Archive for Monday, February 14, 2011

Judge rules against Lawrence homeless shelter; move away from downtown up in the air

February 14, 2011, 5:12 p.m. Updated February 14, 2011, 5:42 p.m.


The Lawrence Community Shelter’s efforts to relocate to an industrial park near the Douglas County Jail have been dealt a legal setback.

Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny on Monday afternoon dismissed a lawsuit that shelter officials had hoped would clear the way for the shelter to move from downtown to a vacant warehouse at 3701 Franklin Park Circle.

At issue in the case was whether long-standing, private covenants prohibited a homeless shelter from operating in the industrial park. Pokorny did not rule directly on that issue, but rather said the shelter did not have the proper legal standing to bring the case forward.

The ruling left unclear what would happen to the shelter’s plans to move from 10th and Kentucky streets in downtown. Shelter Director Loring Henderson declined to comment on the ruling or the next steps for the shelter, since he had not yet seen the decision issued by the court.

Steve Glass — a Lawrence businessman and member of the industrial park’s board of trustees who have argued the covenants prevent a homeless shelter — said he hoped the shelter would re-open its search for a location.

“I think there are probably other locations that would work for them,” Glass said. “But the reality is they perhaps need to change their approach a little bit about how they run the shelter, and their approach in how they are trying to find a location.”

Shelter leaders filed the lawsuit in an effort to clear up any question about whether the shelter could locate in the vacant warehouse. The business park’s board of trustees have argued the covenants allow only business, industrial and governmental uses to locate in the park. They contend, among other issues, that the shelter is prohibited because it is a residential use.

Pokorny did not decide that key issue. Instead, the judge said that because the shelter had not yet completed the $2 million purchase of the building — and doesn’t yet have all of its bank financing finalized — the lawsuit was premature.

“This court agrees with LCS it would be helpful and convenient to know how the court would rule if and when LCS is in a position to purchase the property, however, this court is not in the business of issuing advisory opinions,” Pokorny wrote.

If the shelter is unable to move to the new location, questions about the shelter’s future in downtown also are likely to arise. The shelter’s special use permit that allows it to operate downtown is set to expire this spring. When city commissioners last renewed the permit — over the objection of neighbors — they did so with the expectation that the shelter would be well on its way to a new location when the permit came back up for renewal. Whether city commissioners will be willing to issue another long-term permit for the shelter at the northeast corner of 10th and Kentucky street location is uncertain.


Andini 7 years, 2 months ago

Borders would be a good location. They could then just rename it to Boarders.

Hwy50 7 years, 2 months ago

Considering their likely bankruptcy, you never know what might happen.

coloradoan 7 years, 2 months ago

Leave the books and it could be the new Library!

Flap Doodle 7 years, 2 months ago

Save the stump! Oh, wait, too late for that.

Brian Blevins 7 years, 2 months ago

Men and or women who suffer from some kind of addiction like alcoholism are allowed to come in at night and get out of the weather.

hail2oldku 7 years, 2 months ago

That's not exactly the way I understood it.

I thought a wet shelter would allow you to stay overnight regardless of whether you had been drinking or using (and quite likely still under the influence to some extent) while a dry shelter like the SA ran would turn you away if you were under the influence.

Just because someone is addicted doesn't necessarily mean they are drunk or stoned on a given night (regardless of how likely that event may or may not be.)

Can someone else please clarify?

TopJayhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

No, Topeka does not have "wet" shelters... That is one of the dumbest, most stupid things ever in the history of the world.

You can keep that feel good lunacy in Lawrence. Besides, we already take care of a large group of your residents. You need to hold up your end of the log, and start walking the walk instead of just talking the talk.

bad_dog 7 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence seems to provide housing for a disproportionate number of Topeka's criminals. Does that consitute holding up our end of the log?

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 2 months ago

How about we take the money raised so far, and buy bus and train tickets for anyone who would like to re-locate to where they have family/friends who are willing to take them in. I know other cites have done this with much success! If they are homeless by choice rather than circumstance, no amount or type of assistance is going to change that. It may sound harsh, but make them uncomfortable so they re-evaluate that choice. Then see if they want a bus ticket...

