Archive for Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Plan stalls to move homeless shelter

The architect's drawing shows the proposed new community shelter planned for the site of the former Don's Steakhouse on East 23rd Street.

The architect's drawing shows the proposed new community shelter planned for the site of the former Don's Steakhouse on East 23rd Street.

November 17, 2009, 12:00 a.m. Updated November 17, 2009, 9:17 a.m.


No action for new shelter

After some lengthy discussion regarding the proposed new homeless shelter, city leaders declined to take action in the matter. The new shelter would replace Don's Steak House on east 23rd Street. Enlarge video

Related document

Lawrence Community Shelter site plan ( .PDF )

Not yet.

Leaders of the local homeless shelter did not win the big victory they had hoped for Monday night as Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commissioners declined to act on plans for a new shelter in eastern Lawrence.

On a 6-4 vote, commissioners late Monday said they weren’t yet convinced that plans by the Lawrence Community Shelter to build a new 125-bed shelter at the former Don’s Steakhouse site on East 23rd Street wouldn’t negatively impact the surrounding area.

“I think there is a lot of work that still needs to be done,” said Planning Commission Chairman Greg Moore. “A lot more work in terms of this management plan needs to be done.”

The deferral was exactly what leaders of the Community Shelter had asked planners not to do. The shelter hopes to move from its current location at 10th and Kentucky streets in downtown, and had hoped to close on the former Don’s Steakhouse property in early December. Shelter leaders said they had hoped to go before Lawrence city commissioners for final approval in early December so that they could begin an approximately $3 million fundraising campaign for the project.

Now, it appears the earliest the Planning Commission may hear it again is in January, with perhaps city commissioners hearing it in February.

Commissioners took the action after hearing from a divided public. Several residents expressed concerns about how the shelter would deal with homeless people walking through their neighborhoods and potential safety issues. Several homeless advocates and some neighbors near the site supported the proposal, saying the fact that the property was not immediately adjacent to residential property made it better than most sites.

Planning commissioners also were divided.

“There isn’t an island we can put this on,” said Commissioner Hugh Carter. “These are concerns we’re going to have to deal with, and we can.”

A majority of commissioners, though, said they wanted the shelter’s leadership to do more on a management plan that would show how the shelter would address issues — everything from foot traffic through neighborhoods to panhandling along 23rd Street — before they would consider approving a necessary rezoning and special use permit.

Commissioners also said they were concerned with a staff recommendation that a special use permit for the property be granted for a 15-year period. Most special use permits last for five years or less.

Loring Henderson, executive director of the shelter, said Monday’s actions did not kill the project, but does add serious complications to the project’s fundraising efforts. Henderson said that a reduction in the 15-year duration of the permit would be very damaging to fundraising efforts because many foundations would not be comfortable giving money to the project unless it had a long-term commitment to stay on the site.

Commissioners Carter, Jeff Chaney, Richard Hird and Kenzie Singleton voted against the deferral. Commissioners Moore, Charles Blaser, Lisa Harris, Brad Finkeldei, Charlie Dominguez and Stanley Rasmussen voted for the deferral.


honestone 8 years, 3 months ago

Thank You Planning Commission members that protected us and delayed this silly action. Is it a surprise that two of the four votes against this delay have offices less than three blocks from the current shelter and one of the commissioners that thought it was a good idea to put it in East Lawrence lives west of Wakarusa?

Jeanette Kekahbah 8 years, 3 months ago

My sincerest gratitude to the six commissioners who voted intelligently.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years, 3 months ago

The commissioners who voted against action are cowards, aquiescing to the NIMBY behavior of those who would just rather the problem of homeless and troubled neighbors--and they are our neighbors--disappear.

I have lived with the shelter in my neighborhood, and it didn't ruin my life. In fact, drunk students were much more problematic than the homeless.

honestone and connected, since you feel so strongly about the shelter, why don't you try being part of the solution instead of part of the problem? Or do you think that your civic obligation extends only to pretending that it isn't your problem?

Amy Heeter 8 years, 3 months ago

Loring Henderson is ridiculous. What makes him this he can get a 15 year special use permit when everyone else can only get 5 years at a time. This kind of thought on jhis part sums it up in a nutshell. Loring wants exceptions made so he can get what he wants no matter who it causes problems for. Scrap the whole thing and send Loring Henderson packing too.

