Archive for Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lawrence Community Shelter’s numbers way up with cold weather

The Lawrence Community Shelter,  214 W. 10th St., sees an increase of those needing a place to stay when winter temperatures drop.

The Lawrence Community Shelter, 214 W. 10th St., sees an increase of those needing a place to stay when winter temperatures drop.

January 25, 2011


Falling temperatures have created rising numbers for the Lawrence Community Shelter, so much so that on many nights the homeless shelter is operating out of three downtown locations.

Shelter director Loring Henderson said that on many nights the shelter has housed more than 100 people in order for homeless people to remain out of the bitter cold.

“We’ve been consistently around 90 people and sometimes up to 110 people,” Henderson said. “Because of the extreme cold weather being so steady, it has been pretty tough for quite a few folks.”

The shelter’s building at 10th and Kentucky streets can house 76 people during the winter months. But the shelter is taking advantage of a zoning change approved for the Family Promise program that allows churches to temporarily house 15 people overnight.

That allows the shelter to partner with area churches to serve as overflow homeless shelters. Henderson occasionally used that system of temporary overflow shelters last winter, but he said he’s been forced to use it much more frequently this year.

The shelter has operated three locations — the shelter’s main building plus two downtown churches — 20 nights during the last six weeks. Henderson said the shelter last winter only had such demand on two or three occasions.

In addition to the cold weather, an increase in the number of families has added to crowding. Henderson on Monday said the shelter was serving five families with a total of about 10 children and nine adults. He said the poor economy is leading to more families at the shelter, but he also said the number of victims of domestic abuse also seems to be on the rise.

“I believe that when the economy is bad, domestic abuse may increase,” Henderson said. “People’s tempers get on edge.”

The shelter has agreements with four downtown churches — Plymouth Congregational Church, First United Methodist Church, Trinity Lutheran Church and The Salvation Army — to use their facilities when nighttime temperatures are 32 degrees or below.

The city also allows a temporary increase in occupancy of the shelter’s main building from 53 to 76 people during the winter months. That expanded occupancy is set to end on March 31. But Henderson said he is asking for the higher occupancy to be allowed all year.

He said even when the weather is not cold, the demand for shelter space is often above 53 people. He said the shelter has shown that it can safely house 76 people, and it is difficult for people to understand why they are sometimes turned away.

“Operating a lottery system to determine who has a place to sleep at night is harsh,” Henderson said.

City officials are expected to deal with the request in the coming months. The shelter’s special use permit at 10th and Kentucky is set to expire in April.

The shelter is looking to move from its 10th and Kentucky site to a vacant warehouse near the Douglas County Jail in eastern Lawrence. But that move won’t be completed by April. Henderson, though, anticipates this will be the last special use permit the shelter will seek downtown.

“We want to be open in the new location by the end of the year,” Henderson said.

The proposed eastern Lawrence site, though, is the subject of a lawsuit. A Douglas County District Court judge is set to hear arguments next week in a case regarding whether private covenants prohibit the shelter from locating on the eastern Lawrence property.


orangechubb 3 years, 2 months ago

Good post. I wish it could be reality.


gbulldog 3 years, 2 months ago

I have volunteed at a facility that helps feed the "needy" and have seen the misery. Even though I would like to improve their situation,, I have come to the realization the most of the "clients": (politically coorect name for persons using the services) will need to better themselves or society will need to care for them the rest of their lives. Recently I received this following in an email. It makes a lot of sense, so State legislators, and local governments, and charities and liberals will probably ignore the following and therefore waste a lot of taxpayer money and charitable giving to promote helping people who are unwilling to take personal responsibility..

"Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of sweets and sugary things; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese, and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza ..... get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings .... get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your "home" will be subject to inspections anytime, and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360 .... get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good."

Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules.