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

If they are homeless because of circumstance that would mean they don't have family and friends willing to take them in. If they did have family and friends willing to take them in, they'd be homeless by choice. So in effect you are saying give people who are homeless by choice bus tickets somewhere, but it won't matter because no amount or type of assistance will change that.

sr80 7 years, 2 months ago

at least i got a little post time,sorry for violation!! i think i know why,still trying to remember!

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 2 months ago

Nope, it won't. They'll still be homeless, but we won't be paying for it anymore. That's OUR choice, our response to THEIR choice.

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe you didn't understand what I was saying. You are saying help the people who aren't homeless by choice, by sending them to somebody willing to take them in. The problem is that if they had somebody willing to take them in, they would not be homeless in the first place. Do you follow? If they have nowhere to go, there is nowhere to send them.

sr80 7 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

irvan moore 7 years, 2 months ago

thanks judge, appreciate you standing up for the law and the citizens.

Brian Blevins 7 years, 2 months ago

Which citizens are you refering to. She didn't stand up for me and I pay taxes too. She didn't stand up for the law, she avoided it. She certainly didn't stand up for justice.

greenworld 7 years, 2 months ago

Why hasnt there been like 3 or 4 suggested sites for the homeless shelter?? Is this all the better they can locate the homeless is to put them out off k10 by the jail. That's like a slap in the face if you ask me. Why couldnt they suggest under both bridges next to city hall, that seems a little bit more reasonable. (sarcasm) ......I just noticed that they sure in the hell havent proposed anything out west...hint hint- dont put them near the rich side of town. here's an idea, there is an empty strip mall just down from the strip club in N lawrence, no chance of renovating that into something. Its already there, probably just needs to be gutted and a few small improvements and that would work fine. Let me guess that wouldnt work as its still to close to downtown which is where there trying to move them from.

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

Well, since they don't seem to want there to be a shelter anywhere they'll have a lot of fun when there isn't one at all. The people currently staying at the shelter aren't just going to disappear, they'll be much more visible when they are downtown panhandling and sleeping all night and day because they don't have anywhere else to go. I'm sure there will be plenty more people sleeping under those bridges and by the river close to downtown.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

Several years ago the San Francisco upgraded its homeless facilities and before they knew it, they were overwhelmed with homeless transients relocating from other other jurisdictions. Right now, Lawrence is very user friendly for homeless folks, IMHO. If the shelter would disappear tomorrow, I surmise that some of their patrons would move on to more friendly environs. Hence I disagree with your statement that "the people currently staying at the shelter aren't just going to disappear." On the contrary, some of them will. The percentage of homeless/transients remaining is unknown. Could be 90%. Could be 40 %. Pick a number, any number.

The problem I have with this homeless situation is the marked lack of transparency, and the apparent failure of the Shelter's leadership to present the citizens of Lawrence with an intellectually honest assessment and a viable long term solution. Everything appears to be hastily thrown together on a "catch as catch can" basis. It wasn't too long ago that within days of the State closing down a horrible nursing home, Mr. Henderson was cajoling the city commission for a large grant--I believe it was at least $50,000 to fund a mere option to purchase the facility. Henderson provided little to no documentation in support of his request. And this was basic stuff such as "How much is the building actually worth, how much will it cost to convert, what were zoning and neighborhood implications?, etc. etc. Call it what you like. I viewed it as a petulant arrogance.

No difference with the latest debacle. No back-up plans. Poor legal
strategizing, grossly inaccurate assessments and representations made to the City Commission. I am not suggesting that Mr. Henderson was intentionally deceitful. However, it does suggest that the problem has been negligently handled by the Shelter leadership.

I am no fan of big business or the Chamber of Commerce. But Mr. Glass appears to have been spot on when he observed: “I think there are probably other locations that would work for them. But the reality is they perhaps need to change their approach a little bit about how they run the shelter, and their approach in how they are trying to find a location.”

I am beginning to see a leadership problem just as serious as the homeless issue itself.

