Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2009

Salvation Army to close homeless center

Agency to focus on new transitional housing service

Aaron Morrison, 12, from left, Deanna Morrison, 2, and Branyn Morrison, 9, children of Beverly Morrison, eat at The Salvation Army on Thursday.

Aaron Morrison, 12, from left, Deanna Morrison, 2, and Branyn Morrison, 9, children of Beverly Morrison, eat at The Salvation Army on Thursday.

February 26, 2009

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Overnight homeless shelter closing its doors

The Lawrence Salvation Army announced plans to shut down its overnight homeless shelter, and now community homeless leaders are scrambling. Enlarge video

Joe Hooks, 52, looks over his bunk Thursday at The Salvation Army, 946 N.H. The 42-bed shelter will close on May 1.

Joe Hooks, 52, looks over his bunk Thursday at The Salvation Army, 946 N.H. The 42-bed shelter will close on May 1.

Gary Wheatly, 40, lives and works at the Salvation Army, 945 New Hampshire.

Gary Wheatly, 40, lives and works at the Salvation Army, 945 New Hampshire.

The Salvation Army announced Thursday that it is closing its 42-bed homeless shelter on May 1, leaving the city with a single shelter that currently is operating at capacity.

Salvation Army leaders said they made the decision to close the shelter, which has been in operation since the 1980s, because the organization will begin providing a new service that places a limited number of homeless families or homeless individuals into apartments across the city.

“We think it is important to look at the big picture,” said Aaron Smith, director of community relations for The Salvation Army’s Lawrence operations. “We do not want to throw people out on the street. That is not what we’re doing. We don’t see it that way at all.

“We feel like this decision is knitted together with where the community is going.”

Smith said the new Salvation Army housing program would be a major addition to the city’s homeless services scene. The program would allow a single homeless family or homeless individual to stay in an apartment for up to 24 months while they receive case management services from The Salvation Army and other social service agencies.

But the new program won’t be large enough to house everyone who stays at The Salvation Army’s shelter. The program is expected to serve a total of either five homeless families or individuals.

Search for a site

Homeless service advocates said that means the race is now on to find a new site to expand the Lawrence Community Shelter.

That 31-bed shelter, at 10th and Kentucky streets, currently operates at capacity each night and frequently turns away people who are seeking a bed.

Loring Henderson, director of the Community Shelter, said he would immediately begin looking for a temporary overflow shelter site that could provide nighttime accommodations for up to 50 people.

“We’re doing some talking and some thinking now, but we see it as our responsibility to pick up the people who will be without emergency shelter,” said Henderson, who said he was supportive of The Salvation Army’s decision.

Henderson said he didn’t yet have a site in mind for an overflow shelter, which would operate in addition to the main shelter at 10th and Kentucky.

The Lawrence City Commission this week gave preliminary approval to a new set of zoning regulations that would allow churches to temporarily serve as homeless shelters. The new regulations would give churches an automatic right — meaning no city permit is needed — to house homeless people overnight as part of their ministry, as long as the sheltering operation is temporary in nature. The city hasn’t yet determined how to define temporary.

Henderson said he would explore the church possibility, but said it was too early to speculate where a temporary shelter site might be.

The Community Shelter also has been seeking a new permanent home that would allow it to serve upward of 100 people. Henderson said it was not realistic for the shelter to find a permanent home before the May 1 closing of The Salvation Army shelter.

Katherine Dinsdale, chair of the city-appointed Community Commission on Homelessness, said the community may have to consider temporary options that it finds uncomfortable. She said a variety of vacant stores and office buildings have the room to serve as a temporary shelter.

“There are lots of options out there that may not be acceptable in the long term, but this is a critical situation, and we need to make some temporary accommodations,” Dinsdale said. “Then, we need to use our discomfort to accelerate our plans to find a new home for the Community Shelter.”

Whether city government, however, will be in much of a position to help financially is uncertain. Mayor Mike Dever said he thought it was more likely that the private sector was going to have to step forward.

“The faith-based community has been stepping up here, and in most places that is the way it is,” Dever said. “This is not a good time for the city to try to find additional revenue to cover the vacancy that is going to be created.”

