

simplifying 8 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps a work center, a garden, a bakery staffed by volunteers and homeless on the land? Places for tents? Lots of good possiblities. Think positive....

bankboy119 8 years, 11 months ago

Hunter, as much as I agree, you have to remember that the current center is right by a residential neighborhood as well.

flames_over_the_wasteland 8 years, 11 months ago

"Reduction" and "enhancement" do not mean the same thing, "right"thinker. I know you're trying to use that little uneducated brain . . .

paladin 8 years, 11 months ago

Are there people out there who are planning for Lawrence to become a Mecca for the homeless from all over the country? It makes allot of sense. Right on I-70, right in the middle of the country. Right sized community. Liberal history. Something to think about.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 11 months ago

Planning? It's a done deal....we are a major stop off for the cross country drifter. Wait until the fall semester students come back, Mass. st looks like the frikin rainbow gathering for about two weeks.

Daniel Speicher 8 years, 11 months ago

Yes, yes... Let's keep passing the buck on the homeless population... They'll keep on moving from city to city that way and, eventually, will die from the elements or from starvation... But, at least they won't be any one city's problem. Seems like a humane solution.

If you all really want to see the homeless stop being homeless and start being productive you're going to have to put your money where your mouths are. Most of these people have severe mental or emotional problems that completely disable them from being able to work. To fix that problem in the homeless population takes a lot of money and a good deal of time. To make a successful program work FOR the homeless instead of ENABLING the homeless takes money for mental health professionals and drugs to get them to the point they can work and be a productive part of society. From there sustainability for the program, obviously, would be more focused to the incoming homeless and not the ones who have jobs and, therefore, can sustain themselves.

I agree the homeless programs in town should have checks and balances... But, let's face it, we need to make one of two options:

1. Be completely heartless and send them packing... Stop ANY and ALL public funding for the shelters and create ordinances making it all but impossible for a homeless populace to survive in Lawrence.

Or...

2. Generate enough funds to hire the mental health professionals needed for both The Salvation Army and The Open Shelter and enough funds for the drugs they will need to administer to those in the shelters.

I believe every person has a purpose on this earth... Even those who are "cussing out" your family members as you walk down Mass St. Unfortunately, in our society, we have labeled them as a population who "cannot be helped" and, therefore, should be sent packing in whatever community they land in... We have become a society more concerned about eliminating eye sores than helping people in a holistic way.

--Danny Speicher

Scott Drummond 8 years, 11 months ago

Is it just me, or do the three leeches featured in the picture accompanying this article look amazingly well-fed and provided for? Life as a homeless person evidently does not involve missing many meals, or, from the looks of things, much regular physical exertion. I am glad also that little Snoop Doo Doo and his fine honey are not missing out any of today's latest tunes. While life is no doubt a bummer as one of Lawrence's disadvantaged homeless flock, at least there are enough funds available for a stylin hat!

The best lesson or service anyone could provide these three is a lesson in the dignity of providing for oneself and making a positive contribution to society. Being a leech on one's community should not be a comfortable existence.

boredwithu 8 years, 11 months ago

Hunter2049 wrote "walk down mass street at night and have a couple of drunken homeless fire off some swears at you or cat calls at your familly members"

I personaly have never had that happen. However, I have been repeatedly harassed by drunken college guys. I"ve heard every obscenity in the book. I've been grabbed, propositioned, one group threw a beer bottle at my boyfriend when he objected to their cat calls of 'show your tits".

When I have been approached by a homeless type person I either give them a quarter or tell them I don't have it but good luck. Either way I almost always get a hardy "god bless you" for my efforts.

Unfortunately, you can't flip a drunk college kid a quarter to get them to leave you alone.

LawSW 8 years, 11 months ago

For ModerateGuy: I've actually worked in the proposed building site & the majority of the rooms, in order to house 100 people are semi-private rooms--one's they will share and there are a few private rooms--so the staff will need to be prepared to handle the usual "roommate wars." There is a commercial kitchen and dining area with windows on three sides. There's a common seating area/t.v. area. There are two outdoor seating areas on the ends of the building for the smokers (they'll smoke in equal amounts most likely to the workers who have worked there over the years (nursing homes are the most regulated entities, recently surpassing nuclear power plants--therefore high stress/political). There is an indoor smoking room with air filtration. The building is set back far off the street/less noise. My only concern is that they protect the lake back there from someone getting drunk and diving in and drowning, which rumor has it has happened in years past (the drowning). There was an area for therapeutic gardening at wheelchair level (elevated planter boxes) on one patio area. There was a rehab/physical/occupational/speech therapy room & another activity room for therapeutic activities. The building is alarmed, not that they'll need that for the purposes we did but when you're that far from the street, you want to know who is at your door in the middle of the night.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 11 months ago

None of these issues are unique to this site. All must be dealt with wherever the shelter is located. I disagree that such a site promotes homelessness, though. Reducing the capacity of this community to address homelessness does not mean it will stop. The population to be served has a stake, and knows the concerns and issues they face on a daily basis. For the shelter to successfully provide for their immediate needs, prepare them to leave the homeless population, and reduce the barriers they face to both. And THAT, Pilgrim, is why they should be asked. Not because we want to make the beggars, choosers.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 11 months ago

on the bright side....they would be a lot closer to the work force center.......to you know, GET A JOB!