Jean1183 8 years, 3 months ago

"Thank you" to the 6 planning commissioners who voted to defer!

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 3 months ago

What is the problem? I just don't get it. Lawrence still amazes me with their" not in my backyard" attitude.

bb837988 8 years, 3 months ago

grammaddy (Anonymous) says…

What is the problem? I just don't get it. Lawrence still amazes me with their” not in my backyard” attitude.

Where is your backyard? Perhaps you can get to work on a site that would have the shelter in your neighborhood.

Daniel Davidson 8 years, 3 months ago

Why not let us work on the solution instead of creating a new problem. Why not try to rehabilitate the home less to where they can be productive members of society. Like limiting the amout of time they can live for free at the shelter. Work out a job traing program with local companies to help teach the homeless a skills that they can live by. Have an accountant setup a checking account to where 1/2 of their earnings goes to the shelter, 1/4 goes into a account to help buld funds for them to get their own place, and 1/4 goes to the individual for personal effects. With the stipulation that if they dont follow all the ruls of the residents all money will be turned over to the house and they would be kicked out. If we try to help reintergrate them into society they would no longer be a problem.

Daniel Davidson 8 years, 3 months ago

So how do the citizens of Lawrence get rid of the guy. I mean was he voted in or what?

januarygirl 8 years, 3 months ago

. there are so many items about this that defies common sense. i 'am all for helping those in need,just not enabling those who don't want help to change their circumstance. there are programs and money in place for those who want the help. this project is to big for the long term expence for it not to be voted upon by the public, just like any other taxable plan that will reach into the taxpayers pocket.

skinny 8 years, 3 months ago

You would not believe all the crime here in this town associated with the homeless people. If they build the homeless shelter near downtown the crime rate will skyrocket! If you don’t believe me go to the Douglas County Sheriff’s web page and look at all the homeless people booked into the jail all the time!

They just need to build the homeless shelter next to the jail so when they are arrested they can just walk across the street to book them in!

thewayitis 8 years, 3 months ago

If there is no plan to help these poeple to get dry, get on their feet and become productive members of society then any "location" is a bad one. And don't say... "and what about the mentally challenged" There are places for mentally challenged to work as well. Keep the poor comfortable and they will be poor forever.

Jan Brocker 8 years, 3 months ago

So, nobody wants the shelter in their backyard. In all essence the problem of relocating the shelter is not the real problem. The LCS will NEVER be successful as long as they facilitate drug and alcohol abuse, don’t do criminal background checks and refuse to have any accountability. Although I believe that Loren and his staff have the best intentions, their unwillingness to listen to others (who have tried to run this shelter “model” unsuccessfully) and their blatant disrespect to the community does nothing but attract people who otherwise would not have come to Lawrence in the first place. The saying “build it and they will come” fits this situation perfectly.

50YearResident 8 years, 3 months ago

What is Loring Henderson's salary? How many others are on the "payroll?

januarygirl 8 years, 3 months ago

there are shelters in other states that are very successful. the circumstances for being homeless are not all housed under the same roof and treated the same. mr loring wants to place everyone in the same building in a very bad location. familes should not be exposed to that kind of treatment.

ilovelucy 8 years, 3 months ago

Whereas I agree with several comments, I must say that your conspiracy theories are absolutely ridiculous, 50 yr resident and honestone. Get over yourselves.

januarygirl 8 years, 3 months ago


yankeevet 8 years, 3 months ago

Why do they want a shelter anyway; have the homies; go too Kansas City...........(missouri side; lol)...........

TheYetiSpeaks 8 years, 3 months ago

As usual the topic of the homeless proves to be one of the largest sources of ignorance in Lawrence....One of many.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 3 months ago

Cool. Leave it where it is till next year. Loring can come up with a better PR strategy or at least one that will dazzle the commission by then.

I did not attend the public forum but from what I gathered from LJworld's coverage, he really dropped the ball.

