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Archive for Wednesday, May 6, 2009

City takes a pass on homeless campsite

Plans for a city-operated homeless site in Lawrence were doused on Tuesday night.

May 6, 2009

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Plans for a city-sanctioned homeless camp in Lawrence were doused by city commissioners Tuesday night.

At their weekly meeting, commissioners unanimously agreed that creating a camp for up to 50 homeless people either in Burcham Park or in a remote area of east Lawrence wasn’t the solution to the city’s shortage of shelter space.

“I feel like we would be taking a step backward,” said City Commissioner Mike Dever.

Instead, commissioners said they wanted to focus the city’s time and resources on finding a new permanent home for the Lawrence Community Shelter, so that it could expand.

Homeless service advocates said they support an expansion of the shelter as well, but said the city needed to take action in the meantime because there are a number of homeless people who have no place where they can legally sleep at night. The city has an ordinance that generally makes it illegal to camp in many public places.

“I do agree that this is not the ideal situation,” said David Tucker, a homeless outreach specialist with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, who proposed the plan. “But it is an idea. I have heard very few other ideas from people. Homelessness is an issue that is going to require compassion and a lot of patience.”

The proposal did draw opposition from leaders of both the Pinckney and East Lawrence neighborhood associations, which are adjacent to the two sites proposed for the campground.

“This would be like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg,” said Steve Braswell, president of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association. “We have to get on board and figure out how to get the Community Shelter improved because this is not the right way to deal with this.”

The leadership of the Lawrence Community Shelter — which turns away about 15 people per night — supported the campsite idea.

“It is just based on practicality,” said Loring Henderson, executive director of the downtown shelter at 10th and Kentucky streets. “There just isn’t a place for people to sleep — and they have to sleep — when the shelter is full.”

Commissioners said they hope to be able to consider a proposal for a new location for an expanded shelter sometime this year. Henderson said his group is working to find a site, but didn’t have any new information to report.

Comments

Boeing 5 years, 7 months ago

At least the commissioners can use their brains once in a while! Thank gosh, that would have been a disaster. I grew up near Ontario, California and know a lot about the troubles associated with the plan in question - it's a slippery slope that gets really slippery really quick.

skinny 5 years, 7 months ago

Thank God!

We have enough problems with the homless people around this town already.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 7 months ago

It aint over until the fat lady sings. This issue will come back again..... just wait and see.

average 5 years, 7 months ago

As I recall, the city/county poor farm used to be on the south banks of the Wakarusa, on the east side of the Santa Fe tracks to Baldwin (half a mile east of Haskell Street). The city of Lawrence still owns about 500 acres of that area. Seems like a possible location?

Lenette Hamm 5 years, 7 months ago

My word... they DO have brains at times!!!

Jean1183 5 years, 7 months ago

Good decision. Thank you, Commissioners.

MrCitizen 5 years, 7 months ago

Red devil - nice way to pass the buck. Got any "constructive ideas" instead? While I agree that having the city "sanction" a camp would lead to myriad problems (e.g., drug abuse, drinking, violence, littering, vandalism, etc.) and is probably not a great idea, the fact is that when the weather is nice the homeless will camp out regardless.

gccs14r 5 years, 7 months ago

The problem is figuring out how to help our homeless without becoming a magnet for everyone else's homeless. The bigger the shelter becomes, the more folks who will migrate here to fill it. There will always be more demand than there is capacity.

The shelter should be set up to help women and families. Single men should get bed space only on an as-available basis.

lawthing 5 years, 7 months ago

Set up a shuttle bus for the homeless to go camp at Clinton lake.

Volunteers could take donations to a drop off area out there. They could build fires and pitch tents..

It would be like brokeback mountain!

kmat 5 years, 7 months ago

You don't like them camping at the river, get used to them sleeping in the parks, downtown, etc... Too bad if you want to have a nice lunch at the park. You'll have to fight for that park bench now.

nekansan 5 years, 7 months ago

"The shelter should be set up to help women and families. Single men should get bed space only on an as-available basis."

I'm not a supporter of the camp site idea at all, but this has to be one of the most ignorant comment's I've ever seen. Either you believe in helping people or you don't. Why are men any less deserving of shelter than women?

KansasPerson 5 years, 7 months ago

kmat (Anonymous) says…

"You don't like them camping at the river, get used to them sleeping in the parks, downtown, etc… Too bad if you want to have a nice lunch at the park. You'll have to fight for that park bench now."

