Archive for Monday, May 21, 2012

Shelter leader makes case for funding

Services provided would otherwise fall to city, county

May 21, 2012


The leader of Lawrence’s lone homeless shelter said he’ll lobby hard for a significant increase in funding for its 2013 budget, despite a negative recommendation from a key city advisory board.

“We are in need of the funding because we have all these people, and I just think it is time for the city to help us on a more regular basis,” said Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, who said the organization was grateful for previous city funding. “But this is not the shelter’s problem alone.”

As part of its 2013 budget request, the shelter asked for a $64,000 increase in city funding to bring its total to $149,000. But the city’s Social Service Funding Advisory Board recently met and recommended just a $6,000 increase for the shelter. The board’s recommendation will be forwarded to city commissioners in early June, and commissioners will make the final decision on the funding amount when they vote on a 2013 budget later this summer.

Henderson said the shelter is faced with a significant funding shortfall because of larger numbers of people the shelter is serving on a daily basis. Traditionally, the shelter has housed about 70 to 75 people per night. But now the demand is consistently more than 90 people a night, with many families with children seeking services. The shelter now operates an overflow shelter at a local church each night, which has increased the shelter’s staffing expenses.

The shelter is scheduled to move into a new, larger facility near the Douglas County Jail in eastern Lawrence this fall. Henderson said the 125-bed facility will make housing the homeless more efficient but won’t eliminate the need for increased funding.

“This is just a volume problem,” Henderson said. “The supplies, the food, the supervision all come with a cost. There is just this need out there that doesn’t go away.”

Casey Toomay, city budget director, said the advisory board struggled with its recommendations because the requests for funding from social service agencies significantly outnumbered the available dollars in the city’s budget.

“They found it challenging, but they came up with recommendations that they really thought reflected the priorities of the commission,” Toomay said.

Part of the challenge is that the advisory board was told to assume there would be no increase in the total amount of city funding available to distribute to the social service agencies throughout the city. Board members were told they had about $530,000 in property and sales tax funds to distribute and about $315,000 in special liquor tax revenues to award.

Both amounts are basically the same as from a year ago.

Henderson said he understood the advisory board would be reluctant to grant a major increase in funding to the shelter if it meant reductions had to be made to other organizations. Henderson, though, said he is no longer certain the shelter should be competing against other social service agencies for funding.

The city has a portion of its budget where it pays organizations a “vendor payment” to provide a service that the city would have to otherwise provide on its own. Organizations such as the Lawrence Arts Center, Douglas County Legal Aid, and the Lawrence Humane Society fall into that category. The shelter, however, does not.

“I’m beginning to think that is how we ought to be viewed,” Henderson said. “We definitely provide a service to both the city and the county that I think they would have to provide otherwise.”

City commissioners in March approved a special $100,000 appropriation to the shelter to help it boost its finances. At the time, Henderson told commissioners that he would be making a similar request during the 2013 budget process. Henderson in March also asked for $100,000 from Douglas County, but county commissioners have yet to consider that request, Henderson said. He said he hopes county commissioners still will consider the 2012 funding request, and he said he has made a similar request to be included in the county’s 2013 budget.

In total, about two dozen social service organizations requested funding in 2013 from the city. City staff members were still compiling a report showing funding recommendations for all the groups, but Toomay said funding was particularly tight in the city’s Special Alcohol fund, which seeks to provide funding for organizations that provide alcohol abuse treatment or prevention programs. A full list of funding recommendations is expected to be released in the next several days.


applefarmer 6 years ago

If you build it they will come , with thier hands out wanting more and more every year. Yes the economy is bad but is the answer just to give them more money or should they work within the budget they have. Is there work that the residents of the shelter can do to earn or pay the city back for the money they want.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years ago

We knew this would happen. It is the same way most things are done. They start with something small with the full intent to come back for more. The library will be this way with its operating budgets. The empT did this with its bus maintenance facility.

The answer to Hendersons folly should be a resounding NO.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

The bus in not empty there are plenty of riders and I am talking about the T as well as the KU bus. There is quite a diversity of ridership. Do you have any idea of how much it cost to rent in Lawrence? And, I mean the cheapest place you can find. There is an application fee for every place you look at and they demand that your income is three times the monthly rent, and then there is the deposit. Oh, yes and how about the deposits for utilities. I don't get cable because I am not willing to pay Knology seventy-five deposit. If you ever get behind or laid off or lose a job then it is incredibly difficult to get things back together. You can work two jobs and still be homeless. If you have a job that provides you and your family with a home than thank God every day of your life and don't start thinking you have what you have because you are so great.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Here it comes-- the long line of self-righteous folks wishing that "those people" would just go away (wherever that is.)

