Archive for Wednesday, March 7, 2012

City approves $100K for shelter

March 7, 2012


Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday approved an unbudgeted $100,000 worth of funding to the Lawrence Community Shelter after hearing the homeless shelter was in a “crisis” situation.

Joe Baker, treasurer of the shelter’s board, told commissioners that without the $100,000 in city funding, the shelter likely would be broke for an extended period of time in April before receiving its next round of grant funding.

“Honestly, I’m not sure how the shelter has survived with the revenue stream it has had,” said Baker.

City commissioners approved the $100,000 in funding on a 4-1 vote but did not make any commitment to provide funding for future years. Commissioners agreed to take the money out of a $300,000 reserve account that is funded by proceeds from the city’s share of the liquor drink tax.

Mayor Aron Cromwell also told the shelter board that he would be more interested in providing future city funding if it were structured in the form of a challenge grant where the public would have to make a certain amount of pledges before the city provided funding.

The shelter successfully raised $3.1 million to buy and renovate a building near the Douglas County Jail in eastern Lawrence to replace its current downtown shelter, which leaders have said is too small. Expenses related to finding that site have depleted the organization’s reserves, but shelter leaders said they plan to be aggressive in future fundraising to help with operational expenses.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx voted against the funding request, saying now was not the right time for the city to be making unbudgeted expenditures.

In other news, commissioners met for one hour in executive session to discuss the possible acquisition of real estate. After the session, commissioners directed city staff to craft a public statement to be released about the matter in the near future.

Multiple sources tell the Journal-World the city is working to craft a joint statement with Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self to support the idea of a major youth fieldhouse/recreation center in northwest Lawrence.

It has been speculated the project would be on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway, and would involve the city receiving a donation of 40 to 50 acres of property from a development group led by Steve and Duane Schwada.


Steve Jacob 5 years, 10 months ago

Bigger shelter means more in operational cost, I hope the council knew that when they gave them the money to build the bigger place.

Kookamooka 5 years, 10 months ago

Too bad we can't hit Turner Gill up for 100k of his multimillion dollar severance package. Life is too unfair.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

Sure. For starters, a dry shelter. No matter how you define it, this is charity. And charity requires that those receiving the charity use that charity in a way that the giver approves of. A dry shelter would get greater community support, and with that a better chance that those that are clean and sober will get better services, hopefully ending the cycle of homelessness. A number of years ago, a well intentioned idea came around, one that has become an unmitigated failure. It's time to admit defeat and try another approach. The issue of which I speak is deinstitutionalization of those with severe and chronic mental illnesses with the hope of providing community based services in their home community. As I said, it was a good idea, made with the best of intentions. However, it has failed. I can't imagine that those with severe and chronic schizophrenia wandering our streets, dirty and disheveled, hungry, talking to their inner voices, in the cold rain and snow is what anyone envisioned. Another approach is needed. Another commitment. Part of that commitment must be that those with severe mental illnesses be separated from another well intentioned group, that of those who refuse to stay clean and sober. Like it or not, admit it or not, but there are some who are simply choosing this as a lifestyle. I know. I worked with homeless adults and I worked with adults with severe and chronic mental illnesses. Unfortunately, those social workers who are in the best position to make the distinction between the two groups have the least incentive to do so. (Much like Dick Cheney and his buddies making energy policy decisions). I just don't trust them because of the huge potential for conflict of interest. (What would the shelter budget look like if it were run as a dry shelter? One less social worker, one less secretary, one less computer, one less desk, etc.).

Gee, Bozo, I wrote all that and then read your comment again. I missed the word "final". Here I thought you were wanting to engage in an intelligent discussion. That's not your style, is it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

None of what you suggest will come without spending the money it takes to get there.

Too many have this idea that if we just ignore the homeless, they'll go "away." The reality is that the only way they'll go "away" is if there is indeed a final solution. That's already been tried (in many places, not just WWII Europe) and it's always horrific for everyone it touches.

So if you think this problem can be addressed merely by shutting off funding, then you're just another wishful thinker.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

Did you even read my post? I spoke of well intentioned ideas that didn't work and the need for new ideas, new commitments. And you interpret that with references the Holocaust. Where do you come up with this stuff? I have no problem spending, if it's done wisely. I certainly do have a problem with spending money foolishly. And a wet shelter, one that makes no distinction between those trying, those not trying and those incapable of trying is a waste.
Those incapable of trying, deserve our help. That's what a compassionate society does and it's something I support. Those genuinely trying also deserve our help, though they might not get everything they ask for, the pie only being so big. Those not trying deserve our scorn. They have chosen their path, let them travel it as they see fit. Should there come a time and place when they choose to become a member of the group that tries, we should welcome them. And those helpers in the industry, the social workers, the care givers, need to make the distinctions clear, rather than muddying up the waters, making it impossible for the charity givers to determine who fits into which category.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

"Did you even read my post?"

