Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2007

Advocate wants funding for homeless issues on ballot

January 11, 2007

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A longtime advocate for increased services for the homeless wants to have a question on the April ballot asking voters to make funding the issue a top priority.

Steve Ozark, vice chairman of the Coalition on Homeless Concerns and the coordinator for the Interfaith Initiative, has asked city commissioners to give voters in the April city elections an opportunity to support additional funding for homeless and poverty-related programs.

"What I'm really asking is if we're going to take care of the working poor and the mentally ill and the homeless, or are we going to say it is really not worth the money?" Ozark asked. "I'm really trying to figure out the will of the city on this issue."

City commissioners have not acted on the request. Mayor Mike Amyx on Wednesday said he would place the issue on the city commission's agenda in the next couple months. Amyx, though, said he's not sure he could support the request. He said he thought the city commission instead should have a discussion about priorities.

"We have to start being honest with ourselves about our budgeting process," Amyx said. "We say over and over again that we have these big-ticket priority items, but the honesty part is us telling people what year we're going to be able to accomplish them."

Exact wording for a possible ballot question hasn't been developed by Ozark. An annual dollar amount also hasn't been developed, although the city-appointed Community Commission on Homelessness has unsuccessfully asked for as much as $900,000 a year in previous city budgets.

Ozark said he's grown frustrated that there has been significant talk about holding elections for other city priorities - such as a new $30 million library, a new recreation complex or additional sales taxes to support street improvements - but little talk of how to fund major social service plans that would help the homeless and the working poor of the city.

Amyx, though, said the city has made strides to try to address the homeless issues. The city, in its 2007 budget, has set aside more than $250,000 to distribute to the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the Salvation Army and the Lawrence Community Shelter to use for homeless programs, including the funding of four outreach workers.

Members of the Community Commission on Homelessness also said they weren't certain now was the right time to have an election on increasing city funding for homelessness and poverty.

The organization is working on preparing a report that would provide details on what a new homeless shelter in the community would look like and what services it would provide. Helen Hartnett, a member of the homelessness commission, said that information probably would be important for people to have before voting on any new funding.

Homeless issues

Steve Ozark, the vice chair of the Coalition on Homeless Concerns and the coordinator for the Interfaith Initiative, explains what issues he wants to have addressed. Enlarge video

"What we have to help the community understand is that the current facilities are not adequate, and any new facilities would be much different and produce different results," Hartnett said.

Shirley Martin-Smith, chairwoman of the Community Commission on Homelessness, said she understood the frustration of Ozark, who is a former member of the homelessness commission, but added that she thought the issue was still receiving adequate attention from city leaders.

"He and a lot of other people have worked hard to get the issue to the forefront, but I believe it is still at the forefront," she said.

County Clerk Jamie Shew said the City Commission can place an issue on the April ballot. He said Ozark also could try to get enough signatures on a valid petition to force the issue on the ballot, as long as the ballot question proposed a specific course of action.

Shew said state law would require signatures from 25 percent of registered voters in the city, which would mean a petition of nearly 15,000 signatures.


Town hall meeting

The Coalition on Homeless Concerns will host its third annual Town Hall meeting on Homelessness from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt. Steve Ozark, vice chairman of the volunteer group, said leaders of the various agencies serving the homeless have been invited to speak about accomplishments of the past year and concerns about the future. The event is open to the public.

Comments

bd 8 years, 5 months ago

Lets see 200 homeless, $900k = $4500 Just give them the cash! Give me some too!

topflight 8 years, 5 months ago

It is so funny how the hippies in Lawrence always think they are speaking on behalf of the majority. Well they are not, get a clue.

Porter 8 years, 5 months ago

It is so funny how all of the non-hippies know what it's like to be homeless. Well you are not, get a clue.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence is without a doubt the second most homeless friendly city I have ever been in.I don't care what the study said a few months back about it being the top ten most unfriendly. Wanna know how a bum decides what a friendly city is?How much change can you get in a few hours of panhandling.Thats all they care about when it comes to defining "friendly city". Food?Who cares,we'll find something. Jail?Been there,done that. Change?BlingBling!!Toontown is the place!! But,I have experienced some truly "unfriendly" homeless cities.Oh,they had every bit of elements that make Lawrence the great city it is.Minus the parades,music venues,events in the park,attractive shopping/entertainment district and arts center. It was a lot like Lawrence.College town,near a river,civil war history etc.Just no bums or any other personality.Just working people and students going about their daily lives.Never daring to offer a different point of view. Yuck.

doc1 8 years, 5 months ago

They already get free bus tickets, three full meals, shelter and handouts everywhere you go in this city. When will it stop? This is so obnoxiously crazy I don't understand. How much is too much. What a waste of tax dollars. There always comes a time when you have to say NO every once in a while.

Bud Stagg 8 years, 5 months ago

There are people who need help and there are bums. I don't vote to give my money to bums. I vote to give the people who need help the services they need. How do we screen them?

We don't want to make it any easier to be a bum.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

then why arent the churches downtown not letting homeless people sleep in them at night? There is a differance between being heartless and knowing that the throw money at it approach is causing thing to worsen not better....Personally i believe their are too many people and my "christian love" has been spread paper thin....less people, more love.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

Hey porter....A lot of people were homeless some point in their lives....the seperating factor is how long the majority of us decided we wanted to stay there.....And as one of the working poor, i can honestly say I do not need Mr. Ozarks' help.

Porter 8 years, 5 months ago

You're right, rednek. I just get tired of hearing people who know it all criticize others for knowing it all.

