Letters to the Editor

Homeless concern

January 15, 2008


To the editor:

I am concerned about the condition of the homeless in Lawrence, some of whom have been turned away because our current facilities can no longer accommodate them, even in frigid weather conditions. Again and again, efforts have been made to expand and improve the facilities we now have. Again and again, little or nothing has been done.

On the other hand, the Lawrence City Commission has been called upon for $8 million in taxpayer funding for a large private industrial park. An additional (needed?) new golf course was approved a few years ago that is still operating in the red. Before long, the city will probably be asked to approve many millions for a new expanded city library.

Some of these projects are worthy of consideration, but what are the priorities for the city of Lawrence? Will the urgent need for adequate shelter and care for the homeless always be last on the list?

Harold Piehler,



Crossfire 10 years, 2 months ago

When I was little we brought a bum home. He had trouble talking, but my little brother nicknamed him Foamy. Mom said he had to go away, then she made us watch Old Yeller. We still miss him.

ladoggie 10 years, 2 months ago

all of us are going to to homeless if things don't change think about it before you rag on anybody else

Ragingbear 10 years, 2 months ago

Why bother? All the efforts to do anything are wasted. The city doesn't want to hear it, and the "homeless advocates" don't want to hear it. They just want to ignore the actual problems and hope they will go away. Just like every year. Then they whine and complain that homeless problem is getting worse.

freeordie 10 years, 2 months ago

Yawn. If Lawrence were all that bad for homeless people there wouldn't be very many. Most of the regulars you see around town and at the shelter have been here for years and are mentally ill-not homeless. They get financial aid and other assistance. A lot of the others hanging around at the sal. army are transient types. Smart ones head south for the winter. I miss Buck. He was a happy homeless guy. He'd share a smoke with you or a forty and definately some laughs. A lot of these others take up a lot of police time and resources with their B.S. nuisance calls on them. I here it routinely on the scanner. Cuz I'm always watchin' and listenin'.

Ragingbear 10 years, 2 months ago

You need to understand that I actually have the credentials to speak on this. 16 months living on the street, 2 years after that I finally got my disability. During that time I had to pay everything but rent on the $217 in assistance I got. Even now it is tight, but not that tight.

I have been a part of the homeless advocates since my days on the street. Yet every time I suggest a legitimate plan, or a solution, people ignore it. When I tell them that their efforts are merely a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done, I get ignored.

It don't matter. They won't listen. Oh, and by the way. Even though it was not true a few years ago, a homeless vortex is forming. Meaning that the homeless are starting to come here for the services. Still, the warnings fall upon the deaf ears of very naive people.

pusscanthropus 10 years, 2 months ago

Santa Monica, CA has a horrific homeless problem--no wonder, the beach is right there. One of the ways they've addressed it is to ban smoking on the sidewalks! So, now the homeless won't hang around on the sidewalks in front of the shops and restaurants because they can't smoke their $5+ pack of cigarettes! Poor homeless--especially the young healthy man with the dog and a sign that says "please help--need dog food" while he sits puffing a cigarette and strumming a banged up guitar. Give me a break!

Ragingbear 10 years, 2 months ago

Informed is anything but. When I was on the streets nearly 5 years ago, I was surprised as to how many people lived and worked in and around Lawrence before ending up on the streets. While it is true that some transients would stop by, and some would cause trouble in general, they made up less than 5% of the homeless population. Now those numbers have risen to nearly 15% or more.

As for the smoking thing. You would not believe how hard it is to quit. Especially when you are struggling to just survive on the streets. Although I do agree that the dog should not have been there. There are some kids that think it's "cool" to be "hippies" but are in fact just homeless kids that want no rules or consequences, so they spend every dime on crap. That demographic was small only a few years ago, and were generally here only short term. Now they are becoming bigger fixtures of Lawrence.

It don't matter. Eventually the amount of the homeless in Lawrence will account for 25% of the city's population. Because they are now drawn here.

Don't try to fix the problem by ignoring it, or shutting down vital services (Which many people with homes need to stay off the streets, such as LINK), all that we will get as a result of that is a bunch of more aggressive homeless committing petty crimes so they can have a warm bed for the winter.

nogoodguy1us 10 years, 2 months ago

Most of you blame the homeless for their plight, and in some cases this is true, but there is a much bigger problem than you people are able to expand your minds to see. I sat in on a few homeless commssion meetings and various other groups at city hall with a number of community members representing various groups. One major complaint I did hear was from the landlords of Larwence rep. complain that they had somewhere around 14% of their units empty and they're not making the money that they feel their entitled to. Maybe that's because their rent is so high and many people can't afford it. On my street alone, there are several homes where there are 3 or 4 roomates living in the homes to be able to pay their rent. Maybe if the landlords lowered their rent a little, then a single person or family can affored to rent their empty units, and maybe that would take some of the homeless off the street that you people are complaining about.

nogoodguy1us 10 years, 2 months ago

Oh yeah, did you know that a few years back that in a national study, Lawrence, Kansas was identified as the 2nd meanest city in the entire United States when it came to homelessness. The State of Kansas as of last year had the lowest minimum wage in the country. With all the budget cuts during this century, mental health facilities are being forced to release mentally ill people out on the street, the jails are over crowded because of mandatory minimum laws and the mentally ill, with way too many people being released on the streets with nowhere to go.

vhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

If you are going to disagree with the fact that there is indeed a problem with the homeless in Lawrence, you should at least know that the majority of homeless people suffer from mental and or physical disabilities. Just because you know of one person that picked that lifestyle doesn't mean that everybody else who is homeless did. A lot of homeless people are homeless because they have significant problems that prevent them from taking care of themselves, and we don't provide adequate support in order to avoid them having to live on the streets. Lawrence does has a problem with the homeless population and it has passed the point of being ridiculous that we haven't come up with a solution. In my opinion, Lawrence is very cruel to the homeless population.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 2 months ago

b73h: I'm just hoping for warmer weather so that the homeless can start having sex in the streets again. It has been kind of boring around Lawrence lately.

my, how intolerant you seem! shame.

you must have missed it, about a month ago or so, a dad and his kids walking across south park, the east half, saw two, a bum and a bumette naked on the floor of the men's room makin' whoopy. so, don't blame the cold weather.

they are attracted here. there seems to be a bum camp possibly on the north side of the river, about a block west of the boat ramp. frequently, they are walking on the levy. they deposit a special kind of trash on the levy too.

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 2 months ago

jade (Anonymous) says:

Thanks, Mumzie, for injecting a little truth and current events into the discussion. The housing crisis has brought the country to depression era conditions. When the middle class finds itself in the streets, we'll see sympathy for homelessness again, the kind that gave rise to the New Deal.

Nice post.

bigjdbigpapafreeroam 10 years, 2 months ago

ive been homeless for 19 yrs. and believe me when i say, ragingbear is right on some things, but yall all wrong on alot of things.i didnt become homeless by choice, i was forced into homeless, and im still trying to come out of it. its not easy, when u cant work, cause of ur criminal history or ur mental illness, or even ur health problems. my homeless started in kcks. i had to leave there to do better for myself, and i decide to come here, well since ive been here i got a wife, and five grandkids and one on the way. also on top of all my problems including homeless, that three yr. old boy that was sexually abused, is my youngest grandson, so while yall r running around here talking about what should be done for whatever, try walking in my shoes. when all i can do is cry cause i cant anything else accept wait for my disability to go through, wait for my operation to happen, matter of fact jus sit back and wait.

Mumzie 10 years, 2 months ago

I recently held a symposium re: the growing homeless situation in Johnson County (it was on Action 41 News - early Dec, 2007). The homeless rate is rising - yes, even in Johnson County. The majority of the homeless in various shelters, even in the 43rd wealthiest county in the nation, consists of families (parents/kids). Statistics show the main reason these people are coming to the shelters (and there is a long waiting list) is that they can no longer afford to keep up on the house payments and bills, even with both parents working. If you think about, aren't the majority of Americans only one or two mortgage payments away from also finding themselves in the same situation? Think about it and don't be so quick to judge.

jade 10 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, Mumzie, for injecting a little truth and current events into the discussion. The housing crisis has brought the country to depression era conditions. When the middle class finds itself in the streets, we'll see sympathy for homelessness again, the kind that gave rise to the New Deal.

freeordie 10 years, 2 months ago

The homeless guy that sits by Ernst and Son and the Bank on ninth takes your donations and buys beer at the Replay. I saw him there yesterday. Man, I feel sorry for him, he has to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 2 months ago

It just dawned on me.I have been sober for 4 years!!I used to sit downtown and smell like piss and bum change(thank you to all of you who donated),drink mouthwash and steal from time to time.Actually i am a terrible thief so I left that up to the more seasoned types.But,I would eagerly drink whatever bounty they could find.I was homeless and loving it! Serously,Lawrence homeless have it the best.I have been on the streets in many cities,towns and metropolises and of all the places I have been there is only one area that is better to the street bums than Lawrence.Wanna know where that is? Dig this>>Durant,Ok. No kidding. Free money,food motels if it gets cold and noone really expects you to become much of anything but they dont want you dying either so they cater and give and give.Bless them,the citizens of Durant.I highly recommend them if anyone has any travel plans. But,finsally after a brilliant drinking career that spanned decades i finally decided that enough is enough and getting sober and finding a place to live and getting a job was really the only way to go. First,I sought to get sober.I didnt expect it to come to me I went after it with a vengence.I wanted it more than i wanted the drink. After an inpatient facility(paid for by taxpayers)I went to a privately owned and operated half-way house and got a job. AFter living on change and cheetos and mouthwash for a few years,income ws a treat and i lived like a king while i was at that home. but,I awoke and found that I was twentyfive years behind most people my age.I was taking orders from and serving kids half my age and that was becoming unacceptable. SO,I looked into school.I havent set foot in a school room for years but I knew that this was the way to go if i were to expect better things in this world.So I am now in school seeking a degree in liberal Arts because I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.But I do know where ive been and have no desire to go back. It can be done.But the homeless alcoholic/addict must want to do it for themselves.Otherwise no amount of $$ wil change anything.No shelter or program will change anything unless the homeless person wants to be un-homeless. Like i said,I was lovin life as a bum in lawrence.Easy money,free food and the jail here is a cake walk. Gotta get to class,morelater.

bugmenot 10 years, 2 months ago

The animals were made homeless by human beings. I'd much rather see homeless services funded for them, than for people who, in most cases, choose their homelessness or blame it on "disability." My mother worked for 35 years in social security, and 70% of the cases she worked were "disability" cases - BS things like "bad backs," "fibromyalgia," and problems stemming from drug and alcohol abuse. Drop the drugs and alcohol, and find a job answering phones. You aren't disabled.

bugmenot 10 years, 2 months ago

That, and the humane society processes about 250,000 animals a year, giving them about a buck per animal. There are maybe 50 homeless people in Lawrence.

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