Brian Blevins 7 years, 2 months ago

Your assesment of the sutuation lacks the integrity of an intellegent observation. You speak as though you have some type of inside knowledge into the leadreship of the shelter, its motives and intentions. I'm curious what it is the shelter should be telling a group of people who are not listening. You want a stradegy for solving the homeless problem..ok, what do you suggest. Every attempt made to improve the situation is an incredible battle with men like you who stand at a far distance and claim some deeper insight into the well being of the citizens of Lawrence. Your simple logic is flawed. Educate yourself into the reality of what happens to a society that ignores its lower class. You speak of transparency and I am willing to bet that you have not once called Loring and asked him one single question about what he hopes to accomplish. Anyone who has asked will find the transparency they seek. That inclueds the media, commission, or just a concerned citizen. I know Loring Henderson, and there is not a decietful bone in his body. He is just a man who is smart enough to know that a community is only as good as the citizens it produces, and our community, (God help me I love Lawrence), is failing from the top. He is a servent to this community, and has earned its respect a thousand times over, and anyone who cannot recognize the type of man he is,...well there just not too bright.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

"Educate yourself into the reality of what happens to a society that ignores its lower class"


I think I know a little bit more about the matter than you do my friend. My family has been involved in the civil rights movement for three generations. Fighting the KKK in the forties takes a little more courage than "throwing the bums a dime."

And yes, I do have a little "inside knowledge" I knew Ben Zimmerman and Ed Dutton and Norm Forer long before Loring Henderson rode into town. Ben, Ed and Norm knew how to organize. I know Loring Henderson. He hasn't a clue. .

On the other hand, you have't a clue as to my identity. Polite folks in your shoes would probably keep their mouths shut before impugning the character of someone they've never met. . .

And by the way, its both demeaning and insulting to refer to any people as "lower class."

Here's a few pointers:

People who work may be referred to as "working people."

People who are homeless may be be referred to as "homeless people."

People who are African American may be referred to as "African American people."

How about that. There's a pattern. Isn't that special. .

Your assignment, son, is to take all of those "different" colors and cultures and abilities and classes, and non-Christian religions, etc all of whom you view as "lower class" and come up with a civil, dignified and proper way to address another human being.

"Lower classs" is so 1930ish.

Shame on you.

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

You say Lawrence is friendly to homeless folks in your honest opinion, and I hear a ton of people saying the same thing with no evidence or even direct experience. I've been homeless before, and Lawrence was no Emerald City. In fact, there are studies that place it as one of the least inviting to the homeless in the US, even back when the Salvation Army still had a shelter as well.

So essentially, your honest opinion isn't based in fact at all. Personally I think it is cruel to try and make them disappear by not offering them basic needs like food and shelter. If allowing people to die of exposure is an acceptable alternative to offering them shelter, then it is a truly sick state that society is in.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

Please, the organization you cite does not engage in legitimate academic research. Instead, they are an activist group which issues propaganda in support of their mission.

And by the way, I have nothing against many activist groups. IN fact, I come from three generations of social, community, and civil rights activists.

When the group you refer to skipped through town a few years ago and flippantly declared that Lawrence, Kansas was one of the most hostile cities in the country towards the homeless, I guffawed a few times and have since paid that group no attention

The outrageous libel they spewed would have made Joseph Goebbels proud.

An activist without credibility is a contradiction in terms.

I suggest you read "Rules For Radicals" by Saul Alinsky.

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

My own experience is proof enough for me, thanks.

Also, if you go ahead and click the link, it explains what methods they used to do this study. Sounds a lot more scientific than your opinion. You could of course tell us what scientific methods you've used to create your opinion, or even tell us about your direct experience being homeless here and being homeless elsewhere and why you think it is so much nicer here than elsewhere.

bad_dog 7 years, 2 months ago

Propose a viable site in west Lawrence rather than imerely nferring the topic is avoided due to per capita income of the area residents. I'm not aware of any vacant properties of sufficient size now that Hereford House is converting to a bbq joint.

Perhaps "they" haven't proposed a west Lawrence site because there isn't anything available? I know, "they" could evict all the seniors from Brandon Woods or perhaps "they" should take over Alvamar with a fake fire drill.