Yes, a lot of folks go through some tough times. However, most of us were blessed with talents, abilities, and at least some good fortune. Some are not, and I believe you can measure the health of a society by how well it cares for those that are not able to care for themselves. This pulling yourself up by your bootstraps works great when you don't have mental issues, acute alcoholism, etc. Some people need help at sometime in their lives.

Before I hear all the anecdotes - I know you have all run into a lazy, drunken, idiot on Mass St. sometime during your stay in Lawrence. What makes you think that's representative of the entire homeless population? I saw a fourth-grader step on a cat's head once. Should we stop paying for these little heathens to get an education?

doc1 8 years, 5 months ago

Dambudzo: The reason some don't have sympathy is that the ones needing the services are few. I agree those few do need help, but alot of people are put off by the homeless because we as the public are sick of being taken for a ride. This community puts out so much already and thats why we have more homeless coming here everyday. I've had more than one police officer tell me that they migrate here because the living is good. Thats coming from the homeless people themselves.

cavtrooper 8 years, 5 months ago

You know, after looking at the lead in photo that the JW used in this article I'm even less likely to support "homeless" issues. Every single one of those kids, and unless I'm very mistaken they are " 20-somethings", is capable of working some sort of job. Trick is... they don't want to. Why should they? They can panhandle for smoke, booze and drug money, get free health care, free food and get oodles of sympathy from people like Mr Ozark. I was out of the house at 16.. worked and stayed in school. Could I have ended up on the street? Yep, but I didn't and it had very little to do with free handouts, assistance or someone recognizing my "plight"... Now before you warm fuzzy types decend on me like a .. squawking pack of crows, don't get me wrong, I don't hate the homeless little bums, I just feel no empathy or sympathy for them. In many cases they have put themselves on this path and would rather wallow in it than take the effort (and it takes EFFORT) to change. Oops... that wasn't too PC. sorry.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 5 months ago

Let's donate the funding to giving congress another raise, since they do so much more for us.

samsnewplace 8 years, 5 months ago

bowhunter99 (7:45am) I agree with this statement totally and have been a big believer that charity starts at home. We have missionaries that are always traveling outside the U.S., what about inside the U.S. and how about starting in their own city first.

cavtrooper 8 years, 5 months ago

Hey consumer... You could always panhandle! "grin" ..or maybe Mr Ozark could help you with your "plight"

getserious 8 years, 5 months ago

You know how to stop the homeless problem? Simple, put the shelter in Far West Lawrence, right by J.B. Stouts for example. Or better yet, put it by Doug Compton's house. Then see how fast the "caring" liberals of Lawrence address the problem. Agreed, there is a difference between a "bum" and someone down on their luck. I help those that want help.

Shelby 8 years, 5 months ago

seriously, wouldn't these liberal Boog Schauner Rundle types be ALL FOR putting it to the upper crust of Lawrence? I think it could really light a fire under the "difference-makers" of Lawrence to do something about it. Couldn't they pull some strings and circumnavigate putting such a plan to a public vote?

avoice 8 years, 5 months ago

How about forgetting why the "bum" may be asking you for help. Instead, ask yourself how YOU feel about helping a fellow human being. In the end, it's YOUR intent, not the other person's that counts for or against YOU. So I put change in every Salvation Army bucket and give a few dollars from my pocket to people holding up signs by Wal-Mart. I don't wonder in my mind what they're going to do with that money. I give with the intent to help. That's what counts.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 5 months ago

That photo on the front page upsets me. I was once an avid photographer. Being cash-poor and on the verge of hunger (real hunger), I sold my Nikon to a pawn shop. I never got it back. That's how I remained independent from "the dole", by selling my possessions to put food on the table. So, why do these men have nice guitars? My reaction to the photo is that these guys are homeless because of THEIR choices. No, selling that guitar will not get them into an apartment, but selling that guitar would be a step toward being able to say "I'm doing all I can to live without begging off of women and children on a public street".

These men have become too USE TO being on the street and too USE TO having others do for them.

When you've sold off your prized possessions , then you are at the end of your rope. These guys are NOT QUITE destitute, not as long has they walk up and down the streets carrying $400 musical instruments. A MAN would never beg off strangers while being in possession of something so valuable.

common_cents 8 years, 5 months ago

In response to the following portion of a post:

"However, most of us were blessed with talents, abilities, and at least some good fortune."

I find it interesting how people often take the results of another person's hard work and dedication and label it with the terms, "blessed" or "good fortune."

Call a duck a duck. Most people who have a good life did so through hard work and dedication. Maybe there was something they enjoyed doing and they started a business or developed a career in that field.

But stop acting like people who make it in this world are somehow luckier that the next person.

Bobo Fleming 8 years, 5 months ago

I aways wondered why one would be homeless in Kansas. If you are homeless why not Miami or Santa Barbara? In Santa Monica they hand out Dunkin Donuts at the shop near the pier. I always thought I would be homeless there.

feeble 8 years, 5 months ago

I'd agree to increased budget for the homeless if it is tied to an aggressive anti-panhandling bill.

Set up drop boxes around the city, have the funds distrubted by city to the local Not-for-profits and homeless advocay groups or use them to pay for services, so the option to "give" is still there.

50YearResident 8 years, 5 months ago

What ever happened to the "Vagrant Laws"? Shouldn't these people be required to move on or to show a means of supporting themselves? I was recently shopping downtown and on the corner of 9th & Mass St. The heart of Downtown, and right in front of Weavers was a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk at 11 A.M. Everyone walked by leaving this person undisturbed for at least two hours. This is not the way Lawrence should be seen by out of town shoppers we are trying to attract to downtown.

