Archive for Friday, April 29, 2011

Homelessness on the rise in Douglas County, new report shows

April 29, 2011


The number of people who are homeless is increasing in Douglas County, and so are the odds that they’re female, a new report from City Hall suggests.

Homeless totals in early 2011 grew to 226 people — up from 104 in 2009 — according to an official “point-in-time” count conducted by city and county leaders once every two years.

The survey also found that the number of women who are homeless increased sharply, rising to 44 percent in 2011 compared with 25 percent in 2009.

Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, said the numbers were a mixed bag.

“I don’t think the number of homeless people has really grown at all,” he said. “I just think the count is better. I don’t know that you can rely on 226 being a good number either, but it is better.”

Henderson said he thinks the new report does a better job of showing who is homeless and some of the reasons why. He agrees with the finding that women have become a larger percentage of the homeless population. That also means more children. The latest report found 69 children who were homeless.

“Our numbers at the shelter haven’t shown quite that big of an increase, but there definitely are more women and more families.”

Other findings from the study include:

• 33 adults and three families met the definition of being chronically homeless, which means they have been homeless for one year or more, or have had at least four instances of homelessness in the past three years and have a disabling condition.

• 30 percent of the homeless counted in the survey were found to have a severe mental illness.

• 23 percent of the homeless said they had a physical disability or illness; 22 percent said they suffered from chronic drug abuse; 21 percent from chronic alcohol abuse; and 4 percent from a developmental disability.

The count was taken on Jan. 26, but results were released on Friday. The count includes only people who are “literally homeless,” which is different from some other homeless counts. Some counts include people who are “doubling up” by sleeping on a friend’s couch or a similar situation. This count only includes people who are staying in an emergency shelter, transitional housing or are sleeping in cars, under bridges or other places not meant for human habitation.


irvan moore 6 years, 8 months ago

it would be interesting to know if this dramatic increase is due to "local" people becomming homeless or if it is because more homeless people are moving to Lawrence.

50YearResident 6 years, 8 months ago

Word is getting out, Lawrence is a homeless paradise.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

"The homeless" need to be separated by whether they deserve services or not. Service providers are loathe to impose values on others, but this tax payer sure wishes it was done. People with severe mental health disorders deserve services. People with developmental disabilities deserve services. Children deserve services. Those addicted to drugs and alcohol need tough love, but not services. If money spent on them were spent on those who do deserve services, then the deserving would receive enhanced services.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Define "tough love."

And what do you think is going to happen to those who don't respond as you think they should? Will they just magically disappear?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

It's not where I think they should go. It's wherever they choose to go. It's not my business to tell them to live here or there. It's not my business to tell them how to live. I don't presume to know how they should live their lives. I'm saying they are not deserving of services that could be better spent on others who are more deserving. The choices they make and the consequences, both good and bad, are theirs to make. Some will choose to stop using drugs and alcohol, some won't. We can take educated guesses as to the consequences of each. But in the end, it's their choice.

TheYetiSpeaks 6 years, 8 months ago

As long as mental health programs and centers lose funding the homeless numbers will go up. I worked with the homeless population for a few years and I can say unequivocally that the ones with mental problems far outnumber the ones that were simply lazy (although they certainly exist). Every action has an appropriate effect.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

I too worked with homeless adults for two years. My experience was very different, though I must admit I worked in a large city in another state.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

yeti name an actual service which has been cut so far. Cutback, not cuts in programs are different.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Obomba for creating so many jobs!

tomcats 6 years, 8 months ago

"YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME" Stop building homeless shelters. They know that we will take care of them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

And if we do as you suggest? Will they all get jobs on Wall Street and live in Manhattan penthouses?

Sunny Parker 6 years, 8 months ago

It would tear you up to even think about someone having more than you wouldn't it? Just maybe if Obomba would create jobs like he promised, there might be less living off working americans tax dollars!

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