Archive for Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lawrence Community Shelter leaders consider reopening search for new site

February 15, 2011


One day after a district court judge dealt their plans a setback, Lawrence Community Shelter leaders conceded a project to relocate the homeless shelter to a site near the Douglas County Jail may have to be scrapped.

Leaders of the shelter stopped just short of declaring their plans to move the shelter from downtown to a vacant warehouse at 3701 Franklin Park Circle dead, but said they were considering reopening their search for a new site.

“We disagree strongly with Judge Pokorny’s decision, but obviously we must live with it as we begin once again the search for a suitable location supported by the community,” said John Tacha, chairman of the shelter’s board of directors.

Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny dismissed a lawsuit Monday afternoon that shelter leaders had hoped would clear the way for the shelter to move from its current site at 10th and Kentucky streets.

Instead, Monday’s dismissal left a cloud of uncertainty regarding whether long-standing private covenants would prevent the shelter from locating in the business park.

Shelter director Loring Henderson said Tuesday that what is certain is the Lawrence Community Shelter will continue efforts to build a new shelter somewhere.

“We are sticking with this,” Henderson said. “It is important that the community have a homeless shelter, and it will have a homeless shelter. We have raised money, and we will provide a shelter based on the donations we have received and will receive in the future.”

Henderson said he did not want to say yet that the organization was abandoning all efforts to move forward at the 3701 Franklin Park Circle site.

“I just want to say that we’re exploring all our options,” Henderson said.

But Henderson said one option not under consideration is staying at its 10th and Kentucky location for the long term.

“That is not an option,” Henderson said. “It absolutely is not. It is an inadequate building for what we want to do.”

City Hall officials soon will face several key decisions about the 10th and Kentucky shelter. The special use permit for the shelter expires in April. Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners will consider a one-year renewal of the permit at its Feb. 23 meeting. City commissioners will make the final decision on the permit in March.

When city commissioners last renewed the permit — over the objection of several neighbors — they said they expected the shelter to be well on its way to moving to a new location when the permit next came up for renewal.

Tuesday evening Mayor Mike Amyx said the court ruling created a new complication.

“We will have to listen to all the concerns,” Amyx said of likely objections that will come from neighbors near 10th and Kentucky. “But we also have to take into consideration what has changed with the shelter’s operations and what could change to improve the shelter’s operations.”

Henderson said he’ll just try to provide assurances to planning and city commissioners that the shelter doesn’t want to stay at the location for the long term.

“I don’t want to stay in this building,” Henderson said. “I’ll tell the Planning Commission and the City Commission that.”

Shelter leaders on Tuesday also were working to assure donors that efforts to build a new shelter were still financially sound. The judge dismissed the case, in part, because the shelter had not completed the $2 million deal to purchase the vacant warehouse. The court also noted that a bank loan for the project had not been finalized.

But Henderson said getting money to purchase the building has not been a concern. He said the shelter has raised about $1.6 million thus far, and has had very positive discussions with a bank about financing the rest of the project. He said the shelter has a donor who has agreed to act as a guarantor to pay off the loan, if for some reason future donations don’t materialize.

Henderson said the project has received donations from about 200 different donors thus far.

“To say that we weren’t in a position to purchase the building is incorrect,” Henderson said. “Our donors should be assured that we intend to use the money that has been given to us to purchase a shelter in Lawrence.”


David Holroyd 7 years, 3 months ago

So Henderson does not want to stay in that building at 10th and Kentucky because why?

The owner has a nice sprinkler system paid for by the city/and/or the shelter. So the owner now benefits from a free sprinkler system.

What is planned for the buildling? This ploy by Henderson to talk of moving is just another excuse for another "conditional use" permit.

Henderson and Tacha have big ideas and NO money and have let this go on for far too long.

Mayor Amyx needs to pull the plug. Quit riding the fence, Mr. Mayor! Nothing has changed, it is business as usual at 10th and Kentucky.

frank mcguinness 7 years, 3 months ago

You obviously have no Idea what you are talking about.

