Letters to the Editor

Homeless hypocrisy

November 6, 2008


To the editor:

So they've cleaned up that homeless site - again. Why, they almost had a real city down there! Now where are "they" supposed to live?

Shhhhh! None of us is entitled to judge the circumstances or choices that lead to homelessness. The issue of having a 24/7 homeless center with beds, bathing facilities, case management and resources to other vital services has become a circular debate in this town - for the last 10 years that I know of.

It seems that one underpinning of this debate has been some "Field of Dreams" philosophy that if we build it "they" will come. Hello : "they" are and have been here. Another underpinning has been the NIMBY syndrome: "Not In My Backyard." For all the private money in this town, for the progressive "blue spot in a red state" reputation many Lawrence folk like to tout, for the seeming awareness of issues like dignity, compassion, kindness, acceptance and unconditional positive regard for all, Lawrencians ought to be embarrassed that we do not have a permanent shelter where occupancy isn't based on the temperature, etc.

Are we practicing the caste system of India where homeless people are the untouchables? When is Lawrence going to get over itself and do the right thing for people who are homeless? There are many residents who are frighteningly one or two paychecks away from homelessness. Would you turn your backs on them? This election was about a time of change. In Lawrence this seems a good place to begin.

Catherine Bolton,


geekin_topekan 9 years, 6 months ago

Bus tickets for all to the neighboring state of their choice!+++I would be interested to see how many would actually take up such an offer.And I wonder how many would return?As a former homeless person I found that Lawrence was as homeless-friendly a town you can find.Free camping,free food,free money,more-than-generous police,and plenty of wanna-do-good college students.If you can't make it back to your camp than the nearest bush will suffice.In hindsight,I would not have taken such an offer.When I was homeless,I left town on several occasions and always came back to Lawrence.

northsider 9 years, 6 months ago

Three homeless people have died in the last month. This is sad but true. Maybe some tough love would be good for them. On any given day, most of these people could make their own decision to pick themselves up and make their own lives better. There is plenty of opportunity in Lawrence to do this. We can not make the decision for them. I think the saying goes " you can lead a horse to water ..."

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 6 months ago

Cathernine,You had a decent point going (which I disagree with) until the very end. That's when you made your argument partisan and political. You won't be successful in getting what you want if you alienate 46.5% of the public.

igby 9 years, 6 months ago

We demand a Carefree gypsy lifestyle with free 3 hots and a cot. Panning money for liquor and drugs on the side while we sit around on the sidewalk like toads on a flat rock and look at all the real people and slur at them for having a life while spitting, puking and trashing the benches with our swill. We deserve the respect of a modern society because you owe us everything we don't have because we don't like the system for whatever reason so f**k you all and give it up. Now!Lol.

geekin_topekan 9 years, 6 months ago

Bowhunter believes that generosity and compassion is what is wrong in America?No wonder her side lost.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 6 months ago

"...but adding more of all those desirable people, and all the infrastructure and services they need, did create the need for higher taxes." -just another bozo on the emp-TMore proof that bozo hates humanity. Kind of sociopathic sounding, don't you think boze?

dipweed 9 years, 6 months ago

I just want to walk down Mass without being panhandled. Is that too much to ask?

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm suprised no one has come up w/ a comaprison to the humane society. Here's an idea...Why don't we give them some training, and if they don't use that training to better themselves within a certain amount of time, they're euthanized.

Kat Christian 9 years, 6 months ago

These people are in a catch-22 vortex of life. No one wants to hire them and/or take the time to train them in a job because they are homeless. So that's why they are sitting their fat butts on a stoop. Yes, some have a drinking or drug problem for various reasons, but who are YOU to judge them. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I think turning our backs on the homeless situation only worsens it. I truly believe we can serve best by teaching and helping these people build their way into a life they may never have known. Turning away from this problem is not the answer. That's like turning your back on a filthy, smelly house thinking that someone else will clean it up The problem is there are so many individual problems that one blanket solution can't solve it. These people have history, some being bleak. Let's face it society always chooses the most popular problems to solve first for publicity reasons. We need case managers who know how to help on an ongoing individualized basis and not enable these people. I don't think a one stop handout is the answer it only enables a person. Where do they gain their pride back in that? They need an advocate who will rally for them in the workforce industry, in housing, medical and counseling. If we don't stand up to this plight it will only spread and darken our society worse than it is today. Regardless of how much they smell, how obnoxious they may be (I would be if I were homeless), or how drunk they are - they are human beings with heart though buried in the muck of the bad side of life. We are obligated to each other whether we like it or not and people turn their backs thinking "out of sight out of mind" until one day a homeless person confronts them for a handout then they complain to officials as if its not their problem. Well buddy it is all of our problem. We are all in this boat together and if we all don't pick up the oars and row then the boat is going to sink.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 6 months ago