Get these people off the street. "REGAIN THE DIGNITY OF THE CITY". Giving them $900,000 per year is only compounding the problems we are now having.

I "Vote No" to more funding.

EXks 8 years, 5 months ago

Instead of using our tax dollars to bomb and kill foreigners, wouldn't it be nice if we used them to take care of ourselves, including our destitute?

Thanks for the post logrithmic

Just curious how many whiners on this site would feel if I wanted MY TAX DOLLARS to stopy funding their social security checks!!!!

Funny too, how suddenly their 'Christian' values disappear when it comes to feeding and clothing others less fortunate.

homegrownhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Call me naive, but I truly believe there are very few reasons why people would "choose" to be homeless:

1) Mental illness 2) Drug dependency/abuse 3) Lack of options 4) An inability to adhere to rules in exchange for shelter

It's well known that many panhandlers are not necessarily homeless. The only panhandlers I give money to (I now live in a large city) are the elderly and the visibly disabled. Even though I know that I should adhere to "judge not lest ye be judged," I can't condone giving money to an able-bodied young person. Congress finally approved raising the minimum wage. Good. Let's give the hardest working people a better chance to make it.

hipper_than_hip 8 years, 5 months ago

"Instead of using our tax dollars to bomb and kill foreigners, wouldn't it be nice if we used them to take care of ourselves, including our destitute?"

We should drop some of the stinky homeless people on the Islamists; they'd sue for peace in a heartbeat.

deec 8 years, 5 months ago

SSDI applications are routinely turned down. Even when approved, its around 5-600 month. Hardly enough to afford rent and utilities. Unless you get section 8 or public housing. There's usually a waiting list for those.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

I believe the homeless are a very important part of lawrence. I think we are talking about having them on our city council.

Ragingbear 8 years, 5 months ago

The major problem is not funding. What our big problem is that we keep treating the symptoms instead of treating the actual problems. Yeah, there are some programs that have really helped people. But for every HOPE building, there are 5 Drop-In Centers (Or whatever they are calling it this week). For every legitimate homeless person that is fighting tooth and nail every day to get off the streets and rebuild their life, there are 4 of your so-called "hippies" that use being homeless here as a way to live off of others.

Every so often, somebody will come up with a concept to reintroduce a little concept called "Personal Responsibility" into the homeless population, only to have all the other groups whine and scream until the concept is destroyed, or services are increased at other locations to the point where the program that gives you more "rewards" based on how much you do yourself are moot. After all,you could get a lunch for free only after attending an hourlong class at the Salvation Army, and find that it is ham and cheese sandwiches. Or just go to the Community Shelter, or LINK and get much more for free.

Our Commission is actually the root of the problem. In their neverending quarrel to make themselves look good while at the same time not actually doing anything, they have let the so-called "Service Providers" take over and tell the city what to do. Only problem is, that almost every service provider is in it for the honor and glory of one type or another. Either that, or think that somehow that rehabilitating the homeless is a business venture that should make you money.

Ragingbear 8 years, 5 months ago

On the same note, there is my story. I was on the streets for about 16 months. I lived at the Salvation Army, and I ate at LINK. I fought to never let myself become complacent in my homelessness. I applied for disability, got denied, appealed, got denied again. Then I finally got myself an apartment, but still nothing to live on. Welfare cut back on my benefits once I got a place (Yes. You get more cash benefits for being homeless than being in a 1 room apt.) Over a year later, I discovered that I was finally in the hearing process for my disability (Where over 90% of those that qualify for disability are actually awarded it.) By the time that I got my first monthly check, it had been 3 years since the day I ended up on the streets. The only reason only half of that was on the streets were because of the programs that so many people take advantage of. I used these programs by tapping them at the right time to get food, supplies, dishes, appliances and other things required for living in a single person dwelling. If I were a day late, then I got nothing, as the others that didn't need it would descend on those programs like a frenzy of rabid sharks.

I fought for 16 months just to get off the street. I didn't have the added issue of drug/alchohol addiction, just the mental issue. Why did it take me so long to get off the streets? Because people like myself are rare, and hard to sift out of all those that just want a free hand out.

If we want to end the homeless issue, then a rather iron handed approach is needed. As well as making it so that the legit users of the programs get what they need, while those that just use it for living instead of working can be told to go elsewhere for their free handout.

ilovelucy 8 years, 5 months ago

I wish more people would take the initiative like you did. Congrats-

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

there is a certain irony in somebody throwing out the "judge not" line....After all did you not make a judgement on whether or not i have judged? Or once again it is somebody throwing up their holy book because they have no valid opinion of their own? with a moniker "laughingatallofyou",seems like you are doing plenty of judging.

Ragingbear 8 years, 5 months ago

A few simple stats for everyone...

Time it takes from application to recieving benefits of section 8 public housing assistance- 1yr -15 months.

Time it takes from first application for SSI/SSDI to approval and first check.- 2 1/2-3 1/2 years.

Amount of money that somebody waiting for SSI/SSDI gets from public assistance... 217$ a month in cash, as well as 99$ a month in food stamps.

After recieving Section 8, the typical "rent" that you must pay- 25$-$30, not including required utilities like electricity,gas, water and possibly even trash. If you fail to keep these all on, then you lose your Section 8 Coverage.

After Section 8, your share of the rent-$30, give or take.

