Archive for Friday, April 9, 2010

Many questions and at least one key skeptic make moving homeless shelter less than a done deal

Protest petition means 4 of 5 commissioners must approve plan

The city's homeless shelter could move to a new location in east Lawrence near the Douglas County jail, but nearby residents have started a petition against it. The city commission will discuss the matter Tuesday.

April 9, 2010


A close vote on the future of Lawrence’s homeless shelter is shaping up at Lawrence City Hall.

A proposal to locate the Lawrence Community Shelter in a warehouse near the Douglas County Jail in eastern Lawrence now must receive at least four of the five votes on the City Commission in order to proceed, after neighbors filed a legal protest petition against the plans.

Already, one commissioner is expressing serious concerns about whether he’ll be able to support the project — which would establish the shelter at 3701 Franklin Park Circle — when commissioners debate it at their Tuesday meeting.

“What I’ve seen, I’ve not been impressed with,” Commissioner Lance Johnson said. “I’m not in the business of running a shelter, so it is hard for me to micromanage it. But I’m not seeing, in what is proposed, anything that gives me confidence that we’re giving people a hand up versus a permanent hand out.”

Little margin for error

That may leave the shelter’s proposal with a razor-thin margin for error.

Commissioner Mike Amyx also is seen by many as a swing vote on the issue. He said Friday afternoon that he still had questions he wanted answered and did not rule out deferring a vote on the proposal.

“If I feel like we need to put this into a special study session to get more information, I will seek to do that,” Amyx said.

Questions largely were focusing on the shelter’s management plan, and in particular, how long a shelter guest can stay at the facility without enrolling in a formal program designed to end their homelessness.

The proposed management plan calls for guests to have a case manager within 72 hours of arriving at the shelter, but they have up to 90 days to begin participating in a shelter program.

“I think that is something that is way too long,” Amyx said.

Shelter director Loring Henderson said most guests are expected to be in a program before the 90-period, but that sometimes it takes that long to evaluate an individual’s situation. Now, Henderson is trying to assure commissioners that the shelter will look and feel much different from the current facility at 10th and Kentucky, which would be closed if the new shelter becomes operational.

“It will be calmer and quieter and a lot more focused,” Henderson said. “It will be a shelter. It won’t be all things to all people.”

Drop-in concerns

Unlike the current facility, the new shelter would not operate as a drop-in center. The new shelter would not allow anyone in the shelter during the day, unless they also are registered as a night-time guest of the shelter.

But that change has sparked speculation in the community that Henderson or members of his organization will try to operate a drop-in center elsewhere. Henderson said Friday that was not the case.

“The answer to that question is no,” Henderson said about having any interest in operating a drop-in center.

The issue is expected to draw a crowd to Tuesday evening’s meeting. Two of the larger groups in Lawrence have taken different positions on the issue. Downtown merchants have been lobbying commissioners to approve the proposal. Several developers have been lobbying commissioners to reject the proposal over concerns that the shelter would have a chilling effect on the future development of raw ground near the new site. At the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission last month, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce also expressed concerns about the site.

Johnson said he thinks those concerns are justified, based on the past operations of the shelter.

“I think the community is supportive of having a homeless shelter,” Johnson said. “But I think the community expects some accountability, and for it to be run a lot differently than it has been.”

Mayor Rob Chestnut said he thinks the shelter and future development can co-exist, as long as the shelter is well-managed.

“The physical setup of the site is definitely better than the current location at being able to avoid a lot of activity happening off the property,” Chestnut said.

Commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


paulette2 8 years ago

keep it closer to downtown and I-70 please!

svenway_park 8 years ago

Since we are now going to suggest particular destinations, I believe the 800 block of W 21st St is a fantastic place. The drainage is great, and you have some non-owner tenants who have a distinctly Aspen-like aspect on the homeless.

skinny 8 years ago

With a murder, sexual battery, and other crimes lately by the homeless I think they need to scrap the project now and just forget about it.

If you cater to them they will come!!

BlackVelvet 8 years ago

and are the homeless supposed to just walk between the LINK kitchen and the proposed new shelter? That's quite a jaunt to make every day.

alm77 8 years ago

I thought the approval hinged on a bus stop being right by the shelter.

Sunny Parker 8 years ago

quite a jaunt? So what....what else do they have to do! Let's pay for a cab for them to get to their free food and shelter!

