Archive for Friday, January 30, 2009

How many homeless?

It isn’t easy to get a handle on the problem of homelessness in Lawrence.

January 30, 2009


There apparently were some uncomfortable moments during Wednesday’s count of homeless people in Douglas County.

Counting people who came to agencies that provide services for homeless people was relatively easy, but trying to find and count homeless people in other areas of town was more tricky. As one volunteer counter included in a Journal-World story about the count found out, you can’t always tell who’s homeless by looking at them.

The volunteer approached several people who, by their unkempt appearance, seemed like they might be homeless. In a number of instances, which probably were a little embarrassing for both parties, the people told the volunteer they were, indeed, not homeless.

The volunteer’s experience during the nationwide Point-in-time Homeless Count conducted Wednesday points to one of the problems with trying to serve the local homeless population. It’s hard to know even how many homeless people there are in Lawrence, let alone what services they need and how best to help people get on the path toward a more satisfying life.

Many well-intentioned people in Lawrence and Douglas County have tried to reach out to the homeless community. One effort that has received attention recently is the Family Promise program, which sought city approval to house homeless families in local churches and operate a day center for those families. After meeting with various delays and facing the prospect of families with children sleeping in their cars, the organizers decided to skip some process and move ahead with their effort without city approval.

They were doing what churches should do: helping those less fortunate. They were responding to a higher power than city regulators.

There are many people in Lawrence who want to help, so many, in fact, that some residents worry that Lawrence is attracting more than its share of homeless people. Groups that offer services to the homeless population are doing a better job now of coordinating their efforts and taking a more systematic approach to dealing with the varied needs of the homeless, but it’s still a difficult challenge.

Perhaps this week’s effort to get a more comprehensive count of the local homeless population will at least help quantify the issue of homelessness in Lawrence. With the nation’s current economic challenges, it’s a pretty safe bet that the problem of homelessness will get worse before it gets better.


budwhysir 9 years, 4 months ago

Dont judge a book by its cover? I think that is what this article is trying to say. However what it should say is "being homeless made easy, the American way" Our country is the best in the world, however we overlooked one thing. Many countries are filled with homeless with no way for the economy or job force to correct the problem. However here in the US, we have made it easy for a person to say, thats it I give up, I dont want to try. Taking into account the mentally and physically challenged, the homeless problem is not at all a problem but rather a way of life. With shelters and give outs with no real requirements or regulations, people are free to run the streets all day and check in to a warm shelter at night with no worries of self support. I say make it just like unemployment. You want to stay at a shelter great, heres a shower some clothes and a tie, see you at 5:00 bring back a sheet with 3 signatures saying you applied for a few jobs here and there. Cant find a job paying a decent wage, thats ok we have some housing with low rent costs you can start with. Take responsibility for what needs to be done. People have been given to many easy reasons for giving up and it just seems to be getting worse. For everyone who says there are no jobs out there right now, if you lost youre job, I bet you would be using the computer you are at to find a new one, or maybe you would simply pack everyone up and move under the bridge right away.

igby 9 years, 4 months ago

I bet they forgot to count the 35 or 40 thats in the DG. CO. jail.Look at the web site under inmates in jail. They have the who's who already locked up. Lol.

Emily Hampton 9 years, 4 months ago

actually, they did look at the jail. and i'm blown away by how many people think that the homeless choose to be that way. you think it's somehow easier to be homeless? do you wish you could just be "lazy" and live under a bridge? is that it? are you sitting at your computer wishing you could just ditch your heated home and food to live a plush life of cold and hunger? or live in an overcrowded shelter with other homeless people?briliant! i'm sure you're right.

supernik 9 years, 4 months ago

i agree with bud, well actually not all of it, just that the homeless should be encouraged/forced to look for jobs to change the situation. yeah finding jobs in our great economy is hard but they are out there - it seems like it would be helpful for them to be held acountable for themselves. show they dont want to be homeless anymore. i know it cant be easy to be homeless but i do believe a little more effort could be put forth, look at the classifieds here on there are plenty of jobs, i'm sure many of these individuals have some sort of skills that can be used in finding a job, if they have addiction issues (like the ones that urinated on the statue in the park while my children and i were checking out the train) they should be forced to get help.

tvc 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh, I thought this was a game like guess how many jellybeans are in the jar.

budwhysir 9 years, 4 months ago

malkasmama:Would you be saying that the homeless do NOT choose to live this way?? I would leave my warm house and computer for the bridge, if I had given up on life. Is it fair to make my problems yours?

Emily Hampton 9 years, 4 months ago

budwhysir,i have no idea what that even means. you WOULD live under a bridge if you'd given up on life? and you're saying that shouldn't be my problem? If another human being has given up on life, that IS my problem. because i could be that person tomorrow. I think it would be very sad if you gave up on life enough to live under a bridge. If you did that, I would hope i would feel compassion for you. not hate. do you have anyone in your life who's depressed? are you just really angry about that? not your problem, right? yeah, you tell em! it's all about you.

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