Electricity Avg- $35mo

Gas Avg- 30$ mo.

Water- I do not know, I got that one covered by landlord.

Trash- Same as Water.

Laundry-15$-20$ a month

Other expenses(appliances, clothing, govt fees, other expenses,) $40 a month.

Medical (travel, appointments,prescriptions):

Doctor Visit: (3-5 appts per month) $3 a visit- 10-15$ a month.

Prescriptions: 3$ a piece, with an average of 5 a month= 15$ a month.

Half Price Bus Pass: $9.00 a month

Total: $194 out of $217 under tight budgeting. Hopefully you don't smoke. Nor is there any way to realistically get drunk, or get illegal drugs with the remaining $23 dollars. In most cases, the homeless have had a brush or two with the law, so they got probation/parole fees our other legal cost.

It's possible, but HARD. Looking at this, it is not suprising that so many that get welfare remain on the street.

Ragingbear 8 years, 5 months ago

Disability isn't any better. With the biggest yearly cost of living increase on record, we are "making" $535 dollars. Of course, rent increases since it's based on income. So that is about $170 a month, all other bills remain about the same. This makes a monthly bill about $335-340 a month. This leaves you with about $200-$250 that is not specifically allocated under the strictest budgets. Oh... I nearly forgot. That 99$ a month in food stamps? Well, I am making too much money for that now. I only get $10 a month now. So that leaves me $100-$160 a month just to replace an amount that is actually too little to provide a single person with the proper 3 meals a day of non-junk food. Typically, it cost another $50-60 dollars a month to supplement it.

Either that, or go to LINK, and get knives pulled on you for no longer being homeless and using a "homeless service". Don't forget phone bills(Yeah, during all this time, no phone. Good luck getting all your work done with people listening in on you when using a phone at the Shelter).

By no means is this an easy life. But at least it is not in a shelter. Of course, collecting disability when you still have 2 arms and 2 legs because your brain is so messed up that you are barely able to function means that you are just "too lazy to work" to a vast majority of people.

The entire system is not only fundamentally flawed, but designed in many ways to keep the extremely poor down. You would not believe the penalties I would face if I tried to even work 10 hours a week. The penalties would outweigh my earned income by $50 a week. And none of that is including the additional cost naturally associated with working. So it's little wonder that those with a substance problem, or a more severe mental problem give up on life, and just leech off the system until the day they die of exposure in a gazebo, or get hit by a train, or mugged, or raped, or killed because some other transient "didn't like your face" or the cops arrest you because "your homeless, so we will find something to charge you with".

And yes. I have offered everyone from individual homeless people to actual service care providers to host a "class" on how to climb through the system, and jump through the numerous hoops and press the right buttons to do all of this. The response? Denied by everyone.

I used to be a person actively involved in trying to help the homeless community. But after getting turned down too many times to count, and assualted on a number of occassions, I gave up and returned to try to make something of what remains of my life.

homegrownhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

What if the photo accompanying this story had been of a mentally ill homeless person in Lawrence who couldn't help themselves? What if it had been of a homeless elderly woman witih nowhere else to go?

The J-W NEVER does anything by accident. There's a statement being made here for sure...

EXks 8 years, 5 months ago

Uhh EXks, in order to get SS checks one must work and pay into that system....posted by Smitty


FYI.....I've been WORKING and PAYING into the "system" for 30 years now, thank you very much! I'm grateful that I have a job that pays an above average income, my tax rate is 45%!

Homegrownhawk summed it neatly in his/her post in that the issue of homelessness encompasses other issues:

1) Mental illness 2) Drug dependency/abuse 3) Lack of options 4) An inability to adhere to rules in exchange for shelter

True, there are exceptions.......but this problem is not unique to Lawrence alone, but rather, it is national.

If an unforseen event happend and you became disabled, unable to work, how many of you would be one or two paychecks from being homeless yourselves?

Tom McCune 8 years, 5 months ago

In traditional lingo, a hobo is a traveler who will work if it is available. A tramp will travel but not work. A bum will neither travel nor work.

Good people who have temporary problems should be given help to get back on their feet.

Schizophrenics (who truly cannot control their own situation) should be in residential mental hospitals run by the state.

Hobos and tramps should be encouraged to travel to somewhere else.

Bums should be given the bum's rush.

BJ 8 years, 5 months ago

Ragingbear, thank you for your post.

The city in all of its wisdom needs to stop throwing money at this problem, and really start looking at it. Major Amyx promised the city last year that by the same time next year (right about now) the city commission would have finally done something about this problem.

Nothing has been done. Henderson and his troops have outlawed booze on the premises (I was shocked to learn that booze was even allowed up until that time) and held some meetings (or maybe it was the Coalition on Homelessness aka "We Rubber-Stamp Everything Henderson Proposes) at times that the rest of us work to support him and his "guests". In the meantime the cops find someone in the Shelter with warrants from here to Tokyo, while Henderson promised to start looking into back-ground-checks a year ago. This is our LAWRENCE. This is happening on our DOWNTOWN streets that we spend so much money on to have people shop downtown. NOBODY is going to shop downtown if you have to step over bodies and get bothered 3 times each block for money or cigarettes.

Nothing has changed. There is still a small minority that really needs help and that the city (us) should care for. The rest needs to be cut off and sent home, wherever that is (and nor do I care). Stop enabling drunks, lazy folks, and everyone else mentioned in previous posts except for that small group that really needs help. Close the Drunk Tank, open up a small psychiatric unit away from downtown but on a bus route, and help the people that need us. The rest will leave just as quickly as they came (and that was quick).