Yes-- it read this way, "Good money after bad."

Which I think is fair to interpret as wishing that the homeless would just go "away."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

You ignored the part where I said I supported the spending of money if it were done wisely and was opposed to the spending of money if it were done unwisely. And I believe spending on a "wet" bar is unwise. But hey, I can easily see where you would get from that to the holocaust. Do they speak English on your planet?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

So you only wish that the drunks, drug addicts and anyone else somewhat difficult to handle would go "away." Gotcha.

JustNoticed 5 years, 10 months ago

"final solution". Hmm, that has a familiar ring ...

irvan moore 5 years, 10 months ago

pigs at the trough, oew is right, worst city commission ever, there is no money and yet we hand it out on unbudgeted expenditures

somebodynew 5 years, 10 months ago

It may have been unbudgeted this year, but they may as well plan on it (and more) for years to come.

And +1 to cheeseburger.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

What's the difference between funding the shelter with money that is not there and building $20-30 million dollar rec center with money that is not there?

ljwhirled 5 years, 10 months ago

Shelter funding is operational i.e. it is burned on services.

Rec Center funding is for fixed assets, i.e. buildings, land, etc.

Oh, and the people who use the Rec Center pay taxes and are (for the most part) net producers of wealth.

People who use the shelter also pay taxes (sales tax for example), but are generally consumers of wealth.

deec 5 years, 10 months ago

How many staff will need wages and benefits at the new corporate giveaway/rec center? Utilities? Liability insurance? Will the private developers pay these, or will the city foot those bills? Subsidizing private profit is the order of the day, so I'd guess the city will be on the hook for at least part of those expenses. Since it will be publicly owned, there will be no property taxes, another convenient perk for the corporate entity who takes their profits from it. "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in."

patkindle 5 years, 10 months ago


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 10 months ago

Guess the OWS folks need a place to stay since they can't camp in Southpark anymore.

Gotalife 5 years, 10 months ago

Totally agree CHBW! They are out of South Park, but some are moving around sleeping in one park and then another. Working on having something done about it.

asixbury 5 years, 10 months ago

You do realize "Liberal Arts" education just refers to the extent of classes the students have to take, right? It does not mean the colleges are teaching them to be politically liberal; it means the students have to take a more rounded course schedule then they would otherwise.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 10 months ago

Amyx is the only grownup at the table. Perhaps when people get their property tax increases this year, there will be a more definitive outcry of we have had enough of this Sh!#.

50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

Bend over folks, there is more to come, lots more. It is so easy to get free handouts in this town. I bet the shelter is having a celebration party and throwing $20 dollar bills into the crowd, while dancing and cheering. They probably have an open bar too! WooHoo!

guppypunkhead 5 years, 10 months ago

Fitting the money came from liquor tax- a lot of people at the shelter probably paid into that pool of money to begin with.

50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

It's called recycling the money. They get donations on Mass. St., go buy boose, then get the money back from the liquor tax fund to recycle on more boose.

classclown 5 years, 10 months ago

Are we in Joisey? Cause I'm pretty sure that's the only place we can buy boose.

nativeson 5 years, 10 months ago

The central issue relates to an inability to make priority decisions. This commission is spending down fund balance without making choices. If you fund LCS for an incremental $100k annually, then you need to decide where you cut. Taping reserves is not the answer, and stating that this does not make any future commitment is not being forthright. The expectation by LCS is that this is now funding they can count on in the future.

50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

I will add, the future amount will be much higher because it was Sooooo Eaaaasy to get the $100 K. Who will be next to get a "No Questions Asked Funding", oh, yea, the N/W Recreation Center.