Before you say this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago when taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices."


ophiuchus 3 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps we could build a clueless shelter for some of the above commenters.


asittingup 3 years, 2 months ago

After reading all of the posts, I can see how many of you are frustrated with the homeless. It is never easy to watch people who seem hopeless destroy themselves with alcohol and substances. Without trying to upset any of you who believe addiction is not a real illness, try to stop working and letting the daily grind of life control you. Then maybe you can understand how difficult it would be to quit something that has complete control of your life. To be alive is a choice. Don't sit on your pedestals and think to yourself you are better because you choose to be what you perceive as success. Someone is looking down on you too.


kernal 3 years, 2 months ago

Evidently, some of the residents decided a back room could be used for smoking embalming fluid the past couple of days. Glad they didn't burn the place down.


GSWtotheheart 3 years, 2 months ago

who is this jesus you are talking about and why would you base anything in your life on what he might want? I blow out the candles on birthday cakes so I guess it's the same kind of slightly hopeful wishing thing but I really do not see the point in worrying about WWJD


SWJayhawk13 3 years, 2 months ago

Why are victims of domestic violence being diverted to the homeless shelter? Is the domestic violence shelter full also?


greenworld 3 years, 2 months ago

Well the city got the homeless off Mass st and moved them two blocks to the west. That really gets rid of them. Most of them can walk back up to Mass st I think and beg for more money. So I thought there was no homeless shelter. I knew this place was there but didnt know it was called a homeless shelter?? So the projected site way out of K10 is still stalling I assume?? God why dont they just tell the homeless to go dig a hole and bury themselves.


sallyone 3 years, 2 months ago

Indeed,it is sad to read so many of these comments. It seems the more 'advanced' our society becomes the farther from humanity it goes.


skinny 3 years, 2 months ago

Cater to them and they will come! Then they will steal from you!


Healthcare_Moocher 3 years, 2 months ago

Alceste nailed it. Nothing will change unless they clean house. Henderson, the board and those who surround them have established themselves as enablers, perpetuating the drunken lifestyle of these vagrents, at the expense of the taxpayer, donors and whomever else they can hoodwink into providing for everyone involved's lifestyle. The new shelter, as well as the old shelter, have very little to do with helping families and others who are deserving (How about helping those from our zipcode), it has everything to do with generating more funding for the boozers and loosers that provide Henderson with his source of income.


BigPrune 3 years, 2 months ago

I just don't see the homeless moving from the downtown IF the warehouse gets approval.


Alceste 3 years, 2 months ago

Out of over 100 people: "...Henderson on Monday said the shelter was serving five families with a total of about 10 children and nine adults....".

19 has got to be an all time high for that place. It's primary focus, seemingly, is to provide shelter for those who have made "homelessness" a LIFESTYLE; a choice.

This "shelter" is a dismal failure in doing anything OTHER than providing sheets. That's it. No interface with public welfare outfits for the provision of "programming" for these men (and a handful of women) who have made the decision to seek the eternal free lunch on that infamous highway to hell.

Shame on You Lawrence and that "school" of "Social Welfare" up on snob hill for your failure to do the right thing. What's been going on for the longest period of time is nothing more than a "place" for these guys to go to.....there is no mandate to "participate" in "programming". Send these guys on down that highway.....Lawrence has done all it can do for them. Close that shelter as it is presently and until "their" "Board" figures out the proper way to run such a facility:

In the first place there must be "ground rules" to the occupants who understand that the use of the facility is isn't a simple open door that one can use whenever desired. As it is at present, there is no "maximum number of nights" a body can stay at that place. What incentive is there for these guys to NOT rely up L.I.N.K. for food and that "shelter" for sheets at night? Nationwide we know that the homeless population is mostly made up of mentally ill people AND a very close second are graduates of our Nation's superior foster care system. However, that is NOT the case here in Lawrence. The vast majority who rely upon L.I.N.K. and that shelter are able bodied men who, again, have made a LIFE STYLE CHOICE. Let them live with this choice.


distant_voice 3 years, 2 months ago

But for the grace of God, there go I.


Paul R Getto 3 years, 2 months ago

So sad to see these comments. Whom would the great ESSENE teacher allow to freeze to death? I hope those who carry debt on their houses have a back up plan. Those who do if they haven't been really careful are 3-4 missed paychecks from the streets.


Jean1183 3 years, 2 months ago

Build it and they will come.


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