Archive for Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homeless shelter gets 1-year extension

The homeless shelter in downtown Lawrence received a one-year extension on its operating permit. City commissioners want the shelter to move forward with new management plans.

February 24, 2010


Downtown will continue to be home to a homeless shelter for a bit longer.

City commissioners on Tuesday approved a one-year extension of the Lawrence Community Shelter’s operating permit at 10th and Kentucky streets, but not before hearing opposition from some area residents and the board of directors of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

“We believe it is time to say enough already,” Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., told commissioners. Pennington read from a statement approved by the organization’s board that said the group was understanding of the need for a shelter but believed its current location was incompatible with the city’s desire to keep downtown vibrant.

City commissioners, though, unanimously agreed — after more than three hours of debate — to extend the permit in order to give shelter leaders more time to develop a new shelter site on the eastern edge of Lawrence.

“I think we are so close to the best solution we’ve seen in a long time,” Mayor Rob Chestnut said.

Shelter leaders have filed necessary land use requests to convert a warehouse building immediately east of the Douglas County Jail into a new homeless shelter and jobs center. Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commissioners are scheduled to hear the proposal for that site — 3701 Franklin Park Circle — on March 22. City commissioners could consider giving the project final approval in mid-April.

But shelter leaders said they’ll need a significant amount of time to raise money for the project — perhaps up to $3 million — before the new site can become a reality. Shelter leaders had asked the commission to approve a two-year extension of the facility’s operating permit, but commissioners balked.

Instead, commissioners said one year with a caveat was more appropriate. The caveat is that commissioners want to see a new management plan for the shelter by June, or else they could choose to revoke the permit.

Several commissioners said they want that plan to come up with ways to make shelter guests more accountable for their actions. Commissioners also want to explore ways to ensure shelter guests actually are residents of Douglas County, and that the shelter’s staff be more vigilant in confiscating alcohol and drug paraphernalia from guests.

City Commissioner Lance Johnson said he personally would like the shelter to change its policy so individuals who have been drinking or using drugs could not stay at the shelter, but said he would not make that a condition for future approval. Other commissioners also said they likely would not seek that from the new management plan.

“I know that would be a tough one to put on you because we don’t have another place in the community to handle that,” Johnson said.

Commissioners did hear from several shelter supporters, including multiple shelter board members who said they were confident that fundraising activities would go well once the group’s fundraising committee could tell donors that a site had been approved by the city.

Britt Kring, a member of the shelter’s board, said he believes the site near the Douglas County Jail has the best chance of any the shelter recently has looked at because of how isolated it is from any residential structures.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know where else to put it if this site doesn’t work,” Kring said.

Shelter leaders will meet with neighbors and property owners near the proposed site at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Building No. 1 at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds. The meeting is open to the public.


Jeteras 8 years ago

I see a decrease in the homeless with the downgraded downsized building. Its working eventually no shelter then we will be like every other city.. Take the 3 million and pay the homeless min. wage to clean up trash and patch potholes and whatever else is needed. According to my calculations you can employ 199 people at min wage for one year with 3 million????? not that hard to solve the problem.. Oh I know lets just give them a free place to be a freeloader!

Chad Collins 8 years ago

Isn't it ironic how apathetic the council is when it comes to actually completing this? Those folks that are sitting outside know exactly how to put things off.

jafs 8 years ago


That's an interesting idea - you should call someone at the city and suggest it.

somedude20 8 years ago

I had a friend who worked at papa k's. at the end of the night they have a ton of pies that they toss. my friend asked if i would take a few down to the homeless hotel and i said sure. i get to the workless inn, give the people their free pizza ,and they had the chuzpah to complain about a lock of toppings.

cowboy 8 years ago

Well , another year on the books of the bums occupying downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. The city needs to understand that their lack of action on this has turned many folks away from going downtown not to mention the grief the surrounding neighbors deal with. While Lawrence is a bastion of tolerance the time to solve this issue has long since past. If you can swing a deal to put a questionable company into a city owned building with no cost benefit to the city you ought to be able to get this puppy relocated pronto.

hawkfan_05 8 years ago

Is it not the whole objective of a homeless shelter to grant people who have fallen on hard times somewhere to lay their head while actively searching for employment and housing? Why then does management allow continued residence at the shelter without these standards being met? Homeless shelters are a "TOOL" not a solution.

chuckzero 8 years ago

People can complain about a problem and rely on stereotypes, or they can do something to resolve the problem. In the case of homelessness, the answer is right there in the name of the problem. People need affordable housing. City after city throw money down the drain by keeping homeless shelters open, when they should be building affordable housing for the homeless. It doesn't take much to give a person a home--even a small room in a building would make a big difference. And while the majority of homeless don't have mental issues, it's also important that well-funded health services be made available for the poor.

That's the smart solution. Or you could so it stupidly and pass dumb laws to keep the homeless off of Massachusetts so you can enjoy your strolls.