BruceWayne 5 years, 10 months ago

I think we got off pretty cheap...I figured Cramwell and Coreless would pay an out of state consultant $65,000.00 to tell them to spend this money. I am most upset with myself for thinking this group would do what is best for our once fine city.

streetman 5 years, 10 months ago

Another entitlement that will never go away, but will grow......

compassionnotgreed 5 years, 10 months ago

Homelessness is predominantly a product of society, not of individuals. 90-98% of people who are homeless are dealing with issues that they did not choose for themselves. Although they may not be responding in the best way, they also have very little resource to respond with. I challenge anyone to give up all their possessions, identifications, money etc. and go to some new place where you do not know anyone and try to make a living without appealing to any person's or institutions charity. The reason people experience homelessness is because society at large is not successful at doing what is needed to ensure that everyone is brought up with the tools and skills socially and materially that will place them in a position of being capable of contributing. I suggest any or all of you actually go to the shelter and spend some time there talking to people, listening to their stories and their backgrounds before you speak about entitlement spending. Also consider that if you look at the city budget from year to year, the city budget has a cycle, but the general trend is increase in funding. The average amount of city funds for the last 3 years is more than they ever had, and the three years before was more than they ever had before. The city has money. So does the community. We have resources, more than we can use or need. Houses sit empty, tones of food and water is thrown away daily. If you spend $40,000 on a car that is resource that could be used for something else other than status symbolism. When we pay millions of dollars to individuals for playing a game and not to send children from poor communities to school you have people who go uneducated. These are the real problems.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

I worked as a case manager working with homeless adults. From my experience, I can say that much of what you say is not true. I worked at a transitional housing program, where individuals were given anywhere from three to six months and all the resources necessary to become employed and find appropriate housing. On staff was a counselor who had been in recovery for more than 20 years and was well versed in issues of addiction. One counselor had extensive experience working with individuals who had severe and chronic mental illnesses. Another counselor was a person of the cloth, and well versed in those needing spiritual help. Another had gone through the previous round of amnesty and knew of immigration issues. Another had experience working with younger people and knew of their particular struggles. We worked closely with the Veterans Administration getting services for homeless vets. It goes on. That so few individuals successfully transitioned into permanent housing was as surprising as it was discouraging. That so many simply made poor decisions for themselves despite repeated counsel to make other choices was a recurring theme. And it represented the overwhelming majority of cases. After a few years, I became convinced that those that benefitted most from this program were the administrators, counselors, support staff, etc. that received a paycheck every two weeks. Then I knew it was time for me to move on.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you. And it's been difficult to put aside by usual liberal response and say, as you, the benefits go to the people with the paycheck and nothing will really change for the homeless. Lawrence, as other college towns, also has the burden of some of the young people who come to KU at 18 whose mental instability becomes severe, incapacitating mental illness. Often these people chose to stay here and these people add to our population of those needing extensive community mental health (since state hospitals have been obliterated by lack of state funding). The person who wrote "if we build it they will come" is not making a joke. Lawrence does not need to become the homeless capital of Kansas.

SgtSkull 5 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is about time a realist spoke on the subject.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like you've decided there is no solution, even if you don't favor a final one.

So where do you think these folks should go (if not "away?")

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

Where do I think they should go? Wherever they choose. I can't live their lives for them. That's for them to choose. And if I can't live their lives for them, neither can you. No one can. And efforts to do so will fail. Be clear please, this thread, along with other recent ones, I've made a clear distinction between those who are incapable of the changes necessary to become productive members of society, those unwilling to make changes and those who are capable and willing. Those who cannot make changes (mentally ill as an example) deserve support and I believe they are entitled to that support. Those willing to make changes deserve our help. But those unwilling, those you characterize as drunks and drug addicts are the people I say let them go their own way as they see fit.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

"Where do I think they should go? Wherever they choose. "

To a certain extent, they do, although their options are very limited. But that doesn't mean they're going to go "away," no matter how badly you want to write them off.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

However, if we continue to enable them, there is less reason for them to change. Will they change if forced? No one knows the answer to that. But from experience I can tell you that with enabling behavior on our part, they are less likely to change.
It is no more humane to enable someone to be a drunk and/or drug addict than it is to cast them off to make their own life (or death) choices.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

They are given all of their needs, except the alcohol and drugs. A free place to stay, drunk or not. Food. Clothing. Access to panhandling areas. Toothbrush & toothpaste. Toilet paper. Everything. If I were to expect that from my spouse, I would no longer have a spouse. Therefore, I do not behave in that manner. Maybe they would behave as such in any event. Maybe not. But giving them all those things certainly enables them to spend their meager financial resources on the chemicals that are killing them. That's not very humane.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

One last thought. The budget is only going to be so big. We might money diverted from something else to support what you might think is a worthy cause. You, Bozo, might want money from the military industrial complex diverted here. Reality is that it won't happen. Reality means this budget will be what it is. Reality is that for each dollar spent on the drunk and addicts is one less dollar that will be spent on the mentally ill. Reality is that for each dollar spent on those who are not trying takes away one dollar from someone who is trying. Reality!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

"Reality is that for each dollar spent on the drunk and addicts is one less dollar that will be spent on the mentally ill."