That's funny, Bowhunter. In another thread, you chastise me for pointing out the costs of growth, claiming that I'm being unfair to new people coming to town, even though it just cost you a substantial increase in your taxes. But in this thread, you want to erect a fence around the town to keep out anyone who can't afford a taxpayer subsidized house in West Lawrence.

SMe 9 years, 6 months ago

Igby, you forgot "fight with each other."

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 6 months ago

"It is just a matter of perception."Actually, its a matter of broad generalization. The type of generalization usually reserved for racists, sexists and anyone else who demands to classify big groups of people by a few misconceptions. There are bad people in every social group. Why are the homeless the only group that people refuse to separate the bad from the group and admit there might be good people caught in unfortunate circumstances there?

somebodynew 9 years, 6 months ago

And Yeti, while I understand, I am much more cynical and feel there are more manipulaters than deserving. So, if you continue to maintain what is, with no accoutability, then more manipulaters come to the feast. There has to be some accountibility established so that I am not helping those who just want to "live free".I have no problem with someone who chooses that for a lifestyle, just don't expect me to pay for it through my social services that I think are meant for the truly deserving. Live free and fend for yourself, don't come to LINK, or a shelter, or anyplace that accepts government funds.Until, some authority steps in and requires these differences I maintain a calloused attitude. (Probably not correct, but the way it is.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 6 months ago

Draggin' out the strawmen, eh, STRS? I'm just pointing out that the cost of growth driven by the corporate/developer welfare method as we have had necessitates ever-increasing taxes.

somebodynew 9 years, 6 months ago

Yeti - I agree with your point and think most people understand that, but - just how do you separate the two groups when NONE of the "agencies" will do that. The open shelter lets anyone in (at least the SA tries to enforce some rules) and everybody gets mixed in together. Shouldn't it be one of the helping agencies responsibility to sort out the groups?? I know I can't talk to each of them individually and come to my own conclusions. And if the agencies continues to provide assistance for all with no questions asked, how can we help the deserving and not the free-loaders??

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 6 months ago

No one should look down on the homeless...most of them are not there by choice. And these days, almost everyone is a couple of paychecks away from being right beside them.

leadstone 9 years, 6 months ago

To madmike- The website doesn't even exist, although maybe it should. It still serves as a prop to get my point across. perhaps....some folk are just too darned thick-headed. Some people have no clue. What if I were a violent or dangerous person and their words actually upset me? Instead of showing them their own ignorance through jest even they could understand, jumped up with a weapon like the woman we all read about with the knife? Ugly no matter how it turns out. And thank you very much for your implied threat. It appears as though I've made myself a true friend. I can handle myself with confidence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 6 months ago

One thing's for sure-- the homeless haven't been a significant factor in the need to raise taxes, but adding more of all those desirable people, and all the infrastructure and services they need, did create the need for higher taxes.

lawrencechick 9 years, 6 months ago

Give it a rest Catherine. Lawrence residents have no problem supporting truly homeless people who are trying to get back on their feet. What we don't support is driving along Vermont street and watching able bodied people hanging out, smoking, playing games, and panhandling. I work too hard for my money to squander it on them.

leadstone 9 years, 6 months ago

Another part of the problem is that a lot of folk think they're so much better. Maybe better off...but not better. One day I was posted up on a bus bench waiting fot the T and this small gruop of snobbies stopped their loud, boisterous conversation and attemted to whisper " UH-OH, here's another homless guy. After I heard that I jumped off the bench iPhone in hand, and took a photo of the girl who said it. She asked what I was doing. I told her " It's for my website, you may have heard of it.. Bitchbook. I think I may have found Miss May." So you see my friends, Not every homeless person you come across is bad, and some are not homeless at all. Don't let the well-weatherd backpack and blue jeans fool you or you could be the one to look the fool.

