Archive for Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Shelter’s mission worries residents

Salvation Army plan on Haskell Ave. may face new approval process

March 28, 2006


Beth Anne Mansur wants a guarantee.

She and other East Lawrence residents want to know for sure that a proposed Salvation Army homeless shelter near 19th Street and Haskell Avenue will truly rehabilitate the homeless rather than just providing them a place to hang out day after day.

"The Salvation Army has never put anything in writing for us to show what this really will be," Mansur said. "They are so vague."

City commissioners tonight will be asked to decide whether The Salvation Army project should be required to go through a new approval process that could put more specific restrictions on how the site could develop.

The $3.5 million project - planned for the west side of Haskell Avenue between Lynn and Homewood streets - originally received City Commission approval in 2004. But two years later construction hasn't yet begun on the project, and the center's site plan is set to expire in May.

Neighbors want the property to be rezoned from its current industrial zoning to a more neighborhood-friendly zoning category. If the rezoning takes place, the shelter project would have to receive a special use permit from the City Commission to move forward.

Salvation Army leaders strongly oppose that idea. Dick Zinn, an attorney and member of the Salvation Army's advisory board, said requiring a new City Commission vote on the project would wreak havoc with the organization's current fundraising drive.

"It would create a specter of uncertainty of whether the project is going to happen," Zinn said. "It would really be very harmful to our entire campaign."

Zinn wants the project to receive a new one-year site plan, which would give The Salvation Army time to complete its fundraising drive and begin construction in early 2007.

But neighbors said the new approval process was the only way they could be assured that The Salvation Army would follow through on plans to operate a shelter that focuses on serving families instead of being a traditional "soup kitchen" facility. Neighbors have said a traditional homeless shelter was not appropriate for their largely single-family neighborhood.

Salvation Army leaders have said they intended the new center to be significantly different from their current shelter at 10th and New Hampshire streets, which would close after the new center is completed. They've said it would have a larger focus on families and would not offer the traditional emergency shelter services.

But Zinn on Monday said the shelter had to stop short of saying that it would never offer certain services at the site because the organization's mission was to meet the needs of the community's needy.

"To make the commitment that there won't be a feeding program in 2025, we can't do that," Zinn said. "If there is no other way to feed hungry people, we can't say we won't address the need."

That talk concerns neighbors.

"It sounds nice that they will do what is needed, but it also kind of sounds like they have it up their sleeves that this is really what they want to do," said James Grauerholz, a resident of the neighborhood.

Zinn, though, said people who believed The Salvation Army was being disingenuous were not giving credit to how the organization has conducted itself since it began operations in Lawrence in 1886.

"Anybody who knows The Salvation Army knows that it would not ever say one thing and intend to do something else," Zinn said. "That's not who we are."

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


Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

Zinn, though, said people who believed The Salvation Army was being disingenuous were not giving credit to how the organization has conducted itself since it began operations in Lawrence in 1886.

It's not the history Mr. Zinn it could be coming from the board members. Each time a new Salvation Army director is introduced the story changes somewhat. Isn't it the board of directors who set policy? Isn't it the Board of Directors who decide what a business will be doing? Won't the SA director be looking to the BOD for direction.

While researching info on downtown shelters and soup kitchens, of which there are many, in such locations as Chapel Hill,Tulsa,Seattle,Dallas, Atlanta, Kansas City and Topeka I came across Downtown Ambassadors.

If the Salvation Army moves east there could easily be more homeless and hungry people moving about downtown for lack of a place to go. Jails are neither appropriate nor practical due to the cost of per day care.

The homeless population is growing nationwide which makes the increase in Lawrence not unique. Downtown soup kitchens across the country are experiencing higher volumes of traffic. If this continues Lawrence like any other city should expect more people in this unfortunate situation. This is where Downtown Ambassadors make their entry.

Downtown Ambassadors might work in Lawrence as a means to keep things moving along in a smooth kind of way. Please accept this invitation and view Downtown Ambassadors.

Nearly all the homeless centers in the 20 largest U.S. cities are downtown. Some cities offer 24 hour showers with a locker.

Any place else is too far from food, other sources of shelter and sometimes money sources. It might also require busing to get the homeless to the eastside location. Not only that should the (SA) Salvation Army decide to relocate it could intensify the situation at 10th and Kentucky. Where will those who cannot make the eastside trek shower and clean up a bit? Where will they sleep?

Business groups can play a positive role in helping to address the issue of homelessness. Instead of advocating for criminalization measures, business groups can put resources to solutions to homelessness, such as the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District's day center.

