Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Creative funding solutions sought for providing services to homeless

September 11, 2007


Commuinity Commission on Homelessness seeking agency

The Community Commission on Homelessness asked a local agency to step forward and become this clearinghouse. Enlarge video

New ideas, not new money, will fuel a plan to provide services to the homeless, Lawrence social service leaders were told Monday.

Shirley Martin-Smith, chairwoman of the city's Community Commission on Homelessness, told a crowd of about 50 social service leaders Monday afternoon that the amount of city funding they receive may change in future years as the City Commission looks for ways to use existing funds to provide services to the homeless.

"We're not talking about any new money right now," Martin-Smith told the crowd. "That is the message from the City Commission. We want to see what we can do with the money that we have."

Martin-Smith said city commissioners are expected to look at how much money they spend on homeless services now and determine whether it could be spent more efficiently as part of a coordinated plan.

That means social service agencies that rely heavily on city funding may want to keep an eye on the process to see how it may affect their future budgets. Chip Blaser, executive director of the Douglas County Community Foundation, said he wasn't sure whether local social service agencies had understood yet that a major funding shift could be on the horizon.

"I do think it is important to note that homelessness is a major issue, but it is just one of several issues that social service agencies are addressing on a daily basis," Blaser said.

City leaders also want to see how much the private sector and religious community can step up to help solve the problem. Martin-Smith gave the group details of a plan that city commissioners approved in June that would encourage landlords and even homeowners to provide housing for people in need.

Martin-Smith said private sector landlords, for example, could agree to donate vacant apartment space to be used for a short period of time as temporary housing. Individuals with a spare room also could agree to allow a homeless individual or family to stay with them for a time period while more permanent housing is found.

But to get that part of the plan started, Martin-Smith said an existing social service agency needs to agree to serve as a "clearinghouse" for the program. That would involve serving as a point of contact for individuals who want to donate housing or other services to the homeless. The agency would maintain a database that would be available to all the homeless service providers.

Martin-Smith is asking all social service agencies interested in serving as the clearinghouse agency to attend a meeting next month to discuss the issue further. The meeting is set for 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.

Martin-Smith said she wants the Community Commission on Homelessness to have some firm recommendations in place for the City Commission to consider by April.


Ragingbear 10 years, 9 months ago

Oh. So the City plans on doing something about homelessness. Perhaps some sort of vision, or statement, or mission statement, or even something like making another commission to oversee the commission that oversees the secondary commission appointed by the City Commission to assist the City Commission on Homelessness. They can then pay an adviser $100,000 to tell us absolutely nothing and then assign his views to be overseen by another commission who will then give us a vision in 4-6 years.

They know what needs to be done. They're just too lazy to bother to do anything.

50YearResident 10 years, 9 months ago

How about spending some of the funds on bus tickets. The pay back on those will save a lot of money for the city.

Kat Christian 10 years, 9 months ago

by human nature we all want to feel valued. Just handing out to the homeless enables them and makes them feel powerless. I think the best thing we can do is to provide a community where they can become an intricale (sp?) part by offering their talents and in exchange it can provide them with a home, self-worth and feeling accomplished. I'm thinking a self-contained community where they do the work, the upkeep, neighbors help each other but at the same time provide these individuals (and families) with a home. If they are responsible for the upkeep in whatever capacity they can, then perhaps they will be more inclined to work towards a better lives for themselves. I don't know perhpas it's just a dream but I feel that if enough volunteers work to help guide these individuals it can work. It won't be easy and it would take a significant amount of money to get it started. If I won the lottery of $22 millions dollars this is what I would do with it. Right here in river city.

50YearResident 10 years, 9 months ago

offtotheright, I agree, let all those that are strong supporters of the homeless open up their homes for use by homeless for 6 months and then we will re-evaluate how successful this was and if the supporters are still in favor of sharing their homes at that time .

Ragingbear 10 years, 9 months ago

Bus tickets won't work. They won't accept them. You can't run them out of town, other areas have tried. The charity shelters and such are a big joke. The city commission has tried sweeping this issue under the rug for at least the last 12 years. Something needs to be done. The bad thing is that only a little effort and reform is needed to drop the homeless population by over 80% in 12 months.

Once again. If anyone wants a copy of my plan, email me with an email address I can send a .doc file to.

lily 10 years, 9 months ago

I think there are those homeless who could benefit from a little help. Unfortunately I think there is an even larger number who like the "powerlessness" as they just want a handout. Only my opinion but I'm entitled to mine like everyone else is theirs. You give an inch and a mile is taken. I know churches that have opened up their doors to the ones the Salvation Army turn away. What happens? They become a fixture, expecting more, polluting the area so that the children are no longer safe. Condoms, needles, bottles, loitering, etc in a public park where school children can no longer play because of the dangers. That's what happens. I am more than happy to give to the food pantry and donate to LINK but I don't like to be told I have to bring certain types of food or take time off my job to deliver at a specific time. My family eats whatever I buy and whatever is on sale. I wouldn't open my home to a stranger and put my family at risk.
Homeless or not. I'm all for helping those that need a jump start but at some point we all need to be responsible for ourselves. I'll get off my soapbox.

mick 10 years, 9 months ago

When you talk about funding "programs" you are talking about funding the employees of the programs. They are the ones who benefit, not the homeless. Been there.

50YearResident 10 years, 9 months ago

Mick, give some of these jobs to the homeless and pay them with min wage if they work. Have them preparing their own food, washing their own dishes, cleaning up afterwards. If they do a good job then give them preference on a place to stay the night. What's the old saying, "The Lord helps them that help themselves".