At least the Nazis were honest enough to create a final solution for the people they thought weren't worthy of a place on the planet.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Are you saying that anyone opposed to this shelter should be compared to a Nazi? Why are you constantly minimizing the actions of the Nazis, the final solution, etc. by comparing their actions to events and people who have done nothing even remotely close to what those people did? What is your real agenda here, Bozo?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Are you saying that anyone opposed to this shelter should be compared to a Nazi?"

I'm comparing it to an attitude that "those people" are wholly undeserving of even the minimal amenities to be found in a homeless shelter, and should just "go away," which is precisely what enabled the Nazis to implement their final solution.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

You're comparing the killing of a mosquito that lands on your arm with the killing of a human being. You're stretching the meaning of the word "killing" beyond any normal comprehension.
Comparing a lessening of funding for the homeless and more specifically drunks who are homeless with the genocide of the Nazis, the systematic killing of millions of people is to stretch the analogy beyond any reason. And you do it with the Nazis and their final solution again and again. You appear to be making every attempt at diminishing the impact of Nazi actions by repeatedly comparing those actions to actions of far less magnitude.
Maybe you don't understand the final solution. Maybe you don't care. But it is one, the other or both.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

I understand that you're very protective of the holocaust, and will knee jerk against attempts to draw parallels between the attitudes that allowed it to happen then with attitudes that exist in this society today, and are expressed most frequently on the issue of homelessness, and any efforts to deal with it.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Perhaps you should re-think your frequent invocation of Nazism and final solutions for every perceived act of injustice, real or imagined. Be clear, you've used that "final solution" analogy many times. I've called you on it at times and many times have let it pass. Yet you continue to use it. Clearly you don't care how others feel about this matter. It's not my knee jerk reaction that is in question, it's your complete lack of sensitivity that calls your very humanity into question.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

No, it's your unwillingness to admit that the mindset that allowed the Nazis do what they did is alive and well, and exists not only here, but many places in world. Including Israel (and yes, Palestine, as well.)

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Even if you were correct, and could make some huge leap of logic to compare the mindsets, I'm certain that mindset has happened countless times throughout the ages. Yet you keep coming back to that one. Not the killing fields of Cambodia, not the hutu/tutsi genocide. Not the countless many. No, you keep coming back to perhaps the greatest genocide in terms of numbers all the while comparing it to injustices that pale in comparison. It's nothing but a blatant attempt to diminish one to elevate the other. The mass killings of tens of millions cannot ever be compared to a call for alcoholics to be responsible for their own behavior. It's a leap of logic too grand to contemplate, other than if used by someone who specifically is trying to diminish one.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"I'm certain that mindset has happened countless times throughout the ages. "


" Yet you keep coming back to that one."

It's the one most easily referenced. If prefer to refer to those other situations, go for it.

"The mass killings of tens of millions cannot ever be compared to a call for alcoholics to be responsible for their own behavior."

Hard-core alcoholics and other substance abusers are generally incapable of being responsible enough in their behavior to get out the the vicious cycle they live in, especially in a dog-eat-dog society that loves to despise folks who are in a tough situation. And most of the comments here are exactly that-- a celebration of Schadenfreude, and the demand that they just go "away," even though there is no away possible that doesn't involve some sort of "final solution."

nativeson 6 years ago

The shelter has been controversial since its inception. It continues to serve a critical need in the community, but over the years it has lacked the level of accountability that many believe is necessary when an organization takes public funding. From their "good neighbor" agreement to huge number of police calls to their current location, the pattern of making commitments that are not fulfilled is very consistent.

The move to a new facility was a sign of the expectation from the shelter that they would desire a higher funding amount from public sources. This was never explicitly discussed, but I believe it was the expectation all along. This has been the model that LCS has operated for years. They make commitments that have no future funding source, and then they put the City and County in the awkward position of being the bad guy.