History of success

Wesley Dalberg, captain for The Salvation Army operations in Lawrence, said he was unsure how many individuals actually would be displaced by the closing. He said during the spring and summer, The Salvation Army shelter did not operate at capacity. Instead it normally housed about 25 to 30 people per night when the weather turned warmer. He expects some of those individuals to be housed as part of the new program or to find other housing arrangements.

But Dalberg said he’s convinced the new transitional housing program was a positive step forward for the community’s efforts to end homelessness.

Homeless service advocates generally agreed. Both Henderson and Dinsdale said The Salvation Army’s actions were in line with the strategy the city has adopted to serve the homeless.

In 2007, city commissioners adopted a “vision” for homeless services proposed by the Community Commission on Homelessness. That strategy called for the community to have just one emergency homeless shelter, but for the community to significantly increase the number of transitional housing units available in the city.

Dalberg said The Salvation Army originally envisioned the new housing program being larger than five units, but the organization was unsuccessful in winning a startup grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Despite the lack of a grant, Dalberg said The Salvation Army decided to move forward because the programs have proven successful elsewhere. He said major studies have shown that, on average, 75 percent of families who enter the program successfully move on to more permanent housing. The average length of stay in the program is about 14 months.

Salvation Army leaders said a big part of the success is that participants are taught necessary skills to succeed.

“It really is built around that philosophy of teach a man to fish,” Smith said.

The Salvation Army hasn’t yet identified apartments to use for the program. Smith said the organization would soon start approaching landlords. The goal, he said, is to have the apartment units scattered throughout the city.

The Salvation Army will continue to keep its offices and sanctuary in its longtime building at 946 N.H. The space used for the shelter will be converted back to a gymnasium, which will be host to youth programs run by The Salvation Army.

Comments

fearsadness14 6 years, 6 months ago

You know, I think a lot of the homeless in this town are way passed the "emergency" shelter point in their lives. This has turned into their own personal life, and it is now the way they live.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Great. Its about time the Army realized that building their ranks of "saved souls" by enticing the hapless and perpetual drunks and bums with a hot and a cot was a losing proposition. Sounds like they are headed in the right direction--helping people who are also willing to help themselves.

Looks like Loring Henderson now has a monopoly on the bum market. With this news, he's probably salivating and frothing at the mouth.

Easy 6 years, 6 months ago

Soon, Lawrence will have a designated camping area for the homeless then all will be right in the world.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Correction, logrithmic. I am leftwing. There is nothing noble or heroic about enabling drunks and bums when there are so many more pressing and worthy matters to deal with. You want to save a drunk? How bout you forget the drunk and find the courage to be involved in saving the world from the warmongers, war profiteers, and greedy millionaires.

Sigmund 6 years, 6 months ago

Bowhunter99 (Anonymous) says… "I think the 1100-1400 block of Prospect Avenue is a great place for the homeless to go and camp out… The people in that area love homeless… they're strong advocates and love to repeat themselves over and over…."

I completely agree it would be a "win-win" situation and makes dollars and sense/

50YearResident 6 years, 6 months ago

Free room and board for two years, spread them out over town to avoid a single high crime area. We can double or triple the number of homeless in no time at all.

Christine Anderson 6 years, 6 months ago

I don't find this funny. I do believe this was a difficult decision for The Army to make. I applaud their future plans to help folks get into apts. However, I am also very worried about those persons who will die of exposure for lack of shelter. If the "new" program can potentially help 5 families or individuals, that leaves 37 persons who used to be able to stay at the shelter out in the cold, literally.

Jim Phillips 6 years, 6 months ago

"logrithmic (Anonymous) says…

The rightwing - always quick to jump on the down and out and the neediest members of our society. Why do they hate America so much?"

You misunderstand. We love America. We loathe the United Socialist States of Amerika that is being crammed down our throats----for the moment.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

I thing this is very interesting. This is a philisophical flip for the SA. They'd rather do good work with half a dozen families than put up with the same group of broken men stabbing each other over drugs in their front yard every weekend.

The day they close that place, the downtown merchants and the cops will be buying up every bottle of champagne in town. There's going to be a party.

I hope they sell the building. The corner is very valuable.

