Archive for Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Homeless population difficult to count

Agencies conduct annual point-in-time population count

David Tucker walks along the along the Kansas River, trying to ID people who might be living out in the cold. A study released Wednesday said the homeless population of Kansas was shrinking.

David Tucker walks along the along the Kansas River, trying to ID people who might be living out in the cold. A study released Wednesday said the homeless population of Kansas was shrinking.

January 28, 2009

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County now included in survey

Volunteers across Kansas attempted to count the state's homeless population in just one day. Enlarge video





Yearly data

These numbers are for homeless counts within the city of Lawrence. There were no counts in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

2001 — 1342002 — 632005 — 1122007 — 3732008 — 318

Source: City of Lawrence

Lawrence resident Peter Steimle spent his Wednesday morning performing a highly unusual task. As part of the nationwide Point-in-time Homeless Count, Steimle’s job was to walk through downtown Lawrence trying to find and interview homeless people.

Steimle did his best to look for people with an unkempt appearance — what he thought were characteristics of the homeless. He introduced himself to several people he thought were homeless and, after explaining what he was doing, was met with some uncomfortable smiles from people who explained they were not, in fact, homeless.

“You can’t tell a homeless person by looking at them,” said Steimle, who was one of about 20 volunteers conducting the survey Wednesday.

Steimle’s experience highlighted some of the difficulty in identifying and counting all the homeless in the county. While some homeless people can be found at local social service agencies, an untold number of others sleep in hidden places in the community.

“The challenge is reaching those not in shelters,” said Erika Dvorske, director of the United Way of Douglas County, which coordinated the count.

Results from the count, mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be used in part to calculate how much funding the area receives for homeless services, she said.

Brad Cook, a homeless outreach worker from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, was assigned the task of finding some of the more difficult to locate homeless population. Cook and fellow Bert Nash employee David Tucker canvassed woods along the Kansas River.

While they didn’t find any campers in the woods, they found evidence — small tents and a destroyed makeshift teepee — that people had recently camped in the area.

“If they know it’s for the government, they can be paranoid about it,” said Cook of the homeless population’s reaction to the count.

This year’s count is the first looking at all of Douglas County, while previous years’ counts centered only on Lawrence.

Results have increased sharply since the first count in 2001, when 134 homeless were identified. In 2007, the city counted 373 homeless. Last year, the number dipped to 318.

Margene Swarts, the city’s assistant director of program and development services, cautions that the numbers may have fluctuated, in part, because of different counting methods.

“It’s not apples to apples,” Swarts said.

While the accuracy of Wednesday’s count, which will not be available for several months, can be debated, the experience opened Steimle’s eyes to the need for increased services for homeless people.

“I’ve seen the need that’s so big that I want to help,” he said.

Comments

Bassetlover 6 years, 6 months ago

Shaun, Shaun, Shaun......It's Peter Steimle, not Steimly.

ghostofrealityspeaks 6 years, 6 months ago

What a worthless way to spend resources including city employees time.

Boeing 6 years, 6 months ago

Note to people who were mistaken as homeless: this is a sign you need to 1) take a shower, 2) get a haircut, and 3) buy some new clothes (Goodwill is not new)

Emily Hampton 6 years, 6 months ago

righthanded, and you choose to live in the dark with no compassion, soul, or clue. you could be homeless tomorrow. i'd like to right hand you.

KansasGirl82 6 years, 6 months ago

Not everyone can afford new clothes. Just because they look homeless doesnt mean they have not taken a shower, or need a haircut. Maybe they just got off work doing trash pick up or something. The rich/well off people are to quick to judge until they soon may fall in the shoes of a homeless person. One day you may just wake up to find you may be living just like them, the way the economy is going right now.

q_ball2kand1 6 years, 6 months ago

The effort involved in the building of the stick shanty makes me think that there may be people out there that don't want to be bothered, and won't want to be included in this survey. How much effort will be involved in trying to track them down and provide aid they likely won't use?---------------------------------------------"The challenge is reaching those not in shelters,” said Erika Dvorske"Results from the count, will be used in part to calculate how much funding the area receives for homeless services""While they didn’t find any campers in the woods, they found evidence — small tents and a destroyed makeshift teepee"“If they know it’s for the government, they can be paranoid about it,” said Cook

mom2boy 6 years, 6 months ago

They didn't count the people that are staying in a hotel. That is still homeless. WE are staying in a hotel its hard to find a landlord that will rent to people with bad creidit in this town. We had some hard times but have jobs and are trying to get a place but haven't found one yet .It's been a year paying all those credit reports and you tell them it's bad but thye want the money then tell you sorry we can't rent to you but yet there are a lot of apartments empty so be it money hungury landlords in a college town.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 6 months ago

"Homeless population difficult to count"... perhaps because, in the eyes and minds of so many, they don't count.It is only with the heart--that sentinel tallying our moments—that one can count rightly.

