Archive for Sunday, January 11, 2009

Progress on assistance for homeless raises hopes

January 11, 2009


At a time when the numbers coming into Lawrence homeless shelters are rising fast, progress is being made on how to house them.

At least that was the message coming from Steve Ozark, volunteer coordinator for the InterFaith Initiative, who coordinated a town hall meeting on homelessness Saturday afternoon.

“I’m very proud and very excited to see what has been done in the last year,” Ozark said.

About 40 people attended the meeting Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H., and listened to organizers of homeless shelters and programs talk about new projects in the works. Those projects will help meet a plan the Lawrence City Commission approved last year to bring more than 200 housing units or shelter slots to Lawrence.

Some of the recent advancements:

• The Lawrence/Douglas County Housing Authority applying for a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help build 19 units of permanent supportive housing, and the Salvation Army applying for a HUD grant for 15 transitional units for homeless families and individuals.

• Area churches supporting the Family Promise program, which has churches hosting a homeless family and providing them shelter and food. The organization takes four families at a time and will house them for about 10 to 12 weeks.

• As part of the new Five Loaves/Home-Makers program, a renovated three-bedroom home is providing a place for those to stay who are mentally ill and homeless.

• Loring Henderson, director of Lawrence Community Shelter, 214 W. 10th St., said an announcement in the next few months will be made about a site location for a new and expanded shelter.

• The housing authority is hoping to launch a database that would match the homeless in search of temporary housing with landlords willing to loan out rental units.

“So much has happened in the past five years. So many new programs have started up,” Henderson said. “We as a community continue to get a grip on homelessness.”

But still the needs of the homeless are growing.

This fall, even before cold weather brought the traditional rise of homeless people into the shelters, Ozark said demand for slots was increasing.

Every night 13 to 20 people are turned away from the Lawrence Community Shelter, Henderson said. Some of those who don’t make the cut are given blankets and find doorways, niches or cars to sleep in.

“It is difficult,” Henderson said.

The group also discussed camping areas for the homeless. In late October, city crews cleared an extensive homeless camp from city property on the banks of the Kansas River. Two men had been found dead at the site.

Since then, homeless advocates have proposed creating a designated camping area. Camping on city park property is illegal.

“You can’t make it illegal to camp on public property if the shelters are full because basically you are making it illegal to not own property,” said David Tucker, who is the homeless outreach specialist for Bert Nash.


Steve Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

"Loring Henderson, director of Lawrence Community Shelter, 214 W. 10th St., said an announcement in the next few months will be made about a site location for a new and expanded shelter."A lot of neighborhood associations will be interested to hear about this.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 4 months ago

I am sure that David Tucker's heart is in the right place, because his brain sure isn't.It has always been illegal for anyone to camp in a city park. The law has nothing, get that David?, nothing to do with the homeless.I know that it is a bad thing when anyone is forced to sleep outside when the weather is bad. I have never done it, but it sounds like it would be really miserable. But, creating a law-free zone is not the way to solve the problem. Why are there so many homeless in Lawrence? I would like to see a graph that shows the number of women, the number of men, and the number of families.We need people who are working with their minds as well as their hearts to make a dent in this.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

"I would like to see a graph that shows the number of women,the number of men, and the number of families."Perhaps a pie chart would be more in order... humble pie.... ( ... just using you as a springboard, Cleo... nuthin' personal. )

geekin_topekan 9 years, 4 months ago

Leslie,I believe David was addressing the law from a human rights standpoint.Noone is suggesting that the ban on recreational camping in the city parks is bad policy.Take a pill.geez.But,where on the books does it say that all citizens of Lawrence must sleep indoors?If there is such a law than additional laws must be made regarding income guidelines for Lawrence citizens.Feel free to move to a gated community of you feel you are exclusive of an imperfect world.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

Waka1 - I would gladly give them free money - - in the form of a one way ticket out of here. I will not give money to the ones who simply refuse to work.And yes, it has already been illegal to camp in city parks. And there is no distiction between "recreational" camping or any other kind.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 4 months ago

tangential_reasoners_anonymous , don't fret it. I take a lot of pride in my springiness. I was just wondering if such a chart would show some kind of pattern, and if it did then something could be done.I am proud to be living in a country where citizens can get help when they need it. It is not perfect, some people slip though the cracks, some abuse the help they get. People don't get help because they "deserve" it because that word means something different to each and every one of us.The agencies that give out the aid cannot make decisions on whether or not they like the personality or looks of the one they are interviewing. They have very specific guidelines they must go by. And, they are audited to make sure they do.The good, the bad, and the ugly, if they meet the guidelines, they qualify.If someone knows someone who is abusing the system, breaking the rules, then they should report it to the proper authorities.Put up or shut up.

alm77 9 years, 4 months ago

cleo, transients are hard to count and harder to categorize. off, I know some advocates who have done and are doing that right now.

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