For once, open your eyes and look around you. Lawrence is going to hell if we keep doing what we're doing.

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

Put down the guitar and go look for a job.

lawrencechick 8 years, 5 months ago

That picture is hysterical! Get your twenty-something butt up and get a job or move on to another city. This is terrible that we're wasting money on these people when there are so many old people in poor health who have no help.

BS20 8 years, 5 months ago

pawn the guitar so you can afford a suit to apply for a job.

StirrrThePot 8 years, 5 months ago

It was mentioned here that mental illness can lead people to be homeless. It seems to me that given the current state of treating people with mental illness in Lawrence and the state of Kansas, we should be giving first priority to those folks rather than the general homeless population. This would give a lending hand to those who need it, and in turn help homeless folks who suffer from mental illness. To me, the state of mental illness treatment is far more serious. I'd rather see money go towards clinics dedicated to help these people than to blow it on our Martin guitar players who perform a stone's throw from a pawn shop.

Furthermore, I don't know who on Mass St is homeless and who is not. I tend to walk on by the panhandlers and instead give donations to the shelters who help support folks in need. It is then thier choice to utilize these resources. If they choose not to, so be it, but I have already done my part.

BJ 8 years, 5 months ago

StirrThePot wrote: "instead give donations to the shelters who help support folks in need"

Unfortunately some shelters decide to exactly give their money to the not-so-homeless-people you encounter on Mass. Please see many previous posts.

StirrrThePot 8 years, 5 months ago

BJ: "Unfortunately some shelters decide to exactly give their money to the not-so-homeless-people you encounter on Mass. Please see many previous posts."


Who said the donations always have to be financial? I give clothing, food items, etc. or whatever specific items the organization may request.

homegrownhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

stirrthepot makes a very great point that donations don't have to always be monetary. Donating non-perishables to food banks and clothing or other items to those in need of them is great. If only everyone did.

(P.S. I had a friend who volunteered at the food bank, and she said the items people always asked for that they wished they always had more of were pasta and tomato sauce.)

Ragingbear 8 years, 5 months ago

On the issue of mental health, there is another issue. All things run through Bert Nash. In fact, I discovered that if you want to open a private practice here, that you have to be reviewed and approved by the Bert Nash board.

If you go to the SRS office and request to get benefits because you are disabled, they require a few things. 1. Proof that you have applied for disability. 2. A doctor's statement claiming that there is enough evidence to warrant a probable outcome of approved with Social Security. However, in the state of mental health, you are required to meet with a qualified psychiatrist at Bert Nash.

To get an appointment such as this can actually take 3-6 months due to how overloaded they are. And no, I am not exxaggerating those numbers. SRS gives you a coupon of sorts to cover the cost of the visit, but that does not make it any quicker. During the meantime, you have no money, and no medical coverage. Not to mention that the coupon expires within 2 weeks of you getting it.

Many people look at it, and consider it a lost cause. To get any respectable treatment at Bert Nash is difficult to say the least. There is at least one person there that I believe has absolutely no business practicing medicine.

What I am saying is that the process is difficult. To one that is mentally ill, it is harder, as they tend to give up at the first sign of the headache to come. Others are so out of touch with reality that they rarely even get so far as to apply for assistance. We can't force them into hospitals, that would be unconstitutional unless they have been proven to be an immediate threat to themselves or others, and must be released as soon as it is determined that they are no longer a threat. Although they are far from having proper treatment.

As to the guitar. You can get a fair guitar at a pawn shop rather cheap anymore. At least those that are playing a guituar with the case open for money are providing a form or service instead of just asking, or demanding a raw handout. I actually like the street performers, they add a definite atmosphere to downtown. Just not the panhandlers.

EXks 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for your posts Ragingbear and thanks for enlightening those out there who think there's an unlimited pot of gold, free & unlimited services, and free healthcare, etc. for the homeless and poor. Obviously you speak from experience and you know how dysfunctional and overburdened the 'system' really is.

I wish 99% of the posters on this site could experience first hand what you so eloquently described.

Mari Aubuchon 8 years, 5 months ago

A couple of other root causes for homelessness that I don't believe have been mentioned:

For women, dissolution of domestic partnerships/marriages, particularly those involving violence is a major factor. Homelessness further increases the chances of being the victim of a violent crime.

For men, release from prison is one of the main reasons. Homelessness greatly increases the chance of reincarceration.

heysoos 8 years, 5 months ago

What harm does it do to have it on the ballot? If the people behind the initiative are in the minority, the measure will fail. If not, it will pass.

I fear that perhaps those advocating against this idea are afraid that they would lose if this went to a vote.

pastor 8 years, 5 months ago

I've never posted on an LJW article before. But, this one is near my heart. So, here it goes. My hope is that this is buried so far down here that it won't matter anyway.

Most of you quit reading at "pastor" - or worse yet you read what you want, not what I will actually say. Let me clarify what I mean by "pastor". I was so embarrassed and frustrated with "the church" that I decided to do something about it. I became an active change-agent within it. I became a pastor to remind the church that acting like Jesus is what it's all about. It's not about the buildings and the programs and the money and the power.

I just want to be a shameless do-gooder in Lawrence. And, I want to hang-out with others who act the same way. I am not suggesting that we give everyone what they ask for. Rather, I'm suggesting we build relationships with those in need to find out what they REALLY need. Then, find out who has that resource in the community and provide it to the one in need.

The issue in Lawrence is not lack of resource. There are over 20 agencies that DIRECTLY work with and for the homeless/transient community.