OlderThanMud 6 years, 6 months ago

Boeing (Anonymous) says… Note to people who were mistaken as homeless: this is a sign you need to 1) take a shower, 2) get a haircut, and 3) buy some new clothes (Goodwill is not new)KansasGirl82 (Anonymous) says… Not everyone can afford new clothes. Just because they look homeless doesnt mean they have not taken a shower, or need a haircut. Maybe they just got off work doing trash pick up or something. The rich/well off people are to quick to judge until they soon may fall in the shoes of a homeless person. One day you may just wake up to find you may be living just like them, the way the economy is going right now.************KansasGirl82, I'm with you on this one. Boeing should try to walk in the shoes of another. It's obvious he (or she) has never been hungry or cold, and wouldn't know what to do if he/she was. To Boeing: If you think you're perfect, try walking on water without sinking!

Chris Ogle 6 years, 6 months ago

Homeless population difficult to count.....Now you know how they feel, counting us. “If they know it’s for the government, they can be paranoid about it,” said CookDoes that make me homeless too?

kmat 6 years, 6 months ago

I will post this again. Those of you that are so negative towards anyone in need better not be calling yourselves Christians.Remember, Jesus was homeless too.“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” John 3:17-18“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. Matthew 25:35”“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” Proverbs 28:27“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.” Deuteronomy 15:7”That's just a drop in the bucket. I am no longer a practicing Christian, but even I know the basic scriptures. Come on people! How have you gotten so cold hearted? It's disgusting.

KSChick1 6 years, 6 months ago

kmat if you're not a practicing christian than why are you spouting that crap? I don't feel the need to live my life by what the bible says. It's just another book to me, and it's actually useless in my opinion! I'd get more from a book about art or history or whatever, than I would from the bible.You need to get your mind around the fact that especially because you're NOT a christian, you don't have to read or pass on scriptures to other non-interested parties.If somebody wants to help the homeless, they can want to do that out of the goodness of their own heart, and not because some book told them so.

Calliope877 6 years, 6 months ago

I can't imagine sleeping in a place like that, especially considering how frickin' cold it's been! :(

Calliope877 6 years, 6 months ago

q_ball2kand1 (Anonymous) says… "Hahaha. Look at that bum fort!"Why do you find that funny? Just curious...

del888 6 years, 6 months ago

Homeless population difficult to count??Seems like counting them would be easy. FINDING them is the difficult part.

spankyandcranky 6 years, 6 months ago

It amazes me how thoughtless some people are that comment here. If I were homeless and accessing a computer at the library, I might try to figure out some identities from this comment page, locate the dwellings of the rude people, and use their homes for a burning blaze to warm my frozen bones with. Come to think of it, I hope they DID check at the library, and other places that offer heat for no charge to the general public -- that's where I'd be if I were in that situation at this time of year. I'm curious to see the number of homeless located in our immediate community and how they propose to inform them of the aid available.

Sigmund 6 years, 6 months ago

Sigmund (Anonymous) says…kmat (Anonymous) says… “I will post again to remind all your so called Christians what you are supposed to practice. Don't call yourself a Christian if you're bashing on the homeless.”Where is the quote saying, “Verily I say to you, take the property of others and give it to those who will not help themselves.” Where is the quote that says, “Increase taxes on others and give it to those who do not work.”The quotes of Jesus Christ you provided calls for individual responsibility of individual Christians to act themselves as a part of their faith, not to push that responsibility by force of government and politics on to others who may or may not be Christians.This Marxist deconstruction of the gospel, often by non-believers, to push a social agenda using religion doesn't pass any serious scrutiny. If you want to follow Christ, then do so and do the giving yourself. If you are not a follower then don't try and pervert the message. Are you willing to impose all Christian believes upon society or just those that fit your agenda?

wysiwyg69 6 years, 6 months ago

nice log cabin, better than some in the Rockies

MIke Mallory 6 years, 6 months ago

I have employed several of the homeless, most come to work broke everyday even after making $60 the day before, but there are a couple who have gotten off the streets and gotten a home and are working very hard to take care of themselves. I do wonder why you would try and get a count on the homeless in the middle of winter, your count will at least double come april. and into the summer. feel sorry for some of these people but not all!!!!

