Archive for Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homeless receive one-way tickets out of town

April 2, 2009


— Andrea and Greg Killgore were living on the streets in Las Vegas when they decided to relocate to Lancaster in early March. They thought their job prospects would be better in California.

But they were unable to find work and feared they would end up back on the streets.

Before long, they were on a bus headed to Denver, where a relative had agreed to take them in. To their surprise, a local nonprofit group had agreed to pay for their one-way ticket out of town.

Since January, the Grace Resource Center has offered to cover transportation expenses for homeless people to return to their home states or wherever they have family or other means of support. So far the group has spent about $2,500 to help more than a dozen people leave Lancaster through the Opportunity Bus Pass Program.

“It’s to help people get well and start over,” said Steve Baker, the center’s executive director.

Andrea Killgore, 31, said she was grateful for the free bus voucher.

“This is a step for us to get back on our feet,” Killgore said. Without it, she said, “we’d be on the streets, or stuck here until my next (Social Security) check.”

Mayor R. Rex Parris is a strong advocate of the bus program and has contributed $10,000 of his own money.

Homeless people who have relocated to Lancaster are putting a strain on local police and social services, Parris said. The city’s own needy should come first, he said.

“We have an obligation to take care of our own homeless,” he said.

There are an estimated 73,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, including at least 2,000 in the Antelope Valley, the area around Lancaster, on any given night, according to statistics from the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Anecdotal evidence suggests the number is rising because of the economic downturn, said Christine Marge, officer of the agency’s Basic Needs program.

Some homeless advocates take issue with the philosophy behind homeless busing programs.

“It makes the assumption that someone has some fabulous support system someplace far away,” said Anat Rubin, director of public policy at Lamp Community, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles’ skid row, who acknowledged that she was not familiar with the specifics of Grace’s program. “If someone is living on the street, the likelihood they have some great support system someplace else is slim.”

So far, most beneficiaries of the free bus program in Lancaster have been local residents who chose to go elsewhere, according to the Grace Resource Center.

In addition to hot meals and showers, the center provides emergency groceries, clothing, counseling and other services to at least 8,000 needy residents each month, officials said.

Baker, the center’s director and a pastor for more than three decades, said that he and the mayor had different motivations for the bus-pass program but that they agreed on the goal: to reduce homelessness in Lancaster and help people get their lives back on track.

“We’re not in the business of shipping people out of here,” Baker said. “We’re in the ministry of compassion. We know that God can turn people’s lives around.”


skinny 9 years, 1 month ago

Lawrenc ought to do the same, and NOW!

Mixolydian 9 years, 1 month ago

skinny (Anonymous) says…

Lawrenc ought to do the same, and NOW!

This is isn't the government of Lancaster providing this service, it's a religious charitable organization that also provides, as the story says, emergency groceries, clothing, counseling and other services to at least 8,000 needy residents each month.

The majority of my charitable giving goes to groups like this.

geekin_topekan 9 years, 1 month ago

This is really nothing new or groundbreaking.Churches have been granting homeless people transport for decades.Heck,I used church funds to get all over the country when I was younger.All for the same reasons;to start fresh and get out of a losng situation.It was very easy and very addictive.

Hmm,so I of go to Lancaster this summer and day labor and save some bucks,stash it in my bag and go to the organization,I am guaranteed a free bus pass back to toontown?Im totally down! If Lawrence starts a program like this,we'd better hope that the homeless "grapevine" doesn't catch word of it.We'll have homeless moving into town by the day.It would not lower the homeless population.It would encourage it by making Lawrence even more homeless friendly.Just like Lancaster.

Oh and, and majority of the homeless are born and bred Lawrencians.They are as home as they will ever get.

Boeing 9 years, 1 month ago

I grew up near Lancaster, and if you go there this summer, pack your swimsuit and prepare for 190 degree temps! :)

John Hamm 9 years, 1 month ago

Boeing but it's still better than Kansas!

gr 9 years, 1 month ago

"This is isn't the government of Lancaster providing this service,"

How about adding an extra sales tax and make use of the empT to bus them to Californy.

Then, we can start with the next group we don't like here.

gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

How about if we provide one-way airfare to Somalia for all the LJWorld posters who publicly oppose government services? Somalia has no government, no law, and no taxes, so it must be a shining example of free-market Capitalism, right? Isn't that what the Right wishes for here?

Daniel Davidson 9 years, 1 month ago

Instead of beating the homeless down. Why dont we try to help them back on their feet. How about a shelter which has counsiling and rehabilitation services which would help to reintagrat them back into society. Give local business a tax break for partnering with the facility to offer jobs for these less fortunit people.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 1 month ago

You think the homeless population is lower in colder states....I mean like being homeless in California and Hawaii has gotta kinda be like camping in an being homeless in Montana.....that's a feat.

staff04 9 years, 1 month ago

When I was in school studying urban development, we referred to this as "Greyhound Therapy." I appreciate that it comes from a charitable group, but a bus ticket really doesn't do anything to actually address the problem of homelessness--it just puts it out of sight for the moment.

spankyandcranky 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow. What an odd article. I'd be interested in hearing research on how effective or ineffective the bus ticket method is on helping the homeless find support in another area.