50YearResident 8 years ago

Ok, lets start this discussion with a full opperating declaration with disclosures of opperating expenses, planned number of staff with salary figures, including Mr. Henderson, a printed agenda of opperation, and an explanation of where opperating capitol is going to come from. Is this a forced donation from city government and the citizens of Lawrence with no end in seight and a perpetual drain on the United Fund? Is there financial backers somewhere that we are not aware of that are funding this project or is it a plan that once implemented will require more and more tax dollars every year? The people want to know!

50YearResident 8 years ago

I have never heard that this is a fully funded project with the money already in the bank. So where is the backing for opperation going to come from. We want to see a written budget.

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

Now, Henderson is trying to assure commissioners that the shelter will look and feel much different from the current facility at 10th and Kentucky, which would be closed if the new shelter becomes operational.

“It will be calmer and quieter and a lot more focused,” Henderson said. “It will be a shelter. It won’t be all things to all people.”

---let's see: larger, still an "open shelter" welcoming drunks/druggies; attracting lifestyle bums from out of town; and I'm supposed to believe it's gonna be "calmer" and "more focused?"

what the he|| planet does Henderson live on then? or is he partaking in the druggieness?

best way to judge the shelter and its management is examine behavior in the past. every night responsible homeless making good choices must compete against the drunks/druggies/pedaphiles/criminals for bed space. if the shelter were a house, it would have been shut down years ago as a nuissance house!

crime is concentrated in this population and the shelter is attracting lots from out of town.
yeah, I'm convinced: I'm sure now that the new and improved open shelter out southeast will be calmer and more focused! sure I am!

I'm ready to support the shelter in its efforts to enable people to self-destruct. yeah mann.

irvan moore 8 years ago

From following the never ending story of where to put a shelter it appears to me that the only part of the community that really wants a new shelter is downtown and Mr. Henderson. It would seem that they are the ones (besides possibly the homeless) who will benefit from it. I can't help but think the problem will remain downtown during decent weather, isolation is not the answer.

BigPrune 8 years ago

Here's some suggestions as to where to build it:

--Down by the river (the homeless love the river anyway, but no liquor stores nearby) --On the northside of I-70 in North Lawrence (still close to the river/railroad/iquor stores)

The North Lawrence suggestion makes more sense than anywhere else. Low population, no curb appeal, not too many entering town would see it unless they were coming in off 24/40, floodplain area so there will never be much growth in that part of town, and lots of white trash live in North Lawrence anyway so there shouldn't be too much opposition. A common sense solution.

emptymind 8 years ago

BigPrune, that is the most arrogant and ignorant post I ve seen in a long time. There are good people everywhere and plenty of 'white trash' in west lawrence if you look. I hope they decide to build next door to you, wherever you live!

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

send them all to Merrill's house. Make him feed and house them. It would be good for him so he can feel like some of us do when we have to continue to pay higher taxes because of so many social programs that help so few.

januarygirl 8 years ago


somebodynew 8 years ago

@commuter - as much as I like your idea of Merrill's house, a much better place would be Hilda's house. That is in Alvamar and should have plenty of room, and she has done more (at least vocally) to get the homeless situation to where it is now in Lawrence. I am surprized I have not seen her name in any of the articles, or letters to the editor, chastising the people who are against any kind of help for the homeless.

50YearResident 8 years ago

Who is Loring Henderson? What is his educational background? What expertise does he bring to the Lawrence Shelter? How long has he been the leader of this or any other Homeless Shelter. Is he the top official of this shelter or does he have someone to report to? Who writes the checks to fund this project? Where exactly does the money come from? Can any of these questions be answered before the city approves this multimillion dollar project?

50YearResident 8 years ago

From paulette2, 40% of Lawrence homeless are children.
What? I question this figure, where did it come from? Can you provide statistics to back up the 42% children claim?

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

If the objective is keeping some from downtown this plan likely will not work

If the objective is to help others get on their feet this plan likely will work for that is a real life goal. Go for it!

Remember the homeless population has never never been responsible for killing 11 million jobs in an 8 year period. AND put the country into bankruptcy. Want to talk about where your tax dollars are going?

Locally roads and developers are staggering budget items.

As for big government tax dollars the wealthy get their share and most do not blink an eye. Most just say wonderful even if increases OUR cost of living across the board by way of groceries,user fees,increases taxes by way of new housing projects,tax abatements = tax increase,TIF= tax increase etc etc.

So long as the wealthy are receiving plenty of tax loopholes which increase taxes to the majority of others so many just sit back,pay out and worship those wealthy receiving help from big government.

Most builders/developers/Chamber people understand OUR tax dollars do improve their high profit development projects.

I'd bet the homeless populations cannot cost WE taxpayers anywhere near what the whiny wealthy elite take from our pockets = dwindling expendable cash.