He has raised 1.6mil of a 2.0,mil project.
That is over 75% of the money.

I personally saw George Stephanopolous write a 500k check so the this is no joke.

Oneeye_wilbur is loco. Go see a shrink.

frank mcguinness 7 years, 3 months ago

"He said the shelter has a donor who has agreed to act as a guarantor to pay off the loan, if for some reason future donations don’t materialize."

Is George Stephanapolous (sp) the Guarantor?


Amy Heeter 7 years, 3 months ago

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

The only solution (alleviation would be a better term) to this problem has to be a national/state/local partnership.

But nationally, the solution is to sweep it under a rug, even though we don't have a rug.

Don't expect the slack to be picked up locally or state-wise.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 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!!!

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

Agree. I don't question their sincerity, but I do have doubts over the ability of the leadership to (1) formulate a cogent plant that realistically addresses the issues (2) follow through with the plan. "

The location of the shelter has been a major issue in Lawrence for several years now. With the recent court ruling, it looks like we are all back to square one.

Ed Dutton and Ben Zimmerman, KU Social Work Professors who have since passed, knew what they were doing. The current administration appears to be rank amateurs.

I believe new leadership is in order, but I don't see it happening. Too much vanity and ego involved.

geekin_topekan 7 years, 3 months ago

Maybe Loring should consider creating a faith-based shelter.

Heck, the gubner would jump aboard that ship!! Bring them to ChristJesus (Pron. Jay-Zus) since that is where Kansas' head is at these days

Bring them to the lord and put your conservative money where your mouth is Kansas..

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

I'd like to see a public debate on whether it is advisable to continue with the "wet shelter" concept. I have no problems with helping these folks get their lives back in order at public expense. And while I am not an expert, I don't see how we can help the chronics turn around their lives if we offer no incentive to modify their destructive addictions. Alcohol and drug addiction is a difficult disease to overcome. However, a small number of addicts do recover. I would think our goal should be increasing the success rate of recovery, a difficult proposition within the context a "wet shelter."

I did quick search on the internet and found that many cities are moving away from the pure "wet shelter" philosophy, and have had better success in rehabilitating their clients.

Why aren't we trying the same methods locally? Or are we? Anyone have any answers?

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 3 months ago

I haven't yet found a re-hab center that lets you continue to drink and/or use drugs. If they want to help those who are addicted, any expert on addiction will tell you it takes a tough stance. Tie the assistance to sobriety and it'll work. Not 100% of the time, but a lot more often than when you are enabling a continued destructive lifestyle.

Deb Engstrom 7 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately many shelters use some sort of breathalyzer for admission. so then if someone fails the test they are sent back out into the streets to freeze to death, or break into a building or die in a car.

somebodynew 7 years, 3 months ago

Here is an idea - since the Judge didn't rule whether the convenants actually would stop the building, just that the Shelter doesn't have standing due to not owning the building. Why doesn't the current owner file the lawsuit claiming he can't sell his property until this matter is cleared up???? He/she clearly has "Standing" and is clearly affected since he can't complete the sale of his property.

Or does the owner just not really care if the Shelter buys it???

irvan moore 7 years, 3 months ago

i find it interesting the shelter has made this an adversarial issue with neighborhoods. the homeless want to be in the downtown area and near services, the neighborhoods want them in the downtown area. the only people who don't want them downtown are the merchants and the commissioners.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

have you considered the possibility that folks who shop downtown are in agreement with the merchants and commissioners.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

Those working with the homeless (I did a few years back) are in a position to distinguish between individuals who are mentally ill and deserve services, individuals who have had something major happen to them like job loss or health issue that has caused homelessness (also deserving of services) and the chronic substance abuser moocher who does not deserve services. It is sad but true that service providers are themselves least inclined to make those distinctions. Why? Because they would lose funding if the numbers served was reduced by say a third. And that is why there is so much resistance to eliminating services to the chronically homeless. Making the above choices is tough and not everyone will agree with my position. I know, it a value choice and not everyone will share my values. But the service providers must in good conscience act according to the wishes of the money providers. And I believe the overwhelming majority a taxpayers do not want our money wasted on those parts of the homeless community that has no desire to transition into permanent housing by getting clean and sober and getting a job.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

Interesting observation. Now, what can we do to remedy it?