Luxor 8 years, 11 months ago

I have been harassed by homeless men the last three times I went downtown on Mass. St. I won't go to Mass. any more -- I've had it. One homeless guy called my mother a "slut" when she declined to give him any money. She won't be shopping downtown any longer, either. The homeless on Mass. St. are a much bigger threat to our downtown than the Gap, Starbucks, or the waterline project. People are going to stop coming in from KC to shop and when football season starts and out of town guests are subjected to being panhandled and verbally harassed by these people, families are going to stop coming from out of town. I'm begging the city commission -- please, please, do something about these people destroying our downtown. I don't feel safe on Mass. any more.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

Why do the "homeless" have to be "housed" in one building?

The LJW says the rental vacancy rate in Lawrence is anywhere from 15% to 20%. There are plenty of places for the homeless to set up housekeeping, if only they had the money for rent. If the Community Shelter just wants to give people a place to stay, and is not requiring anyone to get treatment or change their ways, why not just rent houses and apartments for them? Give them a timeline, say 6 months of free rent, and after that, they are on their own. I'd rather see that than have a situation where children might be living in a communal setting with criminals and addicts. I also don't want my tax dollars to provide a place for addicts to congregate and support one another other in their bad habits.

That would be a whole lot more efficient that spending $2,000,000 on a building, $50,000 a year on additional staff and $55,000 more per year for utilities.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

Add to the cost to the taxpayers the loss of property tax on a $2,000,000 commercial building. Every time we take property off the tax rolls to give to a not-for-profit org or to the government, the rest of us have to pony up the difference.

optimist 8 years, 11 months ago

That's great. Put a shelter near the walking trails where I commonly see women and children. We can never know the psychology of the people at the homeless shelter but it's a safe bet that their psychology has much to do with being homeless for many.

Given the level of privacy that many areas along the walking trail provide it is of great concern for me to place 100 homeless people so close to it. I think it would only be a matter of time before something bad happened.

rayikeo 8 years, 11 months ago

Why don't we just put an add in the paper, "Wanted, 80 more down and out freeloaders to fill up our new $2 Million Dollar free shelter. All expenses paid, no criminal background checks, bring your own pot and boose. Lawrence, Ks 66049

BJ 8 years, 11 months ago

Look at the picture in this article. The "wheelchair lady" has a dog that she ties up to her chair and runs over frequently. The other two are listening to their Ipods, something I wish I could buy. The shelter away from downtown? Absolutely, maybe we can save downtown before it's too late. Moving the shelter elsewhere? Why? It doesn't work to have a "wet" shelter, especially if you enable them like Loring and his "gang" do instead of having accountability. I sound like a broken record, but for crying out loud, GET A GRIP! Close the thing down, and the problem will go away. All that have no business being near the shelter will go elsewhere (the next town or whoever enables them like our shelter), and we can actually focus on the metally unstable and help these folks. The shelter is pretty much murdering the people that stay there. They do not give them help, they just make their cases worse.

lawrencechick 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree. Completely CLOSE THE OPEN SHELTER and let the Salvation Army one (which actually demands some responsibility) expand. There is a direct link to the demise of downtown to when the shelter opened. The picture shows three able bodied people draining this community of resources. Enough is enough! The city commission better not even consider this ridiculous plan. It's time to give all the able bodied homeless a bus ticket out of town.

mcwestcoast 8 years, 11 months ago

Posted by scott3460 on June 24, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.

"...I am glad also that little Snoop Doo Doo and his fine honey are not missing out any of today's latest tunes..."


Is "Snoop Doo Doo" the best you could come up with? Why not go for the gold and say ":that little Ni&&er and his fine honey:"? either way, both "titles" offensive.

Rhoen 8 years, 11 months ago

Of course, once the homeless are "housed" they won't be "homeless" anymore. And we can watch the local statisticians apply their one of their standard reckoning schemes and lay claim to another victory over a major social problem.

lawrencechick 8 years, 11 months ago

"Really? Do you know the medical history of those able-bodied looking people in the picture? Do you actually know why they are homeless? Until you actually have the facts, lets leave off the speculation & judgement. I'd also like to see the proof of the "direct link" of the shelter & the demise of downtown."