Mr. Henderson's statement relative to the desire not to compete with other social service agencies for funding is a telling sign of his goal in the long term for LCS. He believes that his mission is more important than other agencies in the community, and that he should have a special carve out of funding that is not subject to review each year. This has been his attitude since the beginning, and it is not surprising that he is now more forthright in his belief that they are above the fray.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

First, let me say that those who donate to charity have a right to have that donation spent in ways they've been told it would spend. And they have a right to give to one charity and not another, even though it could be argued that both charities are equally deserving. I suspect many here do just that, give to charity "A" and not "B", not that "B" is a bad charity, it's just that we have enough discretionary funds to give to one and we've chosen "A". What this shelter has done is group several types of people under an umbrella of "homeless". The problem as I see it is that the general public is willing and compassionate enough to provide funds for some under that umbrella while the public has no desire at all to provide funds for others under that umbrella. The leaders of the shelter know this, they can read the threads, they hear the comments made at public forums. Yet they continue to keep putting everyone together under the umbrella. They are also in the best position to determine who fits one category of homeless while someone else would fit another, one that the public doesn't want their charity going to. But they don't make that distinction, which either jeopardizes funding for all or forces a lower quality of services for everyone.
The leaders of this shelter could provide much better services for those who the public really does want to help if they denied services to those the public does not want their dollars going to.

skinny 6 years ago

These people have already brought enough crime to this fine City! Enough is enough. If you cator to them they will come! 95% of these people aren't even from Lawrence let alone Kansas. I VOTE "NO" more money be given to these people.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

How do you know how many at the shelter are from Lawrence and how many are not? It seems more reasonable to me to assume they are from around here.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Let Henderson seek Federal or State funding. Why, because the people he serves come from all over the USA to get the luxuary living whithout recourse that this shelter provides. If the Feds or State denie the funding, then the Shelter will have to resort back to what they do have funds for, which is a smaller opperation. Lawrence, KS or Douglas County can not be expected to fund a shelter serving people from across the US.

melwetzel 6 years ago

I am constantly amazed at the cold hearted residents of Lawrence, who would begrudge a person a space to sleep on the floor. Luxury living? Have you spent a lot of time at the shelter?

irvan moore 6 years ago

city commissioners pay attention, you don't have to waste taxpayer money creating a position to bring retired people to lawrence, mr. henderson fills that need now and has added to that population every month.

kernal 6 years ago

Perhaps the Board of Directors for the Shelter should take a day trip to the Topeka Rescue Mission, then another to KC to see how others do it, then begin a search for a new manager of the Lawrence Homeless Shelter.

Amy Heeter 6 years ago

Loring started at the kc shelter. I do however think though loring should donate some of his salary if he wants money so bad.

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years ago

My conscience won't allow me to support a shelter that enables alcoholism. As long as its main goal is to serve as a place for drunks to sleep off their buzz I don't want my tax dollars going toward it. Henderson should make it a family shelter only. Help the people who are actually trying to get back on their feet.

somedude20 6 years ago

Tough call. At what point does helping switch to enabling? I drive pass the shelter every day (on my way to work) and see a large group of able bodied people who could work if they wanted. A saying in the Corps was "if you don't mind, it don't matter," well, if you don't mind that lifestyle, then why change it? Some people really do need help, but it seems like a number of them are taking advantage (at the end of the day, the bums are taking away from the people who need a hand up). Sad to say but I do not see a good way to pitch out the bums so that the ones who really need it (keep in mind that the children did not choose this lifestyle) don't have to compete with the "bums" for limited resources

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

The biggest problem is that those in the best position to determine who is a bum and who is deserving of services are the very people with the least incentive to make that determination. And unlike other shelters where at least some attempt is made, this particular shelter wears it's lack of determination like a badge of honor. They are certainly entitled to their opinion. What they are not entitled to is my charity.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Your problem Bozo is that you presuppose that you, I or the shelter knows what's best for these people. First off, each is an individual. I have no idea where they should go. You don't and neither does the shelter. Each person should go to the place of their choosing, live the life of their choosing. It's been said by addition specialists many times that those addicted need to hit their bottom before they can recover. What that shelter is doing is preventing people from hitting their bottom. Rather than letting people succeed or fail according to their individual devises, the shelter is keeping them in some sort of purgatory, neither living or dying. Set them free. Let them sleep on a very cold hard surface. Maybe that will cause them to hit their bottom. Maybe they will die. I don't know. Neither do you. We make these decisions every day when parents cut the cord and tell their 18 year olds to go, live. Some will succeed, some not. But we'd call them cruel if they kept their 50 year old in the basement, well fed with the latest video game to keep them company.

melwetzel 6 years ago

I have read reports from the LCS about how they help each individual to escape homelessness. It is on their website.

Many of the people that end up in the shelter are mentally impaired, and have no knowledge of the social services available to them. LCS consistently helps these people to find the low-income housing and social services they need. So, I disagree . . .the homeless shelter can provide a lot of valuable information, and THEY DO HAVE AN IDEA where these people should go. They are trying to get them there.

Each person should live the life of their choosing? Be sure and run for office on that platform.