Jeff Cuttell 7 years, 2 months ago

How bout that empty high rise on Bob Billings?

bad_dog 7 years, 2 months ago

Bella Sera? It is at least partially occupied with resident owners and had several businesses last time I looked. I believe the property may be in foreclosure or bankruptcy at this point.

I don't see a homeless shelter as the best use of the property and establishing one there would undeniably damage the property values of those who were there first as well as the property as a whole. I seriously doubt a bankruptcy court would permit it.

hail2oldku 7 years, 2 months ago

There are several churches in west Lawrence that are participating in the family promise program so you kind of fail on that argument.

I believe a lot of it really does boil down to those in the group that are aggessive panhandlers or taking advantage (for lack of a better word) of the shelter allowing intoxicated and or in a chemically altered state of mind adding to the burden of those that would rather not be in the predicament that they face.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 2 months ago

What should be absolutely clear is that a certain percentage of the homeless population will try to transition into permanent housing, a certain percentage cannot transition (due to mental illness or some other reason) and a certain percentage has no desire to transition. It's the latter group that causes so much concern and gives a bad name to the others. Those most qualified to recognize which group is which frequently have the least incentive to make that distinction. Until the various groups are separated and treated appropriately, we will keep having problems. Each group needs to be identified and either helped with compassion when needed or tough love when that is needed.

independent_rebel 7 years, 2 months ago

You are exactly right. Until people stop treating everyone the same there is no chance that we can help those who would benefit. I'm all for helping out those who are mentally ill, or perhaps a family with kids that recently became homeless but are trying to get back on their own feet.

I have very little sympathy towards the career homeless who mooch off of the weak enablers of our community. There are too many non-residents who have come here or were brought here to mooch off of us. They deserve nothing. No free meals, no bus passes, no shelter--that is--nothing a taxpayer pays towards. If people want to help these moochers out of their own pocket it is up to them, but they need to realize just how pitiful their misguided efforts are.

Brian Blevins 7 years, 2 months ago

For a seeker of truth, you certainly like spreading deception. The attorney's are pro bono.

Munsoned 7 years, 2 months ago

That was sarcasm, Brian. Ever heard of it?

jcoozy1978 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe put a homeless people crossing sign out next to the deer crossing signs out on K 10. Moving homeless people next to a highway is about the Dumbest idea ever. First thing you see when you come into town is homeless people dodging traffic trying to cross the highway. I agree with bartstop. Load them up and relocate them to topeka.

greenworld 7 years, 2 months ago

Whats funny is somebody started a non-approved site back in the tree's years ago and the city came in and shut it down and ran everybody off. Just because people where living in tents next to the river it was deemed unsafe and not a regulated site. God cant people just leave well enough alone and realize that these people can make it with nothing living whereever without little supervision and fight out there own fights. They have been doing it for years and if they want to live outdoors like animals is there anything really wrong with that. If they need a leader, have them put Simon in charge.

notyourmom 7 years, 2 months ago

The City ran them off because people died back there.

deec 7 years, 2 months ago

As I recall, the people who died overdosed. So I guess they should close any location where someone dies of an overdose, like Greek houses or apartment complexes.

bad_dog 7 years, 2 months ago

Minor differences include the fact that those that died in frat houses & apartments were paying for the privilege of occupying the space where they died and were not trespassing.

As I recall, I believe there were also some assaults and robberies reported back there in the woods.

I know, I know. Those activities occur on campus and in apartments as well ;-)

conservative 7 years, 2 months ago

The shelters best hope for future acceptance is to oust henderson and put someone in charge that will follow through on how the community thinks the shelter should be run. Step 1 it needs to be a dry shelter. Step 2 it should be for lawrence citizens, the continuing of allowing people to stay at the shelter for up to 3 months with no ties to the community and no requirement of attending programs is a major sore spot. Step 3 come up with a system for getting people the skills and help they need to get away from the shelter and return to a situation that allows them to take care of themselves.