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

The service providers and especially the leadership within them need to hear the voices of the taxpayers. We do not want to fund a wet shelter. We do not want to fund the lifestyle of the long term chronically homeless. However, we do want to serve the mentally ill and those who find themselves temporarily homeless. A good start would be to shift the funding to Bert Nash while asking them to administer services to homeless mentally ill. Then fund the housing agency and charge them with providing services to people who are temporarily homeless. That leaves just the chronically homeless and substance abusers. I suspect most people would be o.k. with them being shipped off to some far off place where if there is interest, they can be served by a wet shelter or whatever. Or Greyhound therapy, or jail, or under some bridge of their own choosing. As long as they take no taxpayer dollars and don't bother the good citizens of our community.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

Works for me. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

sallyone 7 years, 3 months ago

I say keep it downtown, its already one of the dirtiest places in lawrence with no place to park. No point in scuzzying up another part of town!

irvan moore 7 years, 3 months ago

i do believe that a lot of people downtown do not want to see or coexist with the homeless downtown, i don't think that trumps neighborhood rights/safety. i also feel compassion for those who are not able to take care of themselves but i don't think Lawrence should be a dumping ground for vagrants and transients. the shelter needs bodies to justify funding so increasing numbers benefit their agenda.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't disagree with you. If the shelter's policies were intellectually honest, it would be working towards a point where its existence would ultimately be rendered obsolete. Instead, it’s headed in the opposition direction. The famed 19th century sociologist Max Weber would probably characterize it as the "bureaucratic imperative," i.e., an organization's desire to perpetuate itself ultimately overwhelms its professed mission.

Jeff Cuttell 7 years, 3 months ago

Many of the homeless have a job near downtown-- baking dog treats. Something near there or easy to travel from is best. What about the lower level of the old Riverfront Mall or out at the old Tangier Mall? I look at it as they are already downtown and will continue to travel downtown anyway. It makes no sense to move them miles away and open up the possibility that they travel through all neighborhoods in between to get there. Find a solution that works for all. The neighborhood downtown has had this downtown for years so property values wouldn't change for them.

conservative 7 years, 3 months ago

Henderson has no credibility when it comes to his pledges on how the shelter will change. We've seen him promise changes yearly in order to get permit renewals but the shelter goes on in the same way. If the board is serious about wanting to move forward they should remove henderson, make the shelter a dry instead of wet shelter, only offer services to people with ties to the community, and hold the recipents accountable for following the programs designed to help them become self-sufficient again.

Bob Forer 7 years, 3 months ago

I am far from conservative. But I couldn't agree with you more.

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

He should take $1 Million and buy the Masonic Temple. Then he could take the other million and remodel it into living quarters. The basement has a huge kitchen/dining hall. They could even put on skits after fixing Lawrence's first Reuter Organ. I don't know if it has an elevator, but one could be installed for about $50 grand. The homeless could also use the elevator as a toilet.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

The "wet" concept has proved to be very successful; for examples look at Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

Mike Myers 7 years, 3 months ago

I think since we are going to close Pinckney School that the homeless shelter could be moved there. Nice and close to the river, a park and the hospital. Done deal.

Clark Coan 7 years, 3 months ago

There are some vacant industrial buildings at 9th & Delaware. 800 block of Delaware and east of there along the railroad tracks. That would be a good location since it's not right next to houses but still close enough to the food kitchens downtown.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.