Deb Engstrom 6 years ago

I would certainly keep my 50 year old in the basement if the alternative were the streets. Many people don't have that option, though. Thus we have homeless shelters. I can't imagine that anyone would tell their 18 year old to "go, live" without the necessary skills, but because there are some who do that, the homeless shelters are necessary.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"I would certainly keep my 50 year old in the basement if the alternative were the streets."

I believe that you would. But sometimes, especially when mental illness and/or substance abuse is a factor, it's just not an option for family members to take them in.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

It doesn't help for this shelter to place under it's umbrella those that deserve services and those that do not. I've never called for a reduction of services to those who have mental illnesses. They are deserving individuals. However, the reality of 2012 America is that we only have a certain amount of money that can be spent on certain things. Every dollar going to an alcoholic who makes not attempt at a lifestyle change is one dollar less that can be spent on the mentally ill person. For every drunk bum who consumes services, there is going to be that amount less going to a family.
These are indeed difficult choices. But if professionals who are in the best position to make these determinations choose not to, then someone else has to make those choices, as in reduced funding, or deserving individuals suffer via inadequate services.
The very real situation, today, now, in this shelter, is that for every dollar spent on lazy bums, that's one less dollar spent on a mentally ill person. Be clear, I'm not calling for a reduction in money, but a redistribution of how that money is spent, from bums to those more deserving. Those that oppose this are calling for money and services to be reallocated from those deserving to those not deserving.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Your problem Bozo is that you presuppose that you, I or the shelter knows what's best for these people. "

You may do that, but I don't. I merely know that the only thing worse than having a homeless shelter is to have no homeless shelter.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years ago

How about to your house Bozo...then you can play your Nazi games on them that you so dream about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

I'd rather they go to a homeless shelter-- or your house, makes no difference to me.

melwetzel 6 years ago

A large number of the homeless are combat veterans. I would think your time in "the Corps" would make you more aware that people can have disabilities while still looking able bodied.

somedude20 6 years ago

Well, I have been working with Vets in need for the last 6+ years and you would be rather surprised by what you see. Many times is seems as though for every 1 Vet that is indeed disabled, there are 2 who are working the system

Benthic 6 years ago

I heard Loring Henderson's salary for being Director of the shelter is around $100,000 per year.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

You obviously don't know the difference between "partying" and self-medication with alcohol and other substances. In the former, they are having fun, and the latter, they are merely seeking an escape from their consistently miserable lives. I hope you never find yourself in that situation, as so many at these shelters have.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

That is just not true. I worked with homeless adults for a couple of years. After a while, it became clear that some did indeed choose that lifestyle.
The "no one chooses that lifestyle" is the mantra of the enablers. Putting it in the form of a question and asking it rhetorically, "who would choose that lifestyle"? Work in that field for some time and you will be able to name names. You will be able to make a list. It might make you feel better about humanity to assume no one would do such a thing, no one would lead a self destructive lifestyle, no one would consume services intended for more deserving individuals, but they are out there. And this shelter welcomes them.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

May you never feel so down low and blue that you find yourself just staring into the distance unable to move paralyzed by despair. Someone is going to have to talk to the people at the shelter, find out what is a reasonable goal for them to have, and then talk about every step they are going to have to take to reach that goal.

friendofhaskell 6 years ago

Love reading these hate-filled comments from such a progressive elite community...what an illusion. I bet most of you go to church every Sunday yet preach intolerance and hate for those without in the blogs of the LJW. How many of you have ever hired a disabled person who is homeless or provided services to a vet traumatized by PTSD? How many of you have every helped a family tossed out of their home because a hospital bill and a layoff put them completely underwater? How many of you have an alcoholic in the family that you love enough to try and save but can't? People, and yes they are people, are homeless for alot of reasons. I think they should leave the shelter right where it is, right smack dab in the middle of downtown Lawrence so that you all have to see the suffering in this world each and every day you drive by the shelter. And when you stand before your maker and explain what you did to help humanity, you'll not forget to mention your despise of the poor and pityful.

Pamela Shanks 6 years ago

Here's an investigation for the LJW. It is common for other police agencies in surrounding towns and counties, including Johnson, to drive transients to Lawrence rather than deal with them in their own communities. The state hospital provides bus tickets to Lawrence. Dealing with our own makes sense, but I don't think our community should have to pay for the entire NE Kansas region. This problem needs some exposure before the public and the commission can make funding decisions. If you build it, they will come or in this case, they will get dropped off downtown.

Amy Heeter 6 years ago

Solution: shut it down and give the funding to family promise. Families will get back on thier feet and the drinks will go back where they came from.

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