The federal government can also play a role in encouraging cities to pursue more constructive approaches to homelessness. Federal funding for homeless and poverty programs should be conditioned on local government agreement not to punish homeless persons for conduct related to their status.

geekin_topekan 12 years, 2 months ago

Can't rehabilitate and enable at the same time.The neighbors are very correct with those concerns.I've been laughing since the day this new location was announced. Unfortunately a great many of the homeless population in Lawrence has absolutely no desire to rehabilitate.They'd rather drink themselves into oblivion and risk death from exposure than sober up and go inside. Homelessness is a choice and a lifestyle in this country. Sobriety is a choice and a lifestyle.Unfortunately the neighborhood association and Aunt Sally can't make that choice for anyone. They want to stay homeless?Thats their business. Want to find a better way?Thats Sally's business.

xenophonschild 12 years, 2 months ago

ljreader has a point; in fact, quite a few good points. I don't know much about the homeless, but don't want Lawrence to become a magnet for such. Maybe our civic leaders could learn from other cities (Seattle?) about how to effectively manage our homeless problem so that both the homeless and homeowners/taxpayers are not shorted. We're supposed to have fairly well-trained, well-paid professionals running our city; let's see them deliver.

J Good Good 12 years, 2 months ago

The thing about east Lawrence and the homeless is that they are in our backyard and our front yard and our side yard. What we don't need is a destination at the other end of the neighborhood for them to make their way to THROUGH our neighborhoods. Don't give me "not in my backyard" until a few other neighborhoods are impacted like we are...

hammysammy 12 years, 2 months ago

LJReader-You really have a vendetta against Mexican people don't you? I challenge you to go downtown and find me one homeless person who is an illegal immigrant. Also, be pissed at the huge corporations who have built all their factories in other countries, and the giant farm owners who hire illegals because they can pay them less. Those people are just trying to have a better life. Studies have shown time and time again that the immigrants are in fact taking jobs Americans won't take, someone has to do it. Also, there are like 19 illegal immigrants benefitting from in-state tuition, the majority of which are at community colleges. Big freaking deal.

spikey_mcmarbles 12 years, 2 months ago

I vote to place the homeless in a work camp out near the Haskell Bottoms. The county can build barracks and provide food and shelter in exchange for manual labor. They can work on getting clean and sober (get DCCA involved), build up a work ethic, and return to society.

The homeless would be identified and approached by the sheriff and given a choice: relocate to the work camp, or move on. Those refusing to do either would be forceable removed from the county. Lawrence would become known as both a place where the homeless can get help getting a fresh start, AND be known as a place where hobos just looking for a place to flop are not welcome.

kansas_prairieland 12 years, 2 months ago

Hey, somebody here mentioned that the homeless are in all of our yards!

Well, that may be.....but as long as they don't urinate in my yard like I've seen a few of them do in some of my neighbors' yards....then I don't mind having homeless people living near me.

lonelyboy 12 years, 2 months ago

How about 6th and Wak. Can't build a Wal Mart let's place this Rehab Center on the west side of town. Lets see if the Compton group will help.

Confrontation 12 years, 2 months ago

Why don't we just let the Salvation Army occupy a storefront on Mass? Then, all those downtown shoppers can stare into the windows at the homeless, right before they buy a $100 pair of shoes?

Dani Davey 12 years, 2 months ago

The United States government is currently spending an average of $50 million dollars every day on the war in Iraq. $50 million. Do you know what we could do with $50 million? I guarantee you we wouldn't be having this conversation about homelessness.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

The current Salvation Army location is far more practical so far as caring for the homeless who choose to wander. What they paid for the large chunk of Lawrence/Douglas County property on Haskell would probaly have paid for additional space at 10th and New Hampshire. Not a frugal organization.

Some people in the 10th and Kentucky and East Lawrence areas are not happy with wandering homeless in their yards so is it any surprise other neighborhoods might have the same concerns? Where does anyone expect these people to pee and poop? Does anyone truly believe that closing down the 10th and New Hampshire location is going to solve the problem that all other downtowns experience?

Criminalization measures also raise constitutional questions and many of them violate the civil rights of homeless persons. Courts have found certain criminalization measures unconstitutional:

¢ For example, when a city passes a law that places too many restrictions on begging, free speech concerns are raised as courts have found begging to be protected speech under the First Amendment.

¢ When a city destroys homeless persons' belongings or conducts unreasonable searches or seizures of homeless persons, courts have found such actions violate the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

¢ Courts have found that a law that is applied to criminally punish a homeless person for necessary life activities in public, like sleeping, violates that person's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment if the person has nowhere else to perform the activity.

