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Archive for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Churches cleared for shelter use

City Commissioners at their weekly meeting unanimously agreed to back off proposed regulations that would have required churches participating in the Family Promise program to comply with costly regulations.

February 25, 2009

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A new nonprofit program that serves homeless families with children won a key victory Tuesday at City Hall, which will allow the program to continue operating.

City Commissioners at their weekly meeting unanimously agreed to back off proposed regulations that would have required churches participating in the Family Promise program to comply with costly regulations.

“I think we’re making all this a little bit too hard,” City Commissioner Mike Amyx said of regulations that would have forced some churches to go through a permitting process and install thousands of dollars worth of fire sprinkler systems to temporarily house homeless families.

Representatives with Family Promise — a private, nonprofit group that uses a series of churches to house up to four homeless families — said the proposed fire code regulations likely would have forced the program to discontinue in Lawrence.

But the change in direction by City Hall could mean major changes for some neighborhoods in the future. At the suggestion of the city’s legal staff, commissioners also backed away from a provision that would have limited churches to creating temporary shelters that only served homeless families with children. City attorneys said that limitation may run afoul of the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws.

Instead, churches should be allowed to serve any type of homeless individuals that they choose, city attorneys said. The new regulations also would not require churches to receive any permits, approvals or other type of special permission from the city to operate as a homeless shelter, as long as the shelter use was temporary in nature and limited in size.

The new regulations would open the possibility of churches serving as temporary overflow shelters for the city’s full-time homeless shelters, although no churches have yet said they plan to do so.

What constitutes a temporary use and how many individuals a church shelter should be allowed to serve haven’t been determined. Commissioners want the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission to discuss that issue and make a recommendation later this spring.

“How we define that is clearly going to be important,” Mayor Mike Dever said.

Mark Bradford, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical chief, had urged commissioners to require the churches to comply with the city’s fire code and install sprinkler systems. But commissioners said they disagreed with Bradford’s interpretation of the code, and said the sprinklers would not be required.

In other business, commissioners:

• Agreed to submit to congressional leaders a variety of transit, road and stormwater projects for consideration for funding.

• Approved a rezoning at 2141 Maple Lane to allow for a new office building for Kansas Family & Children Foundation Inc.

Comments

50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

Participating Churches need to be absolutely sure what they are getting into before they start this project. It will require additional 24 hour staff with food service, bedding, cleaning and maintenance people. Kids running around during services will be very distracting. Transportation will be required for the homeless families to and from the church. Budgets will need to be revised to cover additional expenses. There are many negative factors to consider.

honestone 5 years, 10 months ago

"Instead, churches should be allowed to serve any type of homeless individuals that they choose, city attorneys said. The new regulations would open the possibility of churches serving as temporary overflow shelters for the city’s full-time homeless shelters, although no churches have yet said they plan to do so." Great...good job commish. We can have the homeless of all kinds wandering around our homes and neighborhoods.

fanofKU 5 years, 10 months ago

This idea of churches providing shelter, whether for families or not, is a very disturbing idea. Lawrence has organizations who have been willing, or are currently willing, to expand their facilities and programs to serve the homeless population. They know how to deal with the situations that arise, yet we gave the Salvation Army fits several years ago when they wanted to expand a very good program. No, they don't allow drunks in, but why should they? Will all of these churches allow them? Now you've got the Lawrence Community Shelter getting ready to expand somewhere, and do you think just ANY neighborhood is going to allow them in their backyard? I can assure you that won't happen! Yet, our city commissioners have approved homeless shelters ALL over town. This spells nothing but trouble!!! It's a coming!

geekin_topekan 5 years, 10 months ago

"It's coming!" +++ Its been here dumarse.You just havent seen it and that shall continue.It has been all around you for years. Again,the haters flock to the forums while the real world does the right thing ....again.

Yabut 5 years, 10 months ago

"Mark Bradford, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical chief, had urged commissioners to require the churches to comply with the city’s fire code and install sprinkler systems. But commissioners said they disagreed with Bradford’s interpretation of the code, and said the sprinklers would not be required."