Keep your eyes open for the "overflow" location. Totally a NIMBY issue for me!

Christine Anderson 6 years, 6 months ago

I like myopinionmatters's idea. Will The Army still be offering meals and church services? Yes, there are some persons who stay there who do avail themselves of "higher power" help.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

hey Guardian, its obvious Logrithmic needs his meds adjusted, very seriously adjusted.

of the two shelters, the Sally is the responsible one, and requires some responsibility from those who use it. I am sad to hear it is closing. it is too bad they don't have enough resources to do both, the shelter and the apartment program. the two certainly could compliment each other. and the Army has the better track record than the "open shelter" regarding their guests. personal preference: close the drunken/druggy shelter, put money to keep the Sally going with shelter and allow them to do the apartment program too. then, you'd see some of the bums here "self-deport" to other inclines. and those who are trying to turn their lives in the right direction would get the help more often.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

"Hey, why don't the homeless take part in building the Habitat Homes? If they put enough time in building it, they can get a house themselves. Or they could have Habitat Shelter. That has a nice ring to it."

That idea is beyond the level of functioning these men have. Show up... and WORK? Also, it's my understanding that most habitat homes require both work (many hours, sober) and a mortgage loan. Members of the Urine Squad aren't up to either of those requirements.

I've said this before, and I am sure history will prove me right: you give these men enough nights freezing in the cold, hungry and they will eventually wake up and say "I need to get sober". That's how you deal with them. That's not "hate", that's reality. Ask a former addict, and they'll agree. Addicts are motivated by pain. When the pain of being addicted overcomes the pain of no longer being medicated, they will move toward change. We SUPPORT addiction with the wet shelter policies we see in this town.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 6 months ago

Ever thought the Army is closing because the open shelter is taking away some of it's money?

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Log, I was registering black voters in the South in 1948, Almost got lyhched. Where were you?

greenworld 6 years, 6 months ago

This will not solve the problem and many homeless I imagine will stay close to downtown because it's the closest thing to the river which is another underground homeless area ran by the homeless and also downtown is a primary spot to still be able to panhandle.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

:I've said this before, and I am sure history will prove me right: you give these men enough nights freezing in the cold, hungry and they will eventually wake up and say “I need to get sober”. That's how you deal with them "

Well said, Oldenuf. Its been the mantra of addiction specialists for decades. Some addicts won't help themselves until they've jit bottom.

Makes sense to me.

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 6 months ago

Left wingers so fast to jump all over those right wingers.Oh, wings that sounds goooood!

cowboy 6 years, 6 months ago

Thats fine Salvation Army , the city will now withdraw the $41,000 planned for you in 2009 and further more your license to solicit donations in Lawrence is hereby cancelled. Have a nice day !

shirinisb 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the homeless just need ELECTROLITES

alm77 6 years, 6 months ago

old and sycho, I would agree with you except some people freeze to death rather than "hit rock bottom". I would say that if someone sleeping on a mat with several other homeless people hasn't hit rock bottom, then perhaps they never will. I say feed 'em and keep 'em from freezing, as well as give them help (real help, like a sober program or job resources, etc) but that's about it.

On the other hand, it's getting warmer out (well, it was anyway..) and they are less likely to die from exposure, so perhaps you're correct that not having a hot nor a cot might do someone some good right now.

das 6 years, 6 months ago

hawk -

You throw EDAR around like it's magic..... http://www.edar.org/ It's still a transient "tent" community. IT STILL NEEDS LAND and a willing environment. I proffer your front and back yards (I'll bet you have them). The EDAR unit is (to quote them)...."...a frame covered in canvas at night on the streets...". Sounds like the future to me - a cross between the river campgrounds that were leveled and a really horrible mobile canvas home park (minus the in-home plumbing, and electricity, and...). Go Team Solution!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

"I would agree with you except some people freeze to death rather than “hit rock bottom”. I would say that if someone sleeping on a mat with several other homeless people hasn't hit rock bottom, then perhaps they never will. I say feed 'em and keep 'em from freezing, as well as give them help"

That's just it: they ALL have help. Every homeless program and every shelter has resources for getting sober. They don't take advantage of those resources.