leadstone 9 years, 6 months ago

Madmike- Whatever, there was 4 of them and only one of me. Maybe they were friends of yours, is that why you're so sore. And since when is it illegal to take pictures? Are you going to make that your next arguement? Remember, there is a reason folk of this ilk are called " stuck-up " Perhaps you should worry more about their obvious medical condition and less about the ol' leadstone.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 6 months ago

somebody new- Thats the million dollar question, isn't it? I honestly dont know the answer. But if you give me the choice of helping everyone and realize that some are going to manipulate the system or help no one, I'm going to pick the former.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 6 months ago

Could be worse, could be like downtown Denver.

Zype 9 years, 6 months ago

Oh, that's right Larry.Because anyone who doesn't support your views on the homeless people must be homeless themselves.

Polly_Gomer 9 years, 6 months ago

madmike (Anonymous) says:"Well leadstone, that is a quick way to a lawsuit and an @sswhipping."Punk troll. WTF do you think you are?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 6 months ago

woodenfleaeater-- Your final solution really isn't all that new.

somebodynew 9 years, 6 months ago

Sunshine -absolutly great post. I don' t have any problem trying to assist someone who wants to get out of the problem they are in, but I refuse to enable those who just want to live off the rest of us.Hawk - I am very impressed with your comments tonight (probably won't ever hear that from me again). Yes, from what I hear drugs were the reason for the two guys at the "camp" even though they didn't live there. Which brings me to a conection type thought.- These guys had money (I guess) to go to a Rave and be up for several days and somehow get drugs to try to come down from those drugs - but acording to a LTE they were living "free". Now just how is all that possible.???????

Kat Christian 9 years, 6 months ago

But Northsider who is leading them to the water (if you will)? Everyone turns their back on the except to give more handouts. That's is the easy way out - just give them some lotion and I'll feel better for being thoughtful. Yes I agree with the tuff Love. Let's say you offer a homeless person an opportunity at job training, housing, drug or alcohol program and/or medical treatment and sponsor them. These are the tools and they decide to walk away from it. This is when our town decides to get tuff. You either try to apply yourself or move on because there is no room at the Inn for loafers anymore. But I don't see anyone wanting to take that stand. I believe there are more homeless out there that want that chance and yes there are some who really don't give a crap. If they don't want to change nothing we present to them is going to make them - and that is their lose. But to give a person the opportunity to change is something. Then we've truly helped. This is a cruel world. Some people can handle the harshness, but some grow weak and tired because they've never been taught how to deal with life. I'm not saying this is a fail safe answer - it's just a thought. I work hard for my money too. I live check to check and have very little if any to hand out. But I have knowledge and love to offer if a homeless person wants to listen.

Kat Christian 9 years, 6 months ago

Consumer 1 you are correct in that (and if you read what I wrote again) that handing out to the homeless just enables them to want more handed to them. Teaching them to be self-sufficient, helping them build self-esteem, and giving them the tools to do it for themselves is what I am saying. I don't think that is being self-righteous. Lord I'm the last person to be that.

Danimal 9 years, 6 months ago

The homeless who won't help themselves need to go. Those that can't help themselves I have no problem with helping. It's when some able-bodied young man comes bounding up to me or rides up on a fairly new bike and asks me for money that I get pissed. It's time to show all the homeless people who can't demonstrate a genuine connection to Lawrence (family, former residence, etc.) the door. We need to have the cops start enforcing our vagrancy laws, is it really legal for people to sleep on our benches and in our parks at night? If it is we should change that ASAP.

alicenevada 9 years, 6 months ago

hawk,I am in complete agreement with the idea of a permit. The last time I was verbally assaulted for not handing over my money, my first thought was to call the police to have the woman removed. Right on the heels of that thought was the resignation that it is just a waste of my tax dollars to have the police come out, try to reason with her, and move her one block down.I will be at the meeting on Tuesday. I am fed up.

optimator 9 years, 6 months ago

To all the compassionate people wanting to help the homeless find jobs: I'm a hard working grad student about to graduate in May. It's a tough job market out there now. Please send me a line if you can help me find a position in finance.

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