To the editor:
This past winter has been the most relentless, if not one of the snowiest, on record in Lawrence. Imagine if, under these conditions, you had no home, no haven to retreat to. This circumstance faced our homeless citizens over those months, what I call the “long winter of the poor.” Now a glorious spring has replaced that winter and still we are faced with the reality of an overcrowded shelter, a circumstance that could be remedied by building a newer, better shelter. Keep in mind that an emergency shelter is not an end in itself but, as the motto of the shelter reads, “a path to a positive future.”
The new location, a stone’s throw from the Douglas County Jail, while not ideal, is the best one we could expect Lawrence Community Shelter and its dedicated staff to find. Indeed, no other neighborhood (among many under consideration in Lawrence) would embrace a shelter and, consequently, its guests. Some people want homeless people “out of sight, out of mind.” Some people consider homeless people as dangerous; on the contrary, the vast majority are vulnerable. In fact, the world has largely let them down and has denied them their rightful place as citizens of this community.
We see the full flowering of spring outside today. If only we could let our own misunderstanding and prejudice thaw and let good well and kindness show itself above the ground and bloom. Only then will the “long winter of the poor” end.