Bingoj1 7 years, 2 months ago

They need to look at other much better-run shelters in Kansas City such as the City Union MIssion and the Kansas City Rescue Mission. Both are "dry" shelters and are there to serve the people that actually want help and to better themselves. They have solid reputations and require their guests to work a program leading to self-sufficiency. They instill a sense of pride in the people they serve and those people want to give back to the facility and to the community. The community does not have a problem with these shelters because guests are held accountable. Not everyone wants help but it should be available to those that do. If the Lawrence shelter were not viewed as a "flop house" footed by taxpayers, they would have a much easier go of things.

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree. It would be much better off as a dry shelter. Often in places that have only dry shelters they will offer "wet" shelter services when the weather becomes too harsh. They allow everybody in during the emergency situations, such as it becoming cold enough that the risk of death becomes much higher. I wouldn't be opposed to a system like that. Much better to spend those funds on people who are trying to improve their situation than those who will not.

Munsoned 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree. Why re-invent the wheel when successful models already exist. I doubt any staff of any successful shelter would have a problem with sharing thier ideas, lessons learned, and offer advice on how to get started to any interested group.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 2 months ago

Been here many moons and still don't understand people who think a wet shelter in a college town doesn't attract the criminal homeless.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"“This court agrees with LCS it would be helpful and convenient to know how the court would rule if and when LCS is in a position to purchase the property, however, this court is not in the business of issuing advisory opinions,” Pokorny wrote."

Sounds like a judge who'd rather have someone else make the hard decision.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

The judge was probably legally justified in dismissing the lawsuit, as the rule against issuing "advisory opinions" is well established in American Common Law. Instead of blaming the judge for "ducking" the issue, I think blame is better directed towards the Shelter's attorney who failed to anticipate this obstacle before filing the lawsuit.

There were better ways for the shelter to handle this. The shelter could have waited until the additional funding was secured and a legally binding real estate contract executed contingent on the court approving the alleged variance. Obtaining a $400,000 seems like an obstacle more complicated than simply "waiting for the paperwork to be completed."

Seems to me Mr. Henderson may have approached the problem with a somewhat cavalier attitude.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 2 months ago

There are homeless / panhandlers downtown, so it makes sense that the shelter is there. How in the world are 'homeless' supposed to get out to this new location? Hitchhike? I guess they could get themselves thrown in jail, then they'd be in just the right spot.

Not even the empty buses go out to that area...

7 years, 2 months ago

Actually, route 5 goes down K-10 to the industrial park and back. It's quite popular.

Heather Perry 7 years, 2 months ago

i agree with right wing...lets make vagrancy a felony. Problem solved.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

And then you really do get to feed and house them, at about $50,000 a year apiece.

How do you like your solution now?

BigPrune 7 years, 2 months ago

what about buying one of our hotels? Georgia Stephenopolopolis could buy it.

gbulldog 7 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence has the ability to be creative to alleviate homelessness. Of couse, the Liberals would be aghast if a systems could be developed to elimnate the need for "soup kitchen" and facilities to house the homeless. Many of the homeless, except the mental ill dumped on the streets by "do gooders" and State budget cuts, can become productive members the city of Lawrence. However the program would need to be voluntary (any one and their families who chose not to particiapate would be run out of town) and would be taught the skills to live and a decent plce to sleep as a famility, provide they worked either at the facility or out side. The work, would finance the place and pay expenses. It would also provide services for those willing to work outside the facility. If Lawrence could develop such a model, what a great sevice it would do for our nation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

The devil is in the details. But you don't concern yourself with details much, do you?

deec 7 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like one of those places Dickens wrote about. Seriously, a lot of working families are a couple of paychecks from homelessness due to the high cost of housing and low wages. Unemployment is still very high in the U.S. It's difficult to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps if one hasn't any boots.

naturenut 7 years, 2 months ago

I guess they assume if we have no homeless shelter, we will eliminate homelessness. How is it that the jail is not seen as residential?

geekin_topekan 7 years, 2 months ago

I see another "temporary" extension to the present site. Then another...

I must agree 100% that the so-called NEW rules that the shelter would operate under must be implemented now. Idle promises are pointless (just ask an indian) until they are put into effect.