The issue is this: coordination between those who have and those who need; the subsequent provision for the need, with a continuation of the relationships necessary to help with additional needs. Basically, most people know this; unfortunately, they get mired in defining how this has to happen.

Some wise people helped me see a way around that. Rather than getting caught in the mire, I decided to go talk to the homeless and transient. I have been doing it for awhile now. Several other shameless do-gooders are out there with me. We are doing our best to find the real needs - one person at a time - and get the resources from the community into the hands of the needy . No committee meetings, no need for commissions, no need for the city to pay for it.

You may see us around. We are on Larryville.com and Lawrence freecycle trying to find those resources. We are at the agencies with the resources. We are downtown giving out sandwiches, coffee and cocoa every Saturday night to those in need. During the week we touch base with those in need and work hard to find the right resource in the community.

That's it. That how I am choosing to be part of the solution. I know there are gaps here. But, it isn't my dissertation. It is a post on a contentious blog. If you are interested in being a shameless do-gooder meet us downtown. We're known as the Saturday night bread and coffee people. Most of those in the transient community know us.

Peace, Sean

beatrice 8 years, 5 months ago

"This is so obnoxiously crazy I don't understand. How much is too much. What a waste of tax dollars. There always comes a time when you have to say NO every once in a while."

"There is a differance between being heartless and knowing that the throw money at it approach is causing thing to worsen not better."

I absolutely agree!

Um, we are still talking about the war in Iraq, correct?

Seriously, I would think most people here would be in favor of this plan -- to put the request for more money for the homeless on the ballot. Isn't that much better than the council just approving a request for more funds? I suspect it would fail by a landslide, especially if they continue to use the able-bodied guitar playing 20 year old as the poster child for the homeless, rather than a 60 year old former Vietnam vet.

Bone777 8 years, 5 months ago

If they get a little better at strumming those guitars, they won't need any funding.

I say give them a "Box Car Willy" CD, and some guitar lessons.

Everyone needs someone to look up to.

Duffman 8 years, 5 months ago

I HAVE THE SOLUTION!!!!!!!!!

STOP GIVING THEM MONEY AND IF YOU SEE SOMEONE GIVING A BUM MONEY EXPLAIN TO THEM JUST HOW DAM LUDICROUS THEIR ACT IS.

I took a walk with my wife, a few nights ago, and she said "I would be scared to walk down here alone" because there were so many "homeless" 20 somethings.

I tell ya father I have my own idea how to solve this problem. If I had the time I would do my best to stop everyone from giving a bum ANY money. Lawrence provides food and shelter so if you give them money.... WHAT IS IT FOR? Looks like nice clothes and a sweet ax.

My whole life has been a struggle but I fought through and now I have a decent home, wife, life and JOB.

America is ripe for the picking and if you want it.... it is there for you to take..... just like you sorry saps giving those lazy sob..... your hard earned money.

First time poster ............long time reader!

Tom McCune 8 years, 5 months ago

Economics 101 = If you want more of something, subsidize it.

More money for homelessness = more homeless people in Lawrence.

justthefacts 8 years, 5 months ago

It is impossible to sucussfully legislate charity. Attempts to do so have almost always ended up hurting more people then get helped. While most people (especially in the mid-west American states) want to help out the downtrodden, the social experiments that fund permanent victim status have all failed.

If an individual wants to help out, let them do so. I often offer such folks (a) free food - walking over to a restaurant and paying $ for all the food said "begger" can eat. Some who are truly hungry are very happy to be fed. MANY only want money...So they can what, go drink, drug, or add to their savings??? and (b) my assistance in contacting any number of the already existing agencies that can help with various issues they say they are having (e.g. You are a homeless vet? I know several agencies/people set up to help just such folks! Here, let's call them!"). I have yet to have anyone take me up on this offer.

Enough if enough Lawrence city commissioners. If you want to give all your money away, please feel free to do so. Stop giving away everyone else's money to things YOU consider worthwhile!

mommy3 8 years, 5 months ago

Ok, WOW...what a uproar!! First of all, I don't agree with anyone trying to feed off someone else, but in todays society, your either rich or your poor. The middle man is fading away. It's easy to say.."Get a job." well, if you have a bad work history, you can't find a good job. Then you run the risk of losing your insurance from the state, and you won't qualify for low income housing because "you make too much." The line that they have drawn for low income single people or even families is crazy. You are almost waisting your time working for min. wage if you have to pay full rent, full utilities, and health care. I know a 54 year old women, who after her husband died had to work. She looked forever and finally got a partime job making $6.50 hr, what can you pay with that income? She would be better of living off the system.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Too bad Hitler had to give a "final solution" to the homeless problem such a bad name.

But look at it this way, all those homeless people allow you heartless jerks someone to look down on, so you can puff yourselves up that much more.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

Cavtrooper wrote: "You know, after looking at the lead in photo that the JW used in this article I'm even less likely to support "homeless" issues. Every single one of those kids, and unless I'm very mistaken they are " 20-somethings", is capable of working some sort of job. Trick is... they don't want to. Why should they? They can panhandle for smoke, booze and drug money, get free health care, free food and get oodles of sympathy from people like Mr Ozark. I was out of the house at 16.. worked and stayed in school. Could I have ended up on the street? Yep, but I didn't and it had very little to do with free handouts, assistance or someone recognizing my "plight"... Now before you warm fuzzy types decend on me like a .. squawking pack of crows, don't get me wrong, I don't hate the homeless little bums, I just feel no empathy or sympathy for them. In many cases they have put themselves on this path and would rather wallow in it than take the effort (and it takes EFFORT) to change. Oops... that wasn't too PC. sorry."

good post Cav. here's some more poster children for the homeless effort in Lawrence: Louie Galloway and "the hole in the head gang." often supported by homeless charities who don't expect them to better themselves.