Of course, because I'm sure our city commissioners know more about the fire code than the fire chief. Last time I looked, none of their resumes included any fire service administration studies or credentials. Why bother having department heads if you're not going to listen to them and seriously consider their expertise. After all, that's what you're paying them for!

somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

Gee, and guess what - according to the latest article in todays paper the Salvation Army is closing it's shelter. Imagine that after just a few days since this thing has passed.!!! Guess that since the churches have to allow anyone, they now have a whole lot more "customers".

KInd of makes ya go Hmmmmmmm

angela 5 years, 9 months ago

Where is the love for humanity?

If there were no social issues as homelessness we would not need programs like Family Promise, but unfortunately it's a painful truth we all must face. These "homeless" people that Family Promise will be helping very well could be or could have been a co-worker, a neighbor, a tenant. The idea behind Family Promise is to create community. It is a program focused on the children that are in the situation of homelessness. To be in the program you have to have children. For those who don't want the homeless people in your neighborhood need to open your eyes. They are already there. They are there sleeping in their cars in a Walmart parking lot, at rest stops, in the woods. What do you say to that child that is cold and hunger? Do you tell them they don't matter because you don't want "homeless" people in your neighborhood? Are you willing to raise them. This program is not run by your tax dollar. It is run by generous givers and Churches.

I pray that God opens your eyes and your heart. You need to get down in the trenches and see all the things you choose to ignore because it is so much easier.

das 5 years, 9 months ago

Here we go again....all my previous posts still stand true.....now to reiterate what I saw coming.....once again class.....geeez.....

We will see the city bending to the whims of a special interest group, fire code exemptions made, and all churches re-categorized as being able to be Type A Homeless Shelters. So let's just hasten the deterioration of the grand old neighborhoods from within. A true "neighborhood" is made up of people who know and care about each other as a small stable community. At least Family Promise introduced a social unit within the community (homeless families) - transient as it is. This is contrary to the Family Promise agreement as originally put forth and which had me at ease. It also puts forth double standards in regards to hotel/motel fire standards and those of a religious institution fulfilling basically the same role (length of stay and occupants relationship). Freedom of religious expression does not provide for freedom of manifestation of said beliefs...If I was a modern day Druid...would I be allowed to build a big bonfire in the yard and dance around? Standards are not "standards" if they continually change to suit whims or special interest groups (OF ANY KIND) or apply differently or not at all to certain subsets. In the meantime, the "real Christians" can step up and open their own homes to these people. It's fine and dandy to be outspoken when the consequences don't affect you personally. The church members really don't care about the neighborhoods -- just a warm fuzzy feeling from a token gesture to ensure their ticket on the heaven train. Christians - Show your mercy and compassion and open a shelter in your home...maybe some other "Weekend Christians" fill follow suit. Problem solved.

honestone 5 years, 9 months ago

It isn't about helping the little kids who are homeless...it is all about everyone else that this kind of thing brings in. Just sit at the corner of 12th and Kentucky and take a look at the droves of people you see. All kinds of people that would cause you to pull your children close to you.
Now, between this proposal and the closing of the SA, it will drive this ilk further into our neighborhoods. Not the neighborhoods around Hacks home or Devers home...our homes. The solution to these peoples problems are difficult and EXPENSIVE. Do we want to become more of a destination for bums? Is this the way we need to spend our resources? It isn't about the humanity...it is about the reality of life.

Ogden_michelle 5 years, 9 months ago

granted there are some people that are homeless, around there are real disturbing to be around especially with kids, that why kids are not allowed at the lawrence community shelter, that why they wanted to open the day time shelter for families with just children that way they could have some where warm and safe for THE CHILDREN to go to maybe be able to take nap when there too tired because they have been walking around all day because they have no where else to go or maybe they just wanted some place to go besides the library, but everyone in that community was against it. I'm sorry but you guys might be the home for the Kansas Jayhawks, but as for most you who criticize the homeless because of there wrongs, may be you should clean out you closet and then lets see how much dirt comes out, none of you what so ever have the write to say anything negative about anybody. cause when you do your no better except for you have a stable roof over your heads.

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