If the new shelter is to be dry, then why not start it right now?

I see a detox facility coming out of todays ruling. One that is long overdue.

CHKNLTL 7 years, 2 months ago

if property owners of vacant real estate were able to obtain large tax credits from the city/fed govt. to house the homeless i bet the ho-hum tune of this worn out song would change to a song and dance for the rich ---tax write-offs, yay!

lawrencenerd 7 years, 2 months ago

So, tenants that don't pay rent or put down a security deposit? Would have to be a very large tax credit to make it worth it. People tend to value things more that they actually have to pay for. You don't destroy the carpet in the place you are renting for fear of losing your deposit. If you don't need to put down a deposit, why would you care about keeping the property in good shape?

bd 7 years, 2 months ago

lets see $2 million for the new building divided by 200 homeless is $10 grand a each, sound good to me.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

the judge did not rule against the shelter locating to the site

couldBmeorU 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree that we need to separate residents at the facility .And yes they are residents!No matter how they came to be at that address is not to be judged.I have lived in Lawrence for 20 years and have met many different people.When I first came to Lawrence the homeless(characters)were part of Lawrence.We now have People from an upper class clientele /residents that are embarrassed by their fellow Jayhawkers situations.We shut down the Salvation Army.We want to clean up downtown.What happened to the street musicians?We have to wait till a grand sidewalk sale to see all the different (characters}.Really do the homeless citizens embarrass you that much or do you fear them.Wow move to LA and try to find some hometown pride.I guess a arcade or a movie theater may attract the wrong people ,downtown.Personally Downtown sucks compared to 15 years ago.No Pride just dollars.Embrace your town People that is if your from Lawrence.If not close your eyes to the poverty that you choose to witness when YOU moved to our town.

Richard Payton 7 years, 2 months ago

Don't blame the Po Judge. Every Korny law has rules.

blindrabbit 7 years, 2 months ago

There are workable positive outcome shelters all over the U.S., including the one in Topeka. The Lawrence City Commission toured that (Topeka) facility several years ago, learned much but adopted none of those concepts. Lawrence continues to gloss over the homeless situation by providing little long-term positive outcomes for their homeless clients. Being a "liberal" (Progressive) myself, I am ticked by the way The City and Mr. Henderson at the Drop-in Shelter have avoided the corrective issues. The do-gooders in town continue to provide a easy route to continued bad performance. Where are the incentives!!! We don't need Mr. Stepanopolis to comment on something he knows little about!

Liberty275 7 years, 2 months ago

Relocate them to the library and send the overflow to merril's and bozo's houses.

Clovis Sangrail 7 years, 2 months ago

Isn't Alvamar Country Club still up for sale? It's a perfect place. House them in tents along the fairway and around the parking lot. There's a kitchen already there for feeding them, plus locker and shower facilties.

Keep the gold course, pro shop and food service open, and they can even learn trades -- gold course maintenance, retail sales, and the exciting and fast-paced food and beverage industry.

bad_dog 7 years, 2 months ago

Pony up a mere 14 million and it's all yours!

Jean1183 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with geekin_topekan, implement the "new" rules NOW at the current shelter location. If it will make such a big difference then maybe so many wouldn't be opposed when a different location IS found.

bad_dog 7 years, 2 months ago

If you're referring to Alvamar, again it'll cost you 14 million. Then you need to completely remodel the existing building to make it fit for residential purposes, compliant with ADA requirements, security needs, etc., etc..

Doesn't seem like a prudent investment to me, particularly given the purchase price for the location by the jail was ~ 2 million.

Perhaps if you offered 13.5 million and threw in a few spare exclamation points for added incentive...

oldbaldguy 7 years, 2 months ago

Courts cannot make advisory opinions. The legal staff for the shelter screwed the pooch. I agree with Bingo, look at how City Missions runs its program. The popular impression of the Lawrence shelter, is it is a drop in for drunks and junkies. Maynot be true but preception is reality. How did Lawrence get in this positon in the first place? Olathe or Overland Park appear not to have this issue.

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