      Well, if they are able bodied enough to caress eachother on porch in the middle of the day, something tells me they could probably be washing the sidewalk, picking up trash, or weeding the city playgrounds (weren't they  looking for help?) I'm  all for helping and have helped poor families, but the open shelter is a nothing  but a hangout for the drunk, drugged and lazy.  People like you, who continue to encourage and enable people to do nothing with their lives, are ruining what used to be a beautiful downtown.

dthroat 8 years, 11 months ago

Enforcer - I don't tend to agree with you, but I think you made several good posts on this one. You have the first hand experience to know what it is like and have the understanding and willingness to help.

Unfortunately you have also seen the reality of life and have seen no matter how "noble" it is to try to save everyone, not all of them want to be "helped". They want to do just whatever they want (and yes I know/understand addictions swbsow).

There comes a time enabling is all that is going on and this shelter is very good at that. There are somedays I wish I too could live without worrying about rules and know that someone will just help me out.

OK I am on a soapbox here and time to shut up -- just some good posts today enforcer.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 11 months ago

And I tought this was about a homeless shelter proposal, gez how missleading is the headline.

FormerCentralKansan 8 years, 11 months ago

The "homeless" problem in Lawrence is not that bad. I can see some disabled person or single mom with kids being labled as homeless and having some problems and I really am happy that they can find help here. However, what we are really talking about is the "bum" population in Lawrence. I see these bums everywhere I go and I'm sick of it. It must be nice to do nothing all day but mess around and have a nice place to sleep at night plus food. We are the real suckers here...we work hard to provide for our families PLUS our taxes give these bums time to do what they do best...NOTHING.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 11 months ago

i see some one is on a roll today so have fun but i tend to agree with -formercentalkansan- but you two have fun.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

swbsow wrote: "That is why you find out why they are homeless. You screen out the ones who want no part of change. Not everybody in a homeless shelter is a drunk or druggie. You see them out more often than the others. They are the more visible population which is why the ones who truly need help are lost in the picture."

That would be great if that was the policy of this shelter. This particular shelter is open to anyone and everyone, drunk, drinking, drugged out, and on the lam from the law; they cater to the "homeless" that will not abide by the rules of the countless other programs that are available to the homeless. They attract, and welcome, the bums. That is why I am opposed to seeing this shelter expand. The folks that run it have proven that they cannot maintain control the 20 they house now, nor can they prove they now how to be conscientious neighbors. There is absolutely no evidence that they will improve on their management and people handling skills when they have 100 unruly bums under one roof.

Berserk 8 years, 11 months ago

WOWEE, THIS COULD MEAN THAT SOUTH LAWRENCE IS GOING TO BECOME THE SAME AS EAST LAWRENCE...

I CAN JUST HEAR THE DOLLARS ROCKETING OFF OF YOUR PROPERTY VALUES IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD.

GG SOUTH LAWRENCE.

Berserk 8 years, 11 months ago

Better yet, lets move the shelter down by the river, that way, when they hit rock bottom, they have an easy out, and we have less of a problem.

Rock bottom!

ROFL

BJ 8 years, 11 months ago

Read these words by one of the "posters" again; they make too much sense for some people that post comments here. A normal defence mechanism is to then try to attack other "posters" to hide their own lack of intelligence. If you can't stay on the topic, please be quiet.

Quote: This particular shelter is open to anyone and everyone, drunk, drinking, drugged out, and on the lam from the law; they cater to the "homeless" that will not abide by the rules of the countless other programs that are available to the homeless. They attract, and welcome, the bums. That is why I am opposed to seeing this shelter expand. The folks that run it have proven that they cannot maintain control the 20 they house now, nor can they prove they now how to be conscientious neighbors. There is absolutely no evidence that they will improve on their management and people handling skills when they have 100 unruly bums under one roof.

rayikeo 8 years, 11 months ago

The downtown people think a move to 31st St is a good idea only because it might get rid of the homeless on Mass St. However with 5 times as many homeless there are 5 times the major problems of 100 people that will need food, medical attention, staff to opperate the property. heat, a/c water, and all kinds of other handouts.

Does anyone know what the cost of financing $ 2 Million is? The mortgage payment alone would be $20,000 per month. The City of Lawrence needs to get out of the job of homeless caretakers.

Tanya Spacek 8 years, 11 months ago

There's truth to the "homeless vs. bums" argument. It's too bad the bums make it hard for the homeless to get services without being lumped in with them.

