Archive for Monday, November 5, 2012

Homeless shelter expecting move to new facility to happen near New Year’s


William Renfro, a volunteer at the Lawrence Community Shelter, takes a break from cleaning up on Friday in preparation for the shelter’s move from its downtown site. The homeless shelter will move into larger quarters in southeast Lawrence near the Douglas County Jail shortly after Christmas.

William Renfro, a volunteer at the Lawrence Community Shelter, takes a break from cleaning up on Friday in preparation for the shelter’s move from its downtown site. The homeless shelter will move into larger quarters in southeast Lawrence near the Douglas County Jail shortly after Christmas.

November 5, 2012

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A new $3 million shelter for the area’s homeless likely will open its doors by the end of the year.

The shelