Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Homeless forum cites progress but challenges remain

January 9, 2008


Homeless advocates discuss issues

Homeless advocates met on Tuesday to discuss housing, transportation and employment issues facing the homeless in the Lawrence community. Enlarge video

During a town hall meeting on homelessness Tuesday, a man apparently under the influence of alcohol took a seat and proceeded to disrupt the program, his voice rising over that of the speaker.

"As much as I sympathize with the drunks, this is a public forum," participant Hubbard Collinsworth said, responding to some concern that the man was not treated fairly when escorted from the room. "I understand their problems ... but we are trying to get the community's involvement and do not need excessive interruptions."

The incident underscored the challenges the community faces as it tries to address homelessness. From the homeless people visible on the streets to families and children whose struggles are often hidden from public view, the challenges they face are varied and great, advocates say.

"It's a really complicated situation, particularly when we get to dealing with the causes of chronic homelessness - alcoholism, addiction, mental illness," said Loring Henderson, executive director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, 214 W. 10th St.

Tuesday's fourth annual town hall meeting was convened by the Coalition on Homeless Concerns. It focused on employment, transportation and the efforts of the city's Community Commission on Homelessness.

"We're making baby steps," said Collinsworth, an advocate of the Coalition on Homeless Concerns who also was once homeless. "But we're better now than we were three years ago. Through grass-roots efforts, through other organizations' efforts, we're making progress."

The homeless commission in June gave city officials its recommendations for how to serve the nearly 400 people who are homeless in Lawrence. That vision covers an emergency shelter and other types of housing, including temporary emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing.

"It's a changing document," said Shirley Martin-Smith, chairwoman of the homeless commission.

The Lawrence Community Shelter made a proposal before the homeless commission and was identified as the entity that fits in with the commission's vision for an emergency shelter.

And the commission is having discussions with other agencies, Martin-Smith said.

"We're asking people to tell us how they want to fit into the housing vision," she said.

The homeless commission will report back to the City Commission in the spring.

"It will help them understand where the gaps are," Martin-Smith said. "It can help the city support organizations who want to apply for a grant at the state or federal level."

And the city will get a better picture of the services offered in the community and those that are needed, Martin-Smith said.

Meanwhile, there is progress, Henderson said.

He said many people, including members of the commission and the public, have learned about homelessness.

"I think it's been an education for the general community - for them to hear how complicated an issue homelessness is, that these are not just people who don't want to work," Henderson said.

A 2007 survey of the city's homeless found that of the 373 people counted, 192 were in homeless families with children. Henderson said those findings changed people's minds about the issue.

"Now when we think 'homeless,' we think much more of the whole picture and we see it with its nuances," he said, "and that is real progress."


Meatwad 10 years, 4 months ago

Way to go Smitty! You as so right they they are enabling the problem. How is that tax payer money is funding that shelter? That shelter exacerbates the problem. Some homeless people have real mental or addiction problems and should be taken care of by a state hospital. But some people just don't want to work and for them, we have provided a PARTY they can go to all day when they aren't out getting alcohol or drugs. They have a place to smoke, drink, do drugs, socialize, call people on their cell phones. Where is the incentive to work? That shelter needs to really take a look at itself.

119perez 10 years, 4 months ago

I have a broken heart reading the news, the forums and blogs; how little has been done to prevent more stories like seems that the problem is getting worst every month, many shelters are being closed...In the winter, when I travel I bring many used warm clothes and shoes to give to homeless in the streets. The government say : 50% are on the streets because they lost their job and homes - 45% suffer from mental illness - 50% have substance abuse problems - 67% served three or more years in the military - 33% were stationed in a war zone - 25% have used VA Homeless Services - 89% received an honorable discharge... why do they end on the streets???

What the government is going to do with the homeless with the US in a recession? The situation was already bad before:and nothing has been done to solve the situation! Look at the streets in Las Vegas... NY... Financial institutions are not going to help, be sure. People are scared trying to rescue their homes from sharks in the real estate market and from foreclosures, bankruptcies.

In the country I am living now you do not see many homeless , no vets on the streets, there are many soup kitchens, hospitals, pshychologists, job offers after a training program, warm beds to sleep at night, friendly treatment. In US there are so many abandoned on the streets, starving, dying every winter, what a shame!!! Do something before is too late, the veterans gave their blood for the country and now they face a life in hell!!! Look at the middle class having their houses foreclosured by huge banks, people being bankrupt every day, including the ones in the military, kids in bad, unreliable public schools being bullied and attacked,

I left US, then Panama, moving to South America, great landscapes, great food, friendly people, nice weather, good cost of living, due to a stable economy and construction boom in many states, the Middle East people, the Americans are investing heavily now since the economy has been stable..

My American dream is gone. Wake up, America before is too late. All the blessings, Perez.

scarsacred 9 years ago

try to read this ebook. some of all people that have a problem change their live and they share a story for the people who suffer their problem. and im the one of them who read and share the inspirational story.

try to visit the full volume of story and feel free to download:

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