Is there a definite pattern? Absolutely!

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Home Loan Scandal

  2. The Bush/Cheney Home Loan Scandal

  3. What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the bail out money?

  4. Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion and wreck the economy)

  5. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts

  6. The multi trillion dollar War - another bad idea The three trillion dollar war - The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions. Politicians were wrong about the benefits and the costs.

Remember the homeless population has never never been responsible for killing 11 million jobs in an 8 year period. AND put the country into bankruptcy. Want to talk about where your tax dollars are going?

Jean1183 8 years ago

Leave the shelter where it is. Make Henderson change it to the type of shelter he is proposing for Franklin Park Circle. IF there is such a BIG difference, then it should work for the current location too. ONLY then should a larger location be considered.

50YearResident 8 years ago

paulette, Family Promice sounds like a much better place for Lawrence to invest time and money in than the homeless shelter, Keep up the goood work.

Clevercowgirl 8 years ago

Why would they put a shelter out there? All of the services, medical, charity, transportation, jobs, mental health, social services, are centrally located in town. Recall, not long ago the Savation Army shelter closed. There were as many homeless as ever downtown. If downtown Lawrence business wants to reduce panhandling, public drunkeness (non-student), muggings, etc., they should help pay for more foot patrol. The vagabond types that hang out downtown are there because they like downtown Lawrence. A shelter in Timbuktu is not going to solve the problem. If the public is being asked to foot the bill of any of this, then fact based decisions need to be implemented.

Melinda Black 8 years ago

Loring Henderson is exactly the kind of man I would want to run the shelter. Some of you should do your homework before questioning his intentions.

50YearResident 8 years ago

mmblack, Thank you for the link you provided to Mr Henderson's past experiance. It answered many of my concerns and I recommend everyone on this post read the story. It can only help his cause. More of this type of information needs to be given to the general public. If you have anything else please make it available.

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

Brother Prune: and lots of white trash live in North Lawrence anyway so there shouldn't be too much opposition. A common sense solution.

---brother Prune, I hope you were being sarcastic, 'cuz I'd hate to view you like the former Marioni.

again spambot-merrill posts his drivel!
the other day, Greenspan testifying to the congressional investigation said that the subprime loan crisis was caused by the political push from congress to keep giving unqualified people home loans. so, spambot-merrill look at barney frank, Mannie Cleaver (of KC) and Denny Moore, oh yeah, mad Maxine Waters too (whose hubby ison a bank's board of directors that benefited greatly).

Greenspan said these people were the actual cause of our current financial crisis because they exerted political pressure against oversight and to promote home ownership by people who really couldn't afford the loans. despite your drivel, the actual history shows that the Bush administration started trying to fix this problem in 2003!

hey Paulette2, you're on your 15th incarnation after being TOSsed off 14 times! you getting close again?
if you had a legitimate thought in your wacky head, you'd know that the population served by Family Promise is certainly not the population "served" or rather enabled by Henderson's drunken/druggy shelter.
same goes for the former Salvation Army shelter.
you're trying to compare apples and oranges. the drunken/druggy shelter serves a very high proportion of lifestyle bums. and far fewer responsible families with kids. Family Promis has actual standards and expectations.

BigPrune 8 years ago

I lived in North Lawrence for 7 years. I don't consider you white trash, but there is a lot of white trash in North Lawrence. There's a lot of white trash all over this town.

Where they should really build the shelter should be at 15th & Monterey Way.

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

Pilgrim2, I hear that Merrill-spambot is going to ad a new activity besides his: nude hiking and nude gardening and nude biking.
I hear he's gonna start nude lawn mowing.


amazing that he even walks around and feeds himself.

for those unfamiliar: Merrill-spambot says that broken streets are good because they serve as passive traffic calming devices. Merrill-spambot is on the traffic safey commission and actually opposes people driving. Merrill-spambot also wants us to have enforced power outages to force electricity conservation.
he says that if we lived in caves, it would be much better environmentally.
he does favor nude gardening, nude hiking, and nude biking.

I should add he campaigned very hard on here for the candidacy of prettyboy Johnny Edwards. posting link after link after godaweful link.

he often cites democrazynow and dollarsandsense as if they were reasonable sources.

just a little history of Merrill-spambot.
once, a new poster actually asked: "is this Merrill actually liberal software that spams the boards?"

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

I agree, build the new shelter on El Dorado!, put them to work at the country club out there. when they need overflow, they could pitch their tents on the golf course.

why is the bum shelter for the drunken/druggy enablement always supposed to be in east lawrence?

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