I was particularly troubled by his response to one citizen's question about banned or rejected clients who are too intoxicated or act out inappropriately when checking into the shelter at night. His response was that the staff will never turn away a client without having a place for him to go. That was a bloody lie if you have ever witnessed shelter staff deal with those clients. In the past, the shelters staff has turned the client out, seriously intoxicated, with nowhere to go but back downtown. It would be great if they HAD a place to send them. Maybe a city ordinance that jails winos for eight hours or a detox center where they can get medically detoxed. DCCCA, the "non-profit" has the city duped into believing that their services are the best route for drunk driving classes and domestic violence classes. Why doesn't DCCCA the "non-profit" consider a city contracted detox facility?

Richard Payton 8 years, 3 months ago

Why not an island in the middle of the kaw? Addresses the concerns of being in my backyard. Build it above flood stage with a walkway from levee to center of river. Call it the mini alcatraz that way it also would be a tourist attraction. Also, we could view it from City Hall's fourth floor viewing area.

hunziker1 8 years, 3 months ago

the shelter right now is in my back yard and me and my naghbors do not have the problems that that where brought up at the meeting and cnsumer 1 its not the job of a homeless shelter to rehabeltate many of the homeless. arnt there becouse there lazy. there are mentel illness that the state wont help with alot of these people are incapale of taking care of themselves and yes i no there are some just milking the cow so why not have time liments on how long they can stay. and make sure the people that deside are not staff also the shelter should be a step up not a hand out if they stay there they should be requierd to work in the community picking up trash or somthing alcahole and drugs should not be talerated our taxe dollers should not go to house someone so they dont have to spend there goverment mony on rent but can drink and do drugs each day and yes my typing skills suck

Jeremy Lichtenauer 8 years, 3 months ago

Last week I heard on my scanner a deputy from Franklin County bringing a bum from Ottawa to the Lawrence shelter. Another transplant that will never leave - until the free ride is over.

Oh, they're coming. They're coming like the plague.

50YearResident 8 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone else suspect a planted troll here?

50YearResident 8 years, 3 months ago

The suspected troll is not Jeremy, he/she (troll) is in a different post.

kucourtsider 8 years, 3 months ago

If some of you care so much about the rest of us fighting, then be a part of the situation and speak out. Instead of hiding behind a computer screen, go to the planning commission meeting in January and voice your opinion. Whether you are in favor or against the relocation, everyone's opinion needs to be heard.

...and that's where the problem is. The first time Mr. Henderson reached out to the East Lawrence community was last Thursday. LAST THURSDAY. Not two months ago, not six months ago, but less than a week ago. The LCS has rushed through this planning process in order to push it through to East Lawrence. There have been comments made indicating that the shelter SHOULD be in East Lawrence, because we are less likely to fight.

Well, they have a fight. I have no doubt in my mind that this will pass through the Planning and City commissions. Most of them have already made up their mind. However, things need to be addressed before this decision is made. The LCS's management plan, foot traffic studies, and much much more need to be researched, addressed, and communicated to the citizens of East Lawrence.

I am a compassionate individual and I have done my share of volunteering to help the homeless. Hell, I have friends that have been homeless. Even their opinion is to not move the situation, but remedy it where it is. Drugs and alcohol play a huge part in this debate and that is evident. But when LCS's management plan indicates that they do not condone the distribution of alcohol, yet they give the alcohol BACK to the individual the next day, they are contradicting themselves and are acting as a distributor.

For all of you that live near the current shelter...if the shelter does not cause distraction and disturbance in your neighborhood, why are you not fighting harder to keep it there and offer suggestions on ways they can change the way they run things?

KevinGalvan 8 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence you are suppose to be a learned community. You have a problem. Develop a plan that will satisfy everyone and then implement that plan. Bickering amongst yourselves is useless. Homelessness is a nation wide problem so stop acting like a lone victim. Help the people, someday they may have the burden of helping you.

Kim Murphree 8 years, 3 months ago

First, those of you who are attacking Loring Henderson are extremely uninformed, or you haven't visited the shelter. There is no room for "rehabilitation," and what little can be done is BEING DONE because Loring Henderson is there. He is an excellent administrator who is doing alot with NOTHING. As for "not on 23rd Street", the old Don's Steakhouse is the perfect site for the place where programs can be developed and lives changed. And lives can be changed, but only if we practice true humanity--I, for one, as a Christian, know that everything I have comes from the goodness of God, and his blessings in my life come as I help others find their way...if we practiced this kind of community in Lawrence, we would find ourselves blessed beyond our imagination. But, that takes a little faith.

kucourtsider 8 years, 3 months ago

God has more important things to do rather than hold our hands while we rehabilitate the homeless people.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

The problem is not Loring Henderson not by a long shot.