But kmat, this has been going on for years. Are you saying that a No vote on the tent city is going to increase the homeless in the parks more than it already is?

kmat 5 years, 7 months ago

Everyone bitches non stop about the homeless in Lawrence, but no one ever wants to do a thing to attempt to help them. I was just pointing out that you bitch because they're downtown, you bitch because they're in the parks. You're given an option that many other cities use to provide a place for them to be and you bitch about that.

I think most of you just like to bitch about the homeless because you like to bitch. You don't want any solutions, you just want to bitch.

bd 5 years, 7 months ago

I like the one way bus ticket to Denver idea!

Bladerunner 5 years, 7 months ago

Build it for 50 and there would be 500 in no time! If you build it...they will come!

50YearResident 5 years, 7 months ago

It is just like a Motel with a Vacancy/No Vacancy sign. If the sign says Vacancy, People (Homeless) will come. If the sign says No Vacancy then they (Homeless) will move on. It is simple as that. I hope Lawrence keeps the No Vacancy sign lit up with the brightest bulbs they can find.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 7 months ago

"kmat (Anonymous) says… Everyone bitches non stop about the homeless in Lawrence, but no one ever wants to do a thing to attempt to help them. I was just pointing out that you bitch because they're downtown, you bitch because they're in the parks. You're given an option that many other cities use to provide a place for them to be and you bitch about that."

Sure - the solution is to ask them nicely to move along and then move them along. Once word gets out that Lawrence isn't a fun place, the problem will be resolved. Ever notice how one never sees a homeless problem in the parks in Johnson County? It's because "living" in a park in Leawood would be a decidedly unpleasant experience.

igby 5 years, 7 months ago

The city should still clean up the river bank from the bridge on the south side-too the old water conduit north and connect these two parks with a walking trail. Having some camping or tables along the way with some lighting and fresh water.

The south bank east of the riverfront mall should be cleaned up as well.

nogoodguy1us 5 years, 7 months ago

As everybody in the Lawrence community should know and understand that this is a problem/issue that is not going away.  In the republican era, so much of the federally funded programs like mental health and social services have been cut, this is like throwing gas on the fire.        
 The cuts in the mental health area means lack of medication for those who require medication are now in the homeless category, they are overcrowding our jails, prisons, and mental institutions.  Those of you in the middle, upper-middle, and upper class in our society should understand how important medications are while you medicate yourselves and your children to deal with your own depression, anxiety, and stress but just have the money or insurance to pay for it.  
 The cuts in the social service area leaves so many agencies understaffed and underfunded to handle the overwhelming number of homeless people in this community.  Another thing about those of you who look down upon and criticize the homeless, with all the home forclosures during republican reign of terror, those of you who have had their homes forclosed are technically homeless.     
 In another way to put this misunderstanding of being homeless I know that many mortgages are less than or equal to renting a 2 bedroom apartment here in Lawrence.  Some may have noticed these days that many families are doubling up in renting homes.  The landlord organization of Lawrence who bicker about why around 13% of their units remain unrented don't seem to understand that although this is a college town, not all of us are rich college kids whose parents have the money to pay for everything.
 Many of those who have now had their homes taken away from them and are technically homeless, a few years ago were probably bad mouthing and criticizing the homeless.  Just like a bullet, homelessness and poverty don't have no name on it, don't care what color or race you are, and it damn sure don't care about how much money you were making and where you were a few years ago.  Think about that

average 5 years, 7 months ago

Glock - You lead a sheltered life if you don't think there are any homeless people living in Leawood. The sleeping bags under bridges along the Tomahawk Creek Park say differently. They have fewer, percentage-wise, mostly because there isn't a whole lot of pedestrian traffic to beg from, compared to downtown KC, Westport, Plaza, or Mass Street.

cj123 5 years, 7 months ago

it's funny to watch the homeless people stand outside the homeless shelter all day! guess it is easier to stand there than actually do something!! i know a woman who is presently living at the shelter (she has a job), and she thinks most of the homeless are lazy people who do not want to live better.

jumpin_catfish 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey waka made the post today. No hate dude just reality, you should try it sometime.

yankeelady 5 years, 7 months ago

I believe most of the funding for state hospitals and mental health problems disappeared in the Reagan years. Those programs are always the first to go. There were supposed to be community based programs to help those people. It never happened because the funding wasn't available. Now in this economic downturn the problem is even worse and there are no safety nets to help.