Raging was really right on RE bettering yourself! a substantial number of the Lawrence homeless have made a "lifestyle choice."

also, Raging was quite correct about mental health issues for some homeless. it is nearly impossible for homeless with real mental health problems to get diagnosed, treated, stabilized. .

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo shut the hell up.....you obviously are a armchair activist who will never break a real sweat to get anything done....and without us "heartless jerks", who would you have to puff up at? without us you would be nibbling on the end of a gun barrel within a year....correction, a wuss like you would use pills.

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

If you all feel like doing religious charitable work, fine then do it. I expect Bozo to be at the head of the line with he largest check. But lets be honest, that is NEVER what it is about is it? Nope its about FORCING everyone else pay you to do the religious do-gooders "charitable" work.

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man; a debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G, Gordon Liddy (yes, that G. Gordon Liddy)!

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

We have been fighting the "War on Poverty" for decades now.

So, who is going to apologize for our failure to win? Shouldn't we have a blue ribbon panel to decide how we should deploy our forces? And most importantly, WHAT IS OUR EXIT STRATEGY FOR THE WAR ON POVERTY?

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

As long as poverty is defined as people whose income is in the bottom 10% of the population, the war on poverty will never end.

I would re-define the top level of poverty as having money for a simple abode, and just enough money to eat, and being able to afford clothes from Penn House, but not enough for cable, tv, cell phone, internet, car, booze, drugs, vacations, evenings out, movies.

The above describes me when my kids were young. And, yet, I did not think of us as poor. Go figure.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

as my post, above, also illustrates, many homeless choose that lifestyle, displaying criminality and irresponsibility. yes, some are really in need of mental health help. yes, some, probably a small portion, are temporary homeless and not homeless by their own choices and deserve help out.

increase services here, more will come, meaning more irresponsible, more crime, more drugs, more drunken, more publicly lewd, more committing property crimes (i.e. arson), more committing violent crimes (i.e. shooting a witness in a current court case). is that what we want?

Charles L Bloss Jr 8 years, 5 months ago

Why not let the liberals in Lawrence adopt a homeless person to live with them. That way they could feed, clothe and provide free medical care to help the homeless person. They probably have a spare bedroom, or they could rearrange things to accomodate at least one homeless person. For the really devoted liberals, they could adopt a whole homeless family to live with them. They could feed, clothe, provide medical care for the family and would have such a warm cozy feeling inside. Until, of course, when they come home and find their adopted homeless family gone, and their home stripped of any of their possessions that could be pawned. Then they might wish to re-evaluate their position. After all, a liberal is a conservative that hasn't been screwed with. Thank you, Lynn

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

If we supply housing facilities like the salvation army for people to stay if they follow the rules, wouldnt the problem me more one of unemployment or people not wanting to work??? If min. wage is raised, people could work at fast food places and be able to afford an apartment. Oh wait, you cant rent an appartment if you only make min. wage

laughingatallofu 8 years, 5 months ago

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Sound familiar?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Why not let the liberals in Lawrence adopt a homeless person to live with them."

How many of them would be relatives of yours?

laughingatallofu 8 years, 5 months ago

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Sound familiar?

laughingatallofu 8 years, 5 months ago

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Sound familiar?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Why not let the liberals in Lawrence adopt a homeless person to live with them."

Could we just kill them and feed them to the dogs instead? I mean, we know that you just want them to disappear, so does it really matter how they disappear?

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

I make one little comment and I get all this??

laughingatallofu 8 years, 5 months ago

Why not let the liberals in Lawrence adopt a homeless person to live with them. That way they could feed, clothe and provide free medical care to help the homeless person. They probably have a spare bedroom, or they could rearrange things to accomodate at least one homeless person. For the really devoted liberals, they could adopt a whole homeless family to live with them. They could feed, clothe, provide medical care for the family and would have such a warm cozy feeling inside. Until, of course, when they come home and find their adopted homeless family gone, and their home stripped of any of their possessions that could be pawned. Then they might wish to re-evaluate their position. After all, a liberal is a conservative that hasn't been screwed with. Thank you, Lynn <<<

So tell me, Lynn, are you a conservative that HAS been screwed with?

Tell us your story Lynn; we're dying to hear about it. Murine excretory orifice.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

Arent we all against homelesness? do we need an advocacy against it? We all know the causes and solutions

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

So here is the question. If a person can stay at the salvation army, free of charge so long as they follow the rules (no drinking, drugs, fighting, etc) and they choose not to look for a job. Is the problem homelessness or is it lack of interest in work and acceptable life style?

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

laughing: if you give me help, knowing that that help will only get me more self distruction, i.e. more drink, more drugs. then, are you really helping when you make me comfortable in my self distructive lifestyle? or, are you helping me down the distruction way with your "help?"