The economy is going to get worse, so if you don't end up homeless, more and more of your friends, neighbors and family will. So opt for the smart, proactive solution to this problem: build and create more affordable housing.

beawolf 8 years ago

"Some people are born to flip hamburgers, and some for shirt and ties. "...

This has to be the most ignorant statement ever posted.

bd 8 years ago

Take the $3 million, buy bus tickets for the non residence/drunks/druggies to Houston Tx, take the remaining money and split it among the remaining homeless and be done with it!

jehovah_bob 8 years ago


I just wanted to alert you to a typo on the first line of this article.

Here I fixed it for you:

Downtown will continue to be a homeless shelter for a bit longer.

jsusanmullane 8 years ago

Unfortunately, the homeless are always among us. And there are many reasons that people become homeless as there are people, far more than drugs and alcohol. Spouses die without life insurance, people lose their jobs and after months or even years are unable to find gainful employment, unemployment runs out. Many have serious mental health issues, and state funding has been decreased. Some people have lost their homes due to the mortgage crisis. Have you ever been on a waiting list for section 8 housing? Have you waded through the Social Security disability maze? Are you in that 40+ or 50+ age bracket, with years of experience, or a mother returning to the work force after raising kids, and having trouble finding employment? None of this is as simple as it seems. There are no easy answers.

The cost of living in Lawrence rivals that of Johnson County, Kansas, in large part due to the university. Rents are higher. But wages for the lowest paying jobs - waiting tables, flipping burgers, daycare, entry retail, etc. - remain low. And many of these jobs have been filled by displaced workers while they continue their job search and hold on for dear life.

It appears to me that there is a real lack of compassion amongst the online readers. How shameful.

Beth Ann Bittlingmayer 8 years ago

Someone above said that most of the homeless aren't mentally ill. That is completely untrue. Also, many of the comments regarding the homeless as freeloaders are extremely insensitive. When we marginalize people in society because they have difficulty "fitting in", for whatever reason, those people will likely act in ways that meet our stereotype of them. It's an unhealthy way of "fitting in." People who make such callous and ignorant remarks as many above have made should be required to spend time volunteering in homeless shelters, jails, and state mental health facilities. Then perhaps they might gain more objective insight into what the real underlying issues are that need to be remedied in order to create positive benefits for the entire community.

William McCauley 8 years ago

How much you want to bet that the "9th street corner gang" of 20 year old somethings will still be hanging out on that corner two years from now begging along with the professional homeless/panhandlers who live over at bum hotel full time. This town has been a stop on the "lifestyle homeless" for many years, they go south in winter and back up here in the summer, you see them all the time downtown.

I'm betting the move will not do anything to solve the issues of them hanging out and making problems for the people who live in the area, I bet the community building on 11th street, will still have a elevator that stinks of urine on a regular basis as it dose now.

beawolf 8 years ago

beawolf (anonymous) says... "Some people are born to flip hamburgers, and some for shirt and ties. "...

This has to be the most ignorant statement ever posted.

Healthcare_Moocher says.. Statement was not directed at you, but if you take offense to it get a better job!

No offense taken. It's just plain ignorant, but that seems to be the general trend of your posts anyway. Maybe someone should appoint you the "vagrant king" and you can walk amongst the homeless and handpick your selected few for shelter and tell the rest of the "endless stream of bums" to get a job.

beawolf 8 years ago

Healthcare_Moocher says...

"sit outside walmart sometime and watch the handicapped parking, about one out of 10 cars acutally has someone that appears to need that space."...

So your the guy I always see hanging out at WalMart staring at the handicapped spots. No wonder you're so antagonistic towards the shelter, you've been booted out.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

How many stinking bums are sitting in the basement of the public library looking at porn on the public computers while writing this stuff?

jsusanmullane 8 years ago

My mother suffered from severe emphysema and was actually accosted by another shopper one time for using a handicapped parking space. She couldn't walk 100 feet without being breathless. It made shopping difficult at best. Just because someone appears to be able-bodied doesn't mean they are. And I bet you didn't know that originally the Americans with Disabilities Act included a provision that would have required Braille on those handicapped parking signs?

There will always be people who take advantage of the system, no matter how well it is managed.

But there are many out there who have lost jobs due to downsizing, then lost their homes and their vehicles because they are unemployed.

Praise the Lord you are not one of those people. Give thanks to Him.

And pray for those who are suffering in this economy. There are many who are woefully underemployed and barely hanging on. And sometimes a homeless shelter is their last resort.

fallingwhilereading 8 years ago

Kansans never fail to amaze me with their ignorances, hippocracies, and prediiousses

fallingwhilereading 8 years ago

Kansans never fail to amaze me with their ignorances, hippocracies, and prediiousses

fallingwhilereading 8 years ago

beel Your mad the homeless are doing the samething you are? Can you even look at porn on the library pc's?

fallingwhilereading 8 years ago

oneeye You are definately not the smartest peanut in the turd. If it was a club house? Why wouldn't we all move in to the shelter. If thats what you think it is move on in, and enjoy. I think you will be suprised what itis really is like there.

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