Archive for Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New homeless shelter may receive major funding boost, but its location remains unknown

July 29, 2009


Shelter comes closer to reality

Efforts to build a new homeless shelter in Lawrence received a big boost thanks to some federal funding. Enlarge video

Leaders of an effort to build a new homeless shelter in Lawrence are now closer to receiving a key piece of federal funding for the project. But they still haven’t found a new site to house the homeless.

Congressman Dennis Moore’s office confirmed that a request by the Lawrence Community Shelter for $200,000 in federal funding has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. Now it awaits approval by the U.S. Senate, where Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback is sponsoring the request.

“It is hard to estimate how important this would be because psychologically it is a huge boost, and of course, financially it is a huge boost,” said Loring Henderson, executive director of the Lawrence Community Shelter.

Henderson has estimated a new shelter could cost up to $3 million. Shelter leaders eventually plan to start a community fundraising campaign, and the $200,000 in federal funding could help get the effort rolling.

Henderson said he’s optimistic the funding will win approval in the Senate, where Brownback is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that plays a key role in setting the budget.

“I’m not an expert in this, but I’m told that it is highly unlikely that the funding will be deleted at this point,” Henderson said. “It could be reduced, but I think it is highly unlikely that it will be eliminated.”

Less certain is when Henderson will be able to announce that the shelter has identified a site it wants to move to from its current undersized facility at 10th and Kentucky streets.

In mid-June, shelter leaders said they expected to publicly announce a site within a month. But Henderson said Wednesday that the shelter’s board does not have a pending offer for any property.

“But that’s not to say that it won’t happen soon,” Henderson said. “I hope within the next couple of weeks we have something to say.”

Mayor Rob Chestnut said he’s become active in working with the shelter to find a new site. He said he believes any site will be out of downtown because there doesn’t appear to be property in downtown that is large enough to accommodate a 20,000-square-foot shelter and still be sufficiently far from residences.

In the meantime, the shelter is seeking approval from the city to make several improvements to the existing site at 944 Ky. that will increase the overnight capacity of the building from 31 people to about 82 people.

The shelter wants to add a fire sprinkler and a basement exit in order to accommodate an influx of people needing a space to stay after the Salvation Army closed its 42-bed shelter earlier this summer.

The shelter hopes the city commission approves those building changes and awards it about $50,000 in community development block grant funding that the city controls.

Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the project at their meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


50YearResident 8 years, 4 months ago

I hear there is a nice location available close to the river in North Topeka.

cowboy 8 years, 4 months ago

homeless have become Lawrences fastest growing industry. And the mayor is up to his neck in it , I trust he will recuse himself from any future votes , meetings , or consideration when spending public funds , or site approvals.

50YearResident 8 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence residents are expected to pony up $2,800,000 to match the $200,000 the government is providing! This only gets a building. What about operating expense, who is going to put up that and how much per month is that expected to be? How many homeless people is this going to provide for? Will it attrack another 100 or 200 people that will be running up and down Mass St. looking for handouts? This will be an on going never ending deal. I think it needs to come up for a vote just like the Library.

skinny 8 years, 4 months ago

Yup, I agree with 50YearResident, build it north of the river in Topeka.

Lawrence residents do not want a homeless shelter built in this fine city!

How about we put it to vote?????

Steve Jacob 8 years, 4 months ago

They will wait as long as possible to name an address.

mdrndgtl 8 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 4 months ago

I'd rather have a governor going off to screw a lusty Argentine seductress, than have a congressman screwing all of us!

so, the democrat controled congress thinks Lawrence should have a bigger magnet to attract out-of-town bums?


it is an absolute insult in the current limited homeless space that people with local ties or local history, people who are making good choices, people who are trying to go right, have to compete on an equal basis with drunks, criminals, drug abusers. says volumes about the current leadership of that organization.

they don't really want homeless to get out of their homeless lifestyle.

yeah I bet they're waiting to announce the next victim neighborhood. nice to see whereever it is its not downtown. homeless bums are a serious problem downtown now.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Please join me in a petition to Mayor Bloomberg of New York to send his homeless to Lawrence. Shame of Mayor B for considering the taxpayers. We are the helpers of the world, and we could really use more state and federal funds. Can't you just see it -- Lawrence could get off that "mean to homeless" list and actually become one of the most friendly to the downtrodden. Businesses are not attracted Lawrence because of the climate, so might as well fill up with entitlement delivery units.

Practicality 8 years, 4 months ago

NYC offers free airfare to homeless to leave city:

NEW YORK – New York City is buying one-way plane tickets for homeless families to leave the city.

It's part of a Bloomberg administration program to keep the homeless out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. More than 550 families have left the city since 2007. All it takes is for a relative to agree to take them in.

The city employs a travel agency for domestic travel and the Department of Homeless Services handles international travel.

City officials say there are no limits on where a family can be sent and families can reject the offer.

Families have been sent to 24 states and five continents, mostly to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

City officials say none of the relocated families have returned to city shelters.

Information from: The New York Times,

over_par 8 years, 4 months ago

We don't need plane tickets. We can load them all up in the emp T for a couple hundred in gas money. I don't care where this shelter goes, as long as its out of DG County.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

why would this cost $3million dollars? wth? aren't there some extremely large houses out on the west end of town for sale in the $500,000 range? we could by 6 of those that would easily house 15-20 people each. and they'd get to have pools.
Additionally, why don't we just build a bunch of steel buildings on concrete slabs.. $50-100,000 each. $3million dollars, what a waste of money.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 8 years, 4 months ago

"NIMBYism doesn't solve the problem"

If that's the case, are you willing to let the homeless move in with you?



(Crickets chirping)

Are you still there?

(Taps microphone)

Is this thing on??

MrCitizen 8 years, 4 months ago

While NIMBY may not solve the problem do you really think $3Million is the final cost? This creates a permanent situation that will continue to drain the city into the future.. more misc. operating expenses for the shelter, more police supervision, more staff, more health/social services, etc. etc. But hey, wtf, might as well as the city has an unlimited supply of money apparently... just look at all the unnecessary construction going on at LHS. While I may agree with so called liberals that a helping hand should be offered but how about some thought of paying the money back in some way rather than just take, take, take...

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 4 months ago

Obviously some posters see the homeless as not even human. They focus on the bad they see and refuse to see the good. I know they held monthly meetings at the Salvation Army where every shelter person was obligated to attend and rules were spelled out and people could ask questions. The fact that some still did not obey the rules should not have meant that everyone was kicked out. Some of us did all that we were asked to do. Some homeless, some, may simply not have the capability to understand or to change, or to live up to the rules set by others. But, they need help all the same. I don't have the answer to the long term homeless. Maybe there is no answer. Just do what you can when you can.

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