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 6 months ago

I have talked to some to these "homeless" folks and they don't want to change their lifestyle, they just a handout for alcohol or whatever. I wouldn't doubt many live this way because of mental illness or worst because they are trying to avoid the law. Help the folks who want help. Sad situation.

H_Lecter 6 years, 6 months ago

I love a good bonfire...say, that wood makes a screaming sound when it burns.

dontcallmedan 6 years, 6 months ago

lecter-I'm calling Jodie Foster-or Hinkley, or Mark David Chapman. Better run and hide.

riverdrifter 6 years, 6 months ago

What jumpin_catfish said. You've got to be tougher than nails and stubborn as hell to live a winter outside here. There are camps scattered up and down the river. We had a bunch of duck and goose decoys hidden near the Maple Hill bridge in November and caught a guy who was camped near there trying to steal them with the plan to sell them for $$. We gave him $40 to keep them at his camp and keep an eye on them. It was worth it, we figured. He did just that. We found them New Years day right where they belonged with a scribbled note that he "was off to AK". After some study, we figured out that he wrote AR. Much better.

altarego 6 years, 6 months ago

I guess it's been said, but still."Results from the count, mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be used in part to calculate how much funding the area receives for homeless services"So we're looking under rocks for people that don't want to be counted and probably won't use the funded services.Anyway, mom2boy, keep it twixt the ditches. I've been there and I worked my way back. So will you.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

kmat:You are right, AND the Apostle Paul wrote "if a man won't work, don't let him eat". Both are true.

Meatwad 6 years, 6 months ago

I totally agree with Lionbacker. SOME of these people genuinely are down on their luck and want to get back on their feet. BUT far too many just want to do their drugs and have everything taken care of (housing, food, etc). They make $60 and are broke the next day. Do you really have to wonder where that money went? If so you are very naive.

igby 6 years, 6 months ago

Check the jail they have about 30 or more of them in jail that are usually seen downtown on the street. "Dg. Co. Sheriff inmates in jail".

igby 6 years, 6 months ago

Didn't the Sodomites and Gomorians treat strangers cruelly by giving them lots of money then forbidding anyone from selling or giving them food under fear of death if anyone helped them? They also gang raped them first and took all their belonging from them them gave them silver and gold but no one could sell them bread or they would be killed.The stranger was left to starve in the street a wealthy man or woman. Hazed by these Sodomites was a stranger, and Lot's daughter smuggled him bread daily until the judges could not understand why this stranger was not dead yet. They thought he was a magician and had men watch him day and night. When they discovered that Lot's daughter was smuggling the stranger bread they captured her and beat her and burned her at the stake. Lot in anger took her burnt bones and cast a spell on them and had God rain fire down on these two cities and kill everyone who lived there. All had marks on the gold and silver so at the strangers death they could come and get their money back. Anyway: How can a person work if you take all his belongings so that he does not need any except his person. Rape his mind with a continued stay of food and shelter for a stay and then give him coin daily but he never buys bread, he does not need it, so he spends it on drugs and liquor because he has no need of nothing. But he remains homeless year after year, dying a slow death. Is this as cruel and the Sodomites and it satisfies the givers heart with joy, a kinder way but still just the same. Tax the people and kill them well because their a icon and a symbol of our false hearts. Lol.Reference: The Book of Asher, it's not in the bible.

Cristy White 6 years, 6 months ago

I would like to state for the record that I myself was homeless a time or two and have had the opportunity to see the streets as my home here in Lawrence due to matters of circumstance that I had no control over and being homeless in Douglas Count sucks. Although Lawrence offers a homeless shelter that is supposed to be a sober environment the point still remains that Lawrence enables people to remain homeless as it does not give people U.A.s preventing them from entering the shelter if they are under the influence of drugs which promotes many homeless to remain that way as drug addicts have no fear they will have reprecussions for their actions. There would be allot less homeless in Douglas County if it became mandatory that in order to get services U.A. tests must be done daily and if you failed you could not get shelter forcing allot of homeless to seek drug treatment programs that will teach them the skill of maintaining sobriety and help them reintergrate into society by providing transitional housing after ward.

budwhysir 6 years, 6 months ago

If they have a certain place they go every night, like a tent or log cabin or a special spot under the bridge, and they have lived there for more than a day or two, do we call them homeless, or would we be more politicaly correct to say "the housing challenged".

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