8 million jobs were lost under GW Bush. Millions upon millions upon millions more have been lost to a steady flow of outsourcing jobs abroad. Where do people work to make enough money to support themselves. Those of us who can still carry on might be living in glass houses.

Downtowns problems are greater than the homeless. There is far more retail space than Lawrence,Kansas can support no matter what. That is THE HUGE problem. One day local retail operators will need to confront the chamber of commerce and our city/county commissioners on this issue...... or go out of business. NO new retail can withstand this over built market.

Prometheus 8 years, 3 months ago

I find the sup argument to be an unnecessary target. The commissioners verified that the city can break the sup if LCS violates it.

This means it doesn’t matter if the sup is 1 year, 15 years or 50 years.

The city has the ability to revoke it at any time if it is in violation. If the shelter violates the sup regardless of its period of duration, they will have to answer to the city who may choose to revoke the sup.

If that level of city power is not enough then what more control would any suggest the city have over the shelter’s sup? The city is not offering to run the shelter itself.

Having the shelter renew the sup yearly is a waste of time and resources and there are other more important issues in the community to utilize that time for.

I agree that all the voices involved in this discussion are equally important. No side won or lost last night. Many commissioners stated they will vote in favor of the shelter once the management plan is more to their liking and the liking of the neighbors. Having more community forums was discussed as well.

For this situation to be realized the community that is so against this shelter needs to be vocal and attend the community forums. However, there also needs to be realism about what they want LCS to do and what the shelter as an operating agency is capable of doing.

Honest conversation is needed for both sides to move forward and work as the true community we all aspire to be.

Good evening to all.

Megg 8 years, 3 months ago

Firstly, just when I start to think that we, as adults, can discuss and debate an issue without resorting to childish name calling, articles like this come along and give me the wake up call I've been apparently begging for.

Let us be completely honest with ourselves - brutally honest. The homeless are a problem. On this we are very much agreed. However, we can point fingers and call each other names until the last wino in Kansas is gainfully employed, and it still won't solve the problem. Want to know what it is? Of course you do. You're gluttons for punishment, after all, if you've read this far.

The problem, quite simply, is us. Well, ok, the homeless started it, right, by being homeless or lazy or mentally ill. I mean, how DARE they, right? As if.

But now that we have the problem, we all feel like we should have a hand in resolving this problem... except this problem is dirty, smelly, drunk, uneducated, and, quite frankly, bringing down property values.

I mean, that's what it's all about, right? We all want the homeless taken care of - some of us want to truly have them rehabilitated, others want them to just go away, and the majority of us are right in the middle. Sure, rehab them... just not when I've just moved into my overpriced home that I would like to sell in a few years for fun and profit. After all, I have an image to maintain and an SUV in my driveway.

Both sides are simply annoying me. The self-righteous speak implying that they CARE when most of them have never even helped an old lady across the street, let alone held a ladle of crappy soup out to a homeless child. The "concerned neighbors" who have never felt the shame and humility that comes with leaving your pride behind you in order to feed your children. You all, frankly, disgust me.

Instead of sitting here arguing who is right and who is wrong and feeling superior in your selflessness or secure in your McMansion, we should be asking ourselves what our true motives are. Most of you need to accept that you are not the martyr of the century or the concerned neighbor who's simply looking out for the best interest of their community. Someone truly concered and passionate about their side of this issue won't bother with pointing fingers and calling each other names.

None of you are helping. None of you are presenting facts to sway people into understanding your position. Go dig up some research, find some alternative solutions, or give us facts and charts on the pros and cons. If you can't do that, then what good are you doing for your side?