The sad truth is that some of them will freeze to death (get raped, stabbed, etc.) on their path toward "rock bottom". Death will get some before sobriety does. That's an unavoidable truth regardless of whether or not we have a shelter.

I fear the same that everyone else does, that men will simply die on the sidewalks. I worried about my own brother dying that way. It didn't change the fact that he needed to have some really bad %$&*@ happen in his life before he was going to take a path toward sobriety.

Our current approach has enabled addiction. We have supported addiction. We have encouraged addiction. All this is "indirect" support and encouragement, but it is encouragement non-the-less.

When a man's wife says "Get the #@*&^$ out of this house until you get sober!", he gets sober faster than if she just lets him remain the same. Lawrence needs a "Get the $%&^@ out of Lawrence or get sober!" mindset. I know from experience that this is how you fix these problems. Even the Bible says "if a man WON'T work, don't let him eat"

alm77 6 years, 6 months ago

" Death will get some before sobriety does. That's an unavoidable truth regardless of whether or not we have a shelter." Is it? I still think a shelter helps reduce those chances. I just want to keep people alive so they have the chance (especially when it takes a long, long time) to recover.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Closing the shelter eh. To open another one elsewhere is more likely.

Who bought the building is more like it?

Real estate executives have wanted the SA location out of their way. They seem to think homeless people will not congregate downtown if the shelter is gone. However every city has downtown homeless people. Homeless folks will migrate to downtown areas no matter where they sleep. Locking them up in the county jail is very expensive.

The overbuilding of multi family market/dwellings makes the opportunity just perfect.

One man on the Plaza is very clever. He strums a bit while his signs says " Down payment on a cheeseburger please"

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, I am over seventy, log, and thanks for your compliment. You should be congratulated, too.
There is a difference between the "old left" of which I was a proud member, and the new so-called new left liberals. The old left regarded drunks and bums as "lumpen proletariat" beyond salavation. From our prespective, it wasn't that we lacked compassion for a starving bum, but that with war, racism and fascism and abject exploitation in the world, we felt compelled to work with the folks capable of redemption.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 6 months ago

I think it is time we bring back work camps.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, Marion, the old left is not at odds with true conservatives on a number of issues. And I mean true conservatives, which are hard to find in the Republican party. I think you may be right in that we both have a marked contempt for "contemporary liberals" and their flippant, "feel good, do good attitude."

Most significantly, I abhor political correctness, and champion individual (and collective) responsiblity. I despise the current trend of categorizing everything with a right/left liberal/conservative approach and solution. Life is far more complicated than that.

Jim Phillips 6 years, 6 months ago

"Get used to it rightwinger. It's called Democracy!"

Wow! logrithmic, you really had some of us going with your pretend Liberal stuff. That rediculously funny comment just convinced me that you were really not so consumed with Bush-hate that you buried your head in the sand and refused to face reality. It's nice to know you really don't believe a government-run health care system, mandatory wealth distribution to make life fair, government run banks, and governmental control of corporate America is really Democracy. What a joker you are! Good job!

Meatwad 6 years, 6 months ago

Helping families is one thing, but giving a free ride to lazy or drug/alcohol addicted individuals is another. Lawrence does need to stop being a free ride to these people---we aren't helping them at all---we are only enabling them--- and Loring really needs to stop wanting to bring all of the homeless people in other states and cities to Lawrence.

Omegatron 6 years, 6 months ago

"Smith said the new Salvation Army housing program would be a major addition to the city’s homeless services scene. The program would allow a single homeless family or homeless individual to stay in an apartment for up to 24 months while they receive case management services from The Salvation Army and other social service agencies.

But the new program won’t be large enough to house everyone who stays at The Salvation Army’s shelter. The program is expected to serve a total of either five homeless families or individuals."

Not good enough. This program needs to be better. It needs to be modified so that the people staying there are assisted in finding jobs, saving money, and getting new housing all within a reasonable time frame. Months instead of years.

With those who don't want to take advantage of the opportunity to get back on their feet being turned away so that others can.

Need to set up the shelters with those types of goals in mind. We'll give you a place to stay as long as you take the job we help you get, save money, and after a certain amount of find a place to stay thus no longer be homeless.