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

Bearded, You have a point

(LAUGHING LOUDLY)

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

by the way bearded, I always have fun around here, and nothing ever upsets me, I enjoy having fun and saying off the wall things. I hope I never sound to serious, most of the bones in my body are far from serious. Good to see you here tonight

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

Bud, I don't think you have any trouble being perceived as "too serious!"
nice to see you too, and I do appreciate your tilted humor.

kcwarpony 8 years, 5 months ago

Ragingbear, Thanks for sharing your story. It's a real eye-opener. Too bad the ones who could benefit the most from it don't want to hear it.

conserv26 8 years, 5 months ago

Maybe we shouldn't make Lawrence so "homeless friendly" heh? Maybe they should all spend less time loitering on Mass on find a gosh darn job!!! Wake up hippies! I feel sorry for the mentally ill homeless but think about how many able-minded bums you see on any given day in this town, it's ridiculous! Gee, let's make them even less self-sufficient, great idea!

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

A one inch mat...Oh my the poor waifs....they probably do not get served cafe latte in bed with a mimosa and an eclair either......SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! As for what I would do if a family member was homeless...hmmm...probably would do exactly what was done with me....namely, help them until they prove themselves unhelpable......then kick them to the curb until they got their act together. it took me a couple of years to get on my feet (very wobbly, but on my feet nonetheless)....and i managed it without pan handling and very minimal trips to link....it took longer to regain their respect...but i never lost their love. i would vote for more funds if they were proposing a work farm(have discussed this before) or some other way for people to help them selves up with some pride and a smidgen of dignity....but if it is just to let them ride in more relative comfort, screw em.

Deb Engstrom 8 years, 5 months ago

When my son got out of drug and alcohol treatment and was homeless, jobless, penniless, and discouraged, he went to the Topeka Rescue Mission. Much better services (more consolidated) and more opportunities for jobs. The way the homeless services are delivered piecemeal in Lawrence is terrible. One of the guests at LINK used to describe the "10th Street Shuffle". Rather than negotiate the maze, people give up. Maybe more money is not the answer, but certainly a way to centralize and coordinate all of the services might eliminate a lot of the problems.

kansasrose 8 years, 5 months ago

I recently toured the Lawrence Open Shelter. Believe me, it's not the Ritz Carlton. It's cold, dirty, dark, and crowded. The people that run this, do the best that they can, with the funds that they have. A 'bed' consists of a one-inch mat and a spot on the floor. Believe me, this is not a place you want to stay long-term. The people that I met didn't seem the least bit interested in staying. Mental illness, addiction, abuse, self-neglect all contribute. No one said, 'I don't think I'm going to work anymore, because, heck, this is so much easier!'

Just a question for any of you out there who bash the homeless: what if this was your uncle, aunt, brother, sister? Would you want them sleeping, if they are 'lucky', on a cold floor? Each one of these people is someone's mom, dad, brother, sister. It would help alot, if these folks could get the help they need. But, this isn't a quick fix. This is about persistent mental illness, some people going years without being treated, etc. Handing them a broom and telling them to work, isin't going to fix the problem. But, stepping over them, on your way to Weavers or The Eldridge, isn't going to help, either.

Mr. Ozark is trying to recruit members of a great community to step up to the plate, and help. But, it doesn't seem that Lawrence is all that interested. After touring the Shelter, I'll never forget it. I, for one, couldn't live with myself if I didn't do something to help those less fortunate.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

"Just a question for any of you out there who bash the homeless: what if this was your uncle, aunt, brother, sister? "

As I have in the past, I would provide for them.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

Drug addiction is not a mental illness; it is the result of a very stupid choice.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

There you go Godot, the same thing I was thinking. In fact, I dont think I have any family members who would think they had to be homeless. Families must provide for each other.

Now then, this doesnt stop the people that run off to other cities and then say, "I dont have any family"

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

currently, services in lawrence are attracting and maintaining people like "the hole in the head gang." not what we want, certainly no more money for such.

kansasrose 8 years, 5 months ago

I agree with deb, and, I actually DO agree with redneck. I don't believe anyone should get a free ride, but, let me put it another way, the current manner in which homeless folks in Lawrence are treated, managed, whatever you wanna call it, stinks. The Topeka Rescue Mission, is run, from what I understand, on 100% donations. DONATIONS. And, they don't provide hand outs, but, a hand up. They have programs to help people get back on their feet. And, Redneck, I agree with you. And, I suppose there are folks that aren't interested in putting alot of effort into improving themselves.

The mentally ill in Lawrence might as well just get on the bus to Topeka. My late husband died by suicide, and, I'll never know if had he had the option at the time of checking himself into LMH's then mental health unit, he just might be here now. He was able to check himself, or, we would check him into the mental health unit in Lawrence several times over the last 10 years of his life. And, when that unit closed, he said he didn't know how much longer he could go. The care he received in Topeka was horrible. But, the insurance, and, thank god we HAD insurance, offered that as the only place to go. Don't think for a second I don't know hardship. I lost my husband while I was battling advanced stage breast cancer. I'm raising two kids alone now. And, I am still better off than the folks I met at the Open Shelter.

RedNeck, let's hear from you some solid ideas how to improve the problem. I'm truly interested in hearing some real ideas, and alot less complaining. I suspect Lawrence has enough going for it to do something about this, not fix it FOR THEM, but find ways for people to help themselves!!!

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

yes, Kansasrose, the current state of all mental health, crisis care, lack of in-patient care, here in Lawrence is shameful. I also recently lost a dear relative because of this local mental health failure. he was never homeless though. I read in your post years of support and caring and an intense loss.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

LMH would have done more for the community by adding a mental health unit than by upgrading from semi-private to private rooms for everything-but-mental-health-care.

Thanks, LMH Board, for not providing the services that benefit the true needs of our community.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

I've allways believed in having a work farm type situation(volunteer only) ......the city could promote the products made there.

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