¢ Laws that do not give people sufficient notice of prohibited conduct or allow for arbitrary enforcement by law enforcement officials can be unconstitutionally vague. Courts have found loitering and vagrancy laws unconstitutionally vague.

In addition to violating U.S. law, criminalization measures can violate international human rights law. The United States has signed international human rights agreements, many of which prohibit actions that target homeless people living in public spaces.

Kelly Powell 12 years, 2 months ago

Lets try to help the actual homeless first.... those who have fallen through the cracks and the mentally ill...Let's stop lawrence being a way station for those that choose to be beggars and outside of society....and i agree 100% with the workfarm idea.

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

R_C, have you been to El Mezcal lately or seen many of the construction workers?

hammy, what studies show that? Don't spout off what you have no idea about. Mexico's number one source of income after exports......America. No not American companies building in Mexico but illegals sending money back home. You want to pay those 19 illegals' tuition, have at it. My taxes have more important things to fund, like cheaper oil and bigger guns (sarcasm.)

Confrontation 12 years, 2 months ago

Where is the proof that El Mezcal workers are illegal immigrants? Hey, bankboy119, take your own advice and "Don't spout off what you have no idea about."

Isaythis 12 years, 2 months ago

A homeless shelter in a residential area only means very bad things for our children and our homes at night.

Isaythis 12 years, 2 months ago

Why not put it close to Alvarmar so the rich can show them how to play golf

bearded_gnome 12 years, 2 months ago

completely opposed to this! more of the urban outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen trapsing (that's a great word, trapsing) between downtown and the new Salvartion army digs...that's just great for all the innocent people who try to own property and live their own lives responsibly in east lawrence in the tenderloin in between the new shelter and downtown!

merrill's comments above seem to imply he thinks its okay for the bums and bumettes to be "peeing and pooping" on anybody's own private property. boy, there's a great selling point for a home. merrill, you're full of it, you know, what is being deposited on private property!

bearded_gnome 12 years, 2 months ago

tweak that geek MD, you're right, pull them thar threads together!

and, concentrating this population in downtown has really helped downtown, hasn't it? think workhouse out in the country, maybe as above, out in the bottoms, a great idea!

geekin_topekan 12 years, 2 months ago

Even with the free bus,they won't use it.Maybe the few that are sober enough to get into the shelter but the rest will rather spend their nights downtown,panhandling and drinking and as long as people are willing to give-up their pocket change.(or an occasional 20 spot),they will be perfectly happy finding new,secret hiding spots to curl up for the night. As long as downtown visitors continue to hand out their to-go boxes of leftovers from dinner to the homeless,they will not go hungry. "homeless" goes hand in hand with "survival" and they will find a way.With the sally or without.A majority of the trouble makers/pee pee crowd never stay at the shelter anyway.It is just a place to meet and find other drunks.But they'd be perfectly happy doing that on the street corner.And they will once the shelter is moved. Mark this day on your calanders folks.This is the day that geek said "you think they're an eye-sore now?HA!".

SpeedRacer 12 years, 2 months ago

The city commissioners have passed the buck on this issue by telling the Salvation Army and the residents of the area to "work it out". In the meantime, the Salvation Army has filed a new site plan which gives them the upper hand in any negotiation. It is clear that their idea of Christian charity does not extend to the community as a whole.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago


I don't know where the street people pee and poop except what I read. If the SA moves all of its' services to the east side that will be one less place with restroom facilities for the street people...that was my point. I'm quite sure east Lawrence and the 10th and Kentucky areas are not happy with that activity. Barker and far east Lawrence people will not be any different.

If the SA moves more people will left wandering around downtown. It's about two or more miles to 19th and Bullene from the New Hampshire location.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

From: LJW May 18th, 1999

The relocation concept comes from Jeff Shmalberg, a partner in the group planning to build Downtown 2000, which calls for 53,000 square feet of retail, 45,500 square feet of offices, 24 loft-style apartments and a four-level, 575-space parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire. A new arts center would be built just north of the Salvation Army's vacant lot.

If the Salvation Army wants to move, Shmalberg has a 4-acre site under contract northwest of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue that could accommodate a new $3 million, 30,000-square-foot building with plenty of room for parking, an outdoor play area and space for future expansion into transitional-housing programs.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 2 months ago

thank you schmaltzburg! obviously, I know how much distance there is from downtown to 19th and haskell, and that area I'm now calling lawrence's tenderloin because it would be trapped between these two homeless attractions. which, certainly, means lots of them on foot through that area of town, and it ain't gonna improve life for residents for the tenderloin!

bearded_gnome 12 years, 2 months ago

name comes from an aflicted part of San francisco.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.