The community also needs to do a better job luring employers here so that there are jobs for people to get, so that when people get laid off from one company, another can absorb those people instead of those people becoming just another homeless statistic.

texasgal 6 years, 6 months ago

I myself know quite of few of the ones that are trying to get their lives back on track. Yes i have to agree that there are ones that dont want to do this. But then again What about the ones that have jobs and get welfare that keep staying at these shelters? I think if they have the job and all then they shouldnt get to stay at these places when they are using it for a crutch. Quite a few of them do this so they have their booze and drug money. Yes i have recently moved from Lawrence. Come on ya something needs to be done here. I could keep on about this but i wont because nothing will probably get done that needs to be done.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

"I think it is time we bring back work camps."

Agreed, but I'm sure there's something "unethical" about refusing to give people a handout for nothing. If we did something like this... people would go nuts.

"The community also needs to do a better job luring employers here so that there are jobs for people to get, so that when people get laid off from one company, another can absorb those people instead of those people becoming just another homeless statistic."

That's helpful talk for those who are looking for work and stability. That's not helpful for the ones who have learned dependencies and cannot function beyond the rolling of a joint or the unrolling of a condom.

The "system" that's in place has turned men into children. Some of these men have been more harmed than helped by the myriad of services that have never expected anything from them.

Let me clarify one thing: I'm talking about adult, single grown drunk men. Frankly, if the city wanted to establish a shelter for families only, I'd put up the sales taxes for that. But these barfing, drunk pissers need to go away or get sober.

Christine Anderson 6 years, 6 months ago

My ex-husband stayed at the shelter from last Sept. until the first week of May. He was one of those "cheaters" who worked at Vangent for the last four months he lived at the shelter. Yep, he was making $14 an hour, and staying there making that kind of money for four months! He later bragged that by doing that, he was able to pay off all his debts, and "clean up his credit". That doesn't change the fact that I'm worried about those who will have nowhere else to go, and are not making money that they could get a room with.

alm77 6 years, 6 months ago

autie, everyone here is in favor of helping families. Those kids are adorable and deserve a place to call their own. It's the single individuals we all have a hard time feeling for. My husband works 45 hours a week at an average American wage (look that up) and feeds, clothes, houses and insures our family of five (in Lawrence!). We're not on any government assistance. So, if he can do it, singlehandedly, for the 5 of us, why can't a single individual with no kids in tow? How do you help the crazies and lazies that aren't helping themselves? The only answer I've come up with is to keep them alive long enough to figure it out.

alm77 6 years, 6 months ago

benny, yeah, I do know about them. I've helped at the wet shelter. I've been involved with other programs and I've had people live with me in my home who would have otherwise been homeless (on more than one occasion). I didn't "label" anyone. I stated that there are those who can and should be helped and those who can't because they either won't take their meds (crazies) or won't work (lazies). I also didn't say there shouldn't be programs. Did you read any of my previous comments or just the last one?

pace 6 years, 6 months ago

It will be nice to have the church back. I remember the fundraising to build the new gym for the youth and then the city asked SA to help with the homeless. The Salvation Army has gotten a lot of criticism for the work they do, because they don't do it to meet the needs of downtown, the ignorant or the hate mongers. Their goal is to help people who need help. Good luck to them and their new plan. We as a community should be supportive. We should also thank the church members who have shared their church with so many people for so long.

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 6 months ago

At 1:50, hawkperchedatriverfront repeated "With socialism you eventually run out of other people's money. Margaret Thatcher"

Which is a clever enough quote, but appears to be apocryphal. I can find no source where she actually said or wrote that. Although it seems to have become very popular over the blogosphere in the last 3-4 months.

greenworld 6 years, 6 months ago

Homeless= No home Unemployed and homeless= No money and no home No money and no home=worthless

These people our a failure not to themselves but rather to the system. See if the system is broken then everything around it trying to maintain a normal life becomes non-existant and worthless. I think Simon is the only one that has it figured out. Let's see he has been arrested dozens of times and has figured out that the free room and board, food at the jail is better than the shelters.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

When services for the homeless do a better job of filtering out the abusers, ordinary people will be more supportive of homeless programs. No one with a human heart wants children on the street.

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