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 9 months ago

They know what needs to be done. They're just too lazy to bother to do anything.

Are you referring to the homeless people themselves or the City Commission?

geekin_topekan 10 years, 9 months ago

What I find very interesting is that there are individuals that "volunteer" at the shelter,who are clients at the same time,who can make it to their post,on time,everytime,without fail and perform with an almost professional manner.Why can't they exhibit the same dedication to say..wallyworld or Micky D's? When I brought this extremely responsible behavior to their attention and asked why they don't pursue a paying position somewhere in town the response is either A,they will lose their "disability" status or B,they simply lower their head and say "I know,I know". One even said "If I work I will lose my $600 a month!" I suggested that they would earn Three times that much!! Oh well,no easy answers but these are beyond me. Oh yeah.And then there are the obvious ones.(my self) that simply aren't ready or willing to sober up,get the help they need and get on with the program.It usually takes an act of desperation after a self-diagnosed catastrophe to motivate those types.And even then it may or may not work.Those are the ones we find dead in the park from time to time.

staff04 10 years, 9 months ago

"I suggested that they would earn Three times that much!!"

Let's just think about this for a second...

I don't really know what the starting wage at McDonald's or Wal-Mart is, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say $7.50/hour. Let's assume that the average month has 4 workweeks. By this math, one would have to work 60 hours per week to make $1800/month, before taxes are taken out.

Nevermind the fact that Wal-Mart doesn't allow anyone to work overtime--not sure how McDonald's does it, but I imagine they regulate overtime too.

Sure, they should get two jobs--hell, I did it until about 6 weeks ago, working a second weekend job to make ends meet. But good luck piecing together the time to work 2 or 3 jobs to total up to that 3x as much as they get for not working--and I bet that $600 is free and clear of taxes.

I'm not saying you shouldn't encourage them to work instead of living on your dime, but before you make an outlandish suggestion to them, stop for a moment to think about what you are saying.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 9 months ago

OK well Twice then.Geez mon!!You know what the F### Im trying to say,.Quit making excuses for them and get back to work.

staff04 10 years, 9 months ago

Did I not explicitly say they should get 2 jobs? Thanks, that's what I thought.

I didn't make excuses for anyone, I just think that before you make it sound so easy, you should examine the reasons why one might not want to give up their $600 guarantee/month. It isn't as simple as you would like to have it be--"they're just lazy."

They may be lazy--hell, who among us doesn't have some lazy in them? But to simplify it down to just that one reason is shortsighted. I hope geekin and ottr take the time to think about the bigger picture in the future. I don't really expect you to, but it would be a nice gesture to show that you actually read my post before jumping down my keyboard if you would think before you respond in the future.

Peace out. Going home to be lazy.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

staff04, someone making $7.50 per hour ($1800 per month) will pay no income tax, state or federal; the hit is only for SS and medicare. So the net takehome would be around $1665.90, a month, free and clear.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

I work two jobs as an employee and one as self employed.

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 9 months ago

Most posters here are probably one or two paychecks away from being homeless in a catastrophic event. Put things in perspective before washing your hands of a human being.

konzagirasol 10 years, 9 months ago

What in the name of heaven has happened to my hometown? I used to be so proud to have been born there, not somewhere else. I have been homeless in the Old, Old, Preternaturally Dominion - Virginia - through no fault of my own and have worked with the homeless in our nation's capital, cooking with and for them, offering tutoring for GEDs, taking them gleaning in a Maryland potato field, and taking them to a free Kennedy Center concert. Some of these people have had catastrophic misfortunes, some are veterans with PSTD, some were patients at St. Elizabeth's and were simply turned out on the streets without resources.

My Lawrence grandparents, mother, aunt and uncles (and Vinland father) taught - and demonstrated - compassion, not thoughtless condemnation of others. I remember offering some assistance to a homeless vet in Georgetown while walking with coworkers (he had not begged for money); they admonished me to save my own money so I would never be in his situation. Little did they know that I lived in a car when Virginia police would not protect me from my husband, the magistrate ridiculed me (the social worker who documented my injuries had assured me he would issue an arrest warrant). One of those coworkers later appeared above the fold on page A1 of The Washington Post - drunk and handcuffed to a USPS mailbox. Her, I had little sympathy for, since she had none for others. Some of you sound just as callous and uninterested in others' life stories and circumstances. Whatever happened to "There, but for the grace of God, go I?"

I have hoped to pay off debt and return home with my brother's ashes so as not to die in Virginia; now, I wonder just how I would feel about those of you who sound like every right-winger below the Mason-Dixon line. I believed our heritage was not merely different, but infinitely better. I must have been wrong.

staff04 10 years, 9 months ago

"staff04, someone making $7.50 per hour ($1800 per month) will pay no income tax, state or federal; the hit is only for SS and medicare. So the net takehome would be around $1665.90, a month, free and clear."

Wow, you either know nothing, or you just told a fib hoping no one would call you on it. Ready with your tax tables?

An individual grossing $1800/month makes $21,600/year. I know it is an assumption, but for our sake, we're going to say that the person is single without dependents. In 2006, that person would have had to pay $1591 in Federal Income Tax.

Again, not saying the local homeless shouldn't try to hold paying jobs, just annoyed by your misinformation or disinformation or whatever you want to call it being passed off as fact.

staff04 10 years, 9 months ago

I forgot to say,'re also assuming a person can find 2 or 3 jobs that pay that much/hr to get up to 60 hrs/week.

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