Okay, I'm done. Feel free to act outraged, call me names, or sit in a corner and cut yourselves. But really, show me some hard proof that what you want me to believe is the best. Both sides. 1, 2, 3, GO!

kucourtsider 8 years, 3 months ago

You've chimed in Megg, and you obviously have an opinion. Where are your charts? Where are your pros and cons? Just curious...

kucourtsider 8 years, 3 months ago

The LCS and the City would like to put a bus plan into action in order to transport the homeless individuals from the shelter to wherever it is they need to go. One Commissioner even offered a suggestion for front door service at the shelter.

Oooookay. The kids in Lawrence who live within 2 miles of their schools have to find alternative ways of getting to and from school, in the elements (rain, snow, etc), yet we want to let tax payers fund a bus route and bus passes for the homeless. Nice. Let's take care of the homeless first, before our kids.

Megg 8 years, 3 months ago

Ahh, ku. You're cute. I didn't claim to have a side in this whatsoever, and the last time I checked, ambivalence didn't require hard facts.

What I would like to see, however, is more critical thinking about this issue and less finger pointing and accusing. It would be nice to see someone here offer a truly unique view or offer a suggestion instead of attack everyone that doesn't agree with them. Be the first, ku, to prove me wrong and show me proof that this type of project has resulted in good or bad for a community. Teach the rest of us who may not have complete knowledge of the situation something you feel is important to this topic.

kucourtsider 8 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, but no need to patronize Megg. As I did not claim you had a side, but you OBVIOUSLY have an opinion on the matter.

I never EVER said I was against the building of a new shelter. I would like for the individuals that truly need aid and assistance to be taken care of. I do not want to see anyone out on the street on a cold night, regardless of whether they are drunk or high. I would love for the homeless in Lawrence to be rehabilitated and move on with their lives.

With that being said, there have to be other options and other locations that can be reviewed. They LCS says they have researched different locations without luck. Move the shelter to North Lawrence near or IN the Tanger mall. It's close to camping grounds, a one road trek to downtown where the homeless really want to be, and very few residences along the way.

For what it's worth, I do not live near the proposed location.

budwhysir 8 years, 3 months ago

I must say, during a time when the average American is having trouble making it in this bad economy, the picture they show of this shelter, may provide a false idea that might invite people to become homeless to live in such an elegant setting. I believe in helping our fellow Americans in need, however, I think there are plenty of things that the owners of a homeless shelter could do. For example, have people be part of a town beautification team that helps clean up the town during the day. This would eliminate the 8 to 10 hours a day many of them spend drinking. Make it illegal for anyone without an address to just hang out downtown during the hours of 8 to 5

Require anyone asking for assistance to apply for 3 jobs a week like you do when collecting unemployment. Think about it, we pay into unemployment funds so they are there to draw when needed. So why should one be encouraged to live free in the homeless shelter. We should also call it something other than a homeless shelter. Something like between town or "motel my other home is a mansion under construction"

Family_of_3 8 years, 3 months ago

I would like to see Lawrence address the homelessness challenge by providing two distinct shelter solutions: one plan designed to meet the needs of those who are not substance abusers, and one for people with substance abuse problems. The needs of these two groups are so different... I can't imagine how a single shelter could provide appropriate services to both groups at the same time. For the former group, I’m a big fan of providing a diverse range of options, and I think our local churches have done a nice job with the Family Promise program, from what I’ve read. For the latter group, it’s more complicated.

I have a family member attending a substance abuse program in Phoenix - it’s the best I’ve ever seen. It is a long-term facility (participants often stay a year or more), and the participants pay for the program themselves through jobs secured with help from the program. Of course it includes housing, assistance with transportation for those without a license, and assistance with all the other barriers that stand in the way of person who would like to improve their lives, but who have gotten themselves into such trouble that it's virtually impossible to do so without help. I think a program modeled this way is self-sustaining and works to solve the underlying problems that lead to homelessness for people who suffer from addiction. It isn’t a “shelter” per se - but it does provide “shelter” in conjunction with other critical services that a person needs in order to address the problems that lead to homelessness in the first place. I realize we will still have those people who do not want help…they just want a dry place to sleep where they can continue using. I don’t have an easy answer to this. I think those in 12 step programs will tell you that if you make it easy for people to drink/use by providing a clean, safe place to do so…then they’ll continue to use. So perhaps the only option is to turn them away and hope they hit bottom eventually. Some do, some don’t, some will, some won’t. It’s a sad fact of life.

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