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 7 months ago

Is it the homeless who don't want to camp at the lake, or is it the users of the lake who don't want the homeless there?

It's a nice campground with showers and toilets, and lots of space (1500 acres) to just hang out or whatever. I think you can stay there for 30 days at a time.

Rather than the city "reinventing the wheel" by providing a campground, why don't we encourage the use of a campground that's far nicer (and larger) than what the city could create?

Strontius 5 years, 7 months ago

Can Lawrence's many, MANY churches not act as homeless shelters?

Seems to me like there's plenty of space. All that's missing is the private Christian charity to back it up.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 months ago

Waka, not everyone in Lawrence hate the homeless. I have been there and gotten out, but it was long and it was hard. It didn't happen overnight. There were times when I appeared to be doing nothing. I feel for every homeless person in Lawrence, and when the weather turns bad I worry. I know what it is like to have our world shrink down to just wanting to be warm and dry and fed. Things will get better for you Waka, just keep on trying and remember there are those who do care about you. I know it's hard, but try not to let the posters get you down.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 7 months ago

"average (Anonymous) says… Glock - You lead a sheltered life if you don't think there are any homeless people living in Leawood."

I didn't say that there aren't any homeless people, I said that being homeless in Leawood would be unpleasant. Read my post. My point is if homeless folks started begging for change out at 119th and Nall or hitting up old women for money at Corinth Square that there wouldn't be a debate about creating a sanctioned camping site.

somebodynew 5 years, 7 months ago

hipper_than_hip- "Is it the homeless who don't want to camp at the lake, or is it the users of the lake who don't want the homeless there?"

Well, just me thinking, it is probably both. The homeless do not want to be taken away from the close access to downtown and all the opportunities is offers. And yes, let's hear the standard "do gooder" reply, that all of their services are in the city. The only services most of these people want are the free food and chance to harass people.

So, in this town, if you would move the camp to Clinton a couple of things would happen. The city would be pressured to provide transportation back and forth ($$$), and not many would actually go and stay there.

So, overall, not a feasible solution.

dweezil222 5 years, 7 months ago

“The shelter should be set up to help women and families. Single men should get bed space only on an as-available basis.”

==============================

If it's government funded, there's not a chance in hell that would pass equal protection review.

Haiku_Cuckoo 5 years, 7 months ago

"Can Lawrence's many, MANY churches not act as homeless shelters?

Seems to me like there's plenty of space. All that's missing is the private Christian charity to back it up."

It's already in the works (see link below), so apparently the private Christian charity isn't lacking. That having been said, when will the homeless advocates bring these people into their own homes or allow them to camp on their property? If you look in the white pages you'll see that this town's homeless advocates live nowhere near any of their proposed sites for a homeless shelter. No surprise there, really.

50YearResident 5 years, 7 months ago

I am glad someone made out of being homeless. Look for the key word in this quote and you can tell what the real problem is. " I know what it is like to have our world shrink down to just wanting to be warm and dry and fed".

monkeywrench1969 5 years, 7 months ago

How about everyone who thinks creating a camp site for homeless overflow, take two homeless people into their home until they can find a permanent place to stay. I am sure they will look very hard and they won't be too much trouble,

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

relieved!

there's already too much trouble with homeless in this community. there's already too much promoting homeless destroying themselves.

too often I'm perceived as an "easy mark" by them downtown.

good start by the commission.

honestly, the concentration and attraction of such a population by the open [drunken/druggy] shelter has soured many in lawrence who otherwise might have had more desire to help.

honestone 5 years, 7 months ago

LJW says, "Homeless service advocates said they support an expansion of the shelter as well, but said the city needed to take action in the meantime because there are a number of homeless people who have no place where they can legally sleep at night. The city has an ordinance that generally makes it illegal to camp in many public places" My question is WHY do we have to take action to provide the homeless a place to sleep? I sleep legally every night in the home that I work very hard to pay for. I watch the same "homeless" people walk the same route daily. Stopping at the liquor store and then they are behind the dumpster drinking and peeing while you and me work to provide for ourselves. I am not talking about the "the homeless children" but I don't believe they are the bulk of the homeless community. They are just the ones the homeless advocates talk about...they never talk about the adults that are offered services but refuse to take the help...those are the ones that should be sent somewhere else.

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