I've been homeless before. Way back when I was 17, 18 I hitchhiked around with my then-boyfriend, and we worked at day-labor jobs and slept behind stores. As long as I had toothpaste and deodorant, I could deal, but it wasn't a happy existence. Everywhere we went, I saw people who loved this way of life. I was too ashamed to panhandle, but other homeless people would cuss passersby out for not giving them money. And the money they did get? Went straight to alcohol or cigarettes, since food was available at kitchens and backs of retaurants. There's enough programs in place nationwide to help people get back on their feet.

Since I know this, I don't give money to bums on the street. For one thing, my husband and I have enough people lined up with their hands out for our paychecks: banks, utility companies, and so on. But in return, they're giving me water, electricity, a house, a car. What little money we have left over gets set aside for a rainy day. We go walking downtown because it's free exercise and entertainment. One time, we see this:

We see kids who are wearing newer clothes than us asking people for change. They ask us as we pass. We have no money in our pockets, save a dime I found on the sidewalk a few blocks back. We say to them, as a joke, "real change comes from within." They sneer and tell us to get a new line, because they've already heard it. We say, YOU get a new line, we've heard yours hundreds of times...basically, you're con artists, and every passerby is a mark.

Get a job like all of us other poor schmucks and earn your existence on this planet. Work your way up like we have. By no means are we rich, we're poor, but we can make use of programs offered to the working poor and be productive members of society.

My then-boyfriend, from back in the day? He's still a bum. He "winters" in jail or in Florida, and then works the flea markets in the summer. He's the kinda guy who thinks the world owes him a posh existence, but who doesn't want to work in any way to make it happen. I feel no sympathy for bums. Homeless? Yeah, I'll buy them a meal, tell them where the resources are. Mainly because I can't stand the thought of a mom or little kid not eating enough or not feeling safe. Bums, forget it. I'm not wasting my spare change on buying their cigarettes and alcohol for them.

Make the shelter dry. Make people go through the programs, hell, make it a homeless boot camp where they have to clean up, get job skills and learn to play nice with others or they're...I don't know, used as training dummies for attack dogs. There's always going to be people who just want the handout, not the hand-up. That's the trick, figuring out what to do with THEM.

conserv26 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with many of the posts here...a bigger better homeless shelter is just going to bring more homeless and low-lifes to Lawrence. Before I get thrashed by a liberal here, I do understand that homeless shelters can provide much needed help for someone who is truly down on their luck and wants a better life. BUT SOME PEOPLE CHOOSE THE HOMELESS LIFESTYLE!!! Creating a homeless resort is not going to deter this behavior.

We need to make it a little less easy to be homeless and live off of the government. PEOPLE, GET A HAIRCUT AND GET A REAL JOB. We must stop the cycle...

conserv26 8 years, 11 months ago

LuckyNun you are dead on! I couldn't have said it better myself. I applaud you for finding a better life for yourself! Best of luck to you in your future.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

Lucky Us for having LuckyNun post poetically about her first-hand experience.

Tanya Spacek 8 years, 11 months ago

enforcer:

Once I made up my mind, I went to Travelers Aid and got two bus tickets back to where my bf's mom lived. I applied for housing assistance, WIC and food stamps for my newborn. I hit the temp agencies after my six weeks of post-partum work restriction and got a crappy factory job. After a year, I didn't need the food stamps. After two years, I was hired full-time and was able to get off WIC. Same thing when I came to Lawrence with nothing but a place to stay. Thanks to SRS, WIC and the JobSearch program, I was back on my feet in a mattter of a few months, with a job and childcare assistance, and money to go to school.

I admit, I made a LOT of crappy choices when I was younger. I grew up, though, and my life became exponentially more stable. Life skills classes would be good for some of these people who have a chance at turning it around, but keep screwing themselves over with poor decisions.

gbaker 8 years, 11 months ago

31st huh? I say put them in the swamp. Oh sorry I ment the old farm land that someone built a levee around and now it's called the wetlands.

voboril 8 years, 11 months ago

Let me remind you all again, "Henderson has been looking for a new location for the shelter - which is located at 944 Ky. - after complaints from neighbors and downtown merchants have grown. Several neighbors have complained of loitering and trespassing issues related to the shelter's occupants. " So you think that moving it across town, those complaints are going to quit?
With a combined family with 4 little children, we often are on the walking trail behind this building. If this shelter moves over there, WE WILL NEVER BE BACK! It's not going to take long before it is all taken over by the homeless. That is not somwhere my children will ever be allowed. Great thinking, lets get a place that holds 5 times more of these people. You think downtown is bad now? Wait until this shelter is overflowing. Makes me want to move!

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