Practicality 9 years, 1 month ago

We should adopt this program here. That way when the homeless get tired of being in Lawrence, we can give them a bus ticket back to Lancaster.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 1 month ago

oneeye_wilbur, if Eudora keeps raising taxes so they can build a new school every year you just might have some homeless people. It's getting out of control, especially when the town spends so much money to beautify their downtown with a flawed plan.

independent_rebel 9 years, 1 month ago

I really sick of this issue because no one in honest, especially those who claim they are trying to "help" the homeless. As usual, the only solution that would provide any measure of success does not come from the far right, or from the wacky left, but from pragmatists. Of course, that also means it won't be put into place.

We don't have the resources, private or public, to deal with the size of the homeless population in Lawrence. There are simply too many homeless people in this community with no ties to Lawrence. They come here because somewhere down the line they heard Lawrence enables their often chosen lifestyle. Others are pushed to come (and sometimes driven here or provided a bus ticket here) by outside law enforcement agencies and social agencies because of the reputation Lawrence has as a viable community for homeless people.

A few years ago the LCS thought about purchasing a former rest home in the Prairie Meadows neighborhood. Members of that neighborhood researched the origins of the homeless population, literally looking up every story about the homeless in the LJWorld and going down to the LCS and simply asking them where they are from. The majority are either not from Lawrence or have sketchy-at-best ties to the community (i.e. they have "friends" or "relatives" here that--surprise--can't help them).

Don't believe me? Just check out every story in the LJWorld. Features, police blots, anything and everything. Just about every "feature story" about a homeless person will show that person is not from here. But here they are, standing in line and taking a disproportionate share of the private and public contributions.

That is where the problem resides. You say you care about helping a down and out family who is trying, so you donate to the Salvation Army. Or, Boog, Gwen, and Hilda decide we need to take money away from city employees and our streets and instead give money to the LCS.
See, all this money goes into a pool, and the felons, drunks, druggies, and homeless-by-choice freeloaders steal almost all of our money, whether the money is given by choice (private donations) or by force (city tax contributions).

Isn't there one politician or city hall leader that will say enough is enough--if you want help, you must be from our community. If you are not, get to the back of the line but realize the help may run out before you get any. If you don't like it, there's always San Francisco, or Leawood.

independent_rebel 9 years, 1 month ago

I want to help the homeless mom who just lost her job and has a child. But my donation would have a better chance to go to the free-wheelin' drunk who hangs out with his buds, annoys people downtown asking for a cigarette or some change, sleeps on someone's porch, etc.

To me, the only solution is private donations directly to a homeless person or family that is actually making an effort to get off the streets. Any government solution will cause those most deserving to fight it out with those who are here just to mooch off of our generocity.

We need to ask questions of the homeless. Who are you, where are you from, why are you here, what are you doing to get out of this situation?

If the enablers like Boog, Gwen, Dennis, and Hilda get their way (i.e. more forced contributions) there will never be any measurable success. They need there to be homeless, and plenty of them, for their chosen lifestyle (liberalism, socialism) to be relevant.

I want to see real help--not to the bum who tries to intimidate the mom shopping with her small child to give him money so he can get his next sip or next hit--but to the family where the husband was downsized out of a job but has the desire and willingness to get back on his feel.

Lawrence is not progressive. A progressive solution would be an honest one. We will never solve the homeless issue because there are too many homeless who either choose to life a lifestyle that causes them to be homeless, or need medical assistance.

We need to focus, then, on what we can solve. We can't solve the problem of the meth head, the crack lady, or the young guys who just play bongos and groove from one adventure to another.
We can make a difference, however, to the mom with the small children who has skills to get a job but lacks the means to get started, or the man who worked at Amarr but now can't pay his bills but is trying to land another job.

We have to ask who are money is going to. We must get our priorities straight. Help the homeless from our community who are making an honest, consistant effort to improve their situation, first, second, and last until we can see real, positive results. We could, with the funds we have, see most of those results.

Instead, it is wasted on those who flood our community from the outside and/or chose to stay dependent on the bleeding hearts of our community.

I wish at least one city commission candidate would speak up on this issue with honesty.

Practicality 9 years, 1 month ago

nice post independent_rebel. I too have been frustrated with the homeless problem that has infected Lawrence. I also think that the resources that are designed to help the homeless in the community are stretched too thin by outsiders coming in to Lawrence. Times are tough, tough choices need to be made. It is all nice and good to want to help everybody, but it appears that it is an unrealistic goal. Especially when I get the sneaky suspicion that other towns are just solving their homeless problems by purchasing them a bus ticket and sending them to Lawrence.

Marion, if we bought all the "liberals" a one way ticket out of town, there would be about 841 people left in Lawrence and two professors teaching up at KU. I think we would need some stimulus money to afford it.

Practicality 9 years, 1 month ago

oneeye_wilbur (Anonymous) says…

"When is Lawrence going to buy bus tickets and give them away. There's a whole bunch of us in Eudora who need a ride back to Arkansas."

Now that was funny oneeye. Nice come back. Kudos to you sir.

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