Reality is that most drunks and addicts are that way because they are self-medicating for their mental illnesses.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

What you are doing is what I cautioned professionals against, muddying up the waters, making it difficult to determine who is who and what is what. I worked in the field, Bozo. I don't know what your area of expertise is. I know what mine is.
The fact is that some mentally ill self medicate. Some don't. Some, amongst the homeless are in fact self medicating mentally ill adults. But not every drunk or addict is a self medicating individual such as you are describing. And not most are either. "Some" is the word that should be used. As I stated earlier and repeatedly, those with mental health problems significant enough to prevent them from helping themselves should be helped and I support efforts to do that. I do not support enabling drunks and addicts. Not making a clear distinction hurts the former group as they get lumped in with the latter. If it's your goal to help the drunks and addicts, then you're doing so at the expense of the mentally ill.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

"You, Bozo, might want money from the military industrial complex diverted here."

Yep, I indeed to believe that flushing money down that toilet has countless negative consequences.

But I find your preference for flushing the homeless down the toilet because you think the massive corruption of the MIC is permanent very unsatisfying.

50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

There is no chance they will leave a 5 Star Homless Shelter for lesser accomadations. We here in Lawrence have become the Homeless Center of choice. They are not going away as long as the luxuary living is given freely without question or requirements.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

They are not going "away" whether there is a homeless shelter available or not, 50year. Unless you want to impose a final solution, that is.

compassionnotgreed 5 years, 10 months ago

I am also a homeless service provider. Yes, people make bad choices, but I house a lot of people, who also never get back into homelessness. I can only imagine that you were not a good service provider, did not use your resources properly or appropriately, and you don't understand social or psychological problems and struggle. There are people who remain homeless for a long time, or even die under those conditions. from my experience their real problems are not getting addressed. The services that are available are not what they need, and so their cycle continues. I wonder if you also think that people who are mentally or physically disabled are also just living off others and the money spent on those services is needless.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

I have repeatedly made a clear distinction between between those who have disabilities that prevent them from fully integrating themselves into society and those who simple choose not to. And I have repeatedly said that those unable should receive services that would assist them so that they might integrate to the best of their ability. What I see in your post and what I object to is that you do not make the distinction that I have called for. Homeless individuals come in all shapes and sizes. And by that I mean there are a myriad of issues that they might be dealing with. Some deserve services, some do not. I think your problem, and I do not mean this as a personal attack, rather it is a common condition of those in the industry, is that you lack objectivity. Your job and that of your co-workers, support staff, janitors, etc. depends on keeping your numbers high. Not only do you have no incentive to differentiate those who deserve services from those that don't, but you have a genuine disincentive to make that distinction. You have a real conflict of interest. You have an incentive to see disease where disease may or may not exist. You have an incentive to see societal responsibility where societal responsibility may or may not exist. You have an incentive to not be objective. Your paycheck and that of your peers depends on it. The difference is that you "are" a provider while I "was" one. That gives us different perspectives.

nativeson 5 years, 10 months ago

compassionnotgreed - Any opposition to this funding request from my viewpoint is not based on a value judgment related to homelessness and whether it is a product of society or the individual. It is solely based on allocating resources. The City has money, but it does not have an unlimited amount. The funds are committed to other services. Using reserves means you are kicking the can down the road until next year when you either continue to deplete reserves or actually make a choice on who does not get funded. I think it is unfair to the taxpayer and to LCS to grant this request without knowing how it will be funded in future budgets.

SgtSkull 5 years, 10 months ago

How can this city keep throwing money around. You tax the crap out of us now people dont want to move here. Those of us here cant sell our homes because of the high taxes. You urinate our money to the homeless shelter just as the homeless urinate in the alleys downtown. The only thing this town is missing is an ocult compound that is finaced by Lawrence. I wont even start on the library in a Major University town that could have been a joint financial venture. Hey Lawrence lets use a little lube shall we. Oh yea Lawrence cant afford the Lube now.

Randall Barnes 5 years, 10 months ago

i knew this would bring out all the liberal tea party republicans and i was right. i am not a big fan of the current city commission but have to give thumbs up on this issue.the reserve came from alcohol sales not tea sales.

nativeson 5 years, 10 months ago

Alcohol sales tax and general fund dollars are used in combination to provide outside agency funding. So, depleting the alcohol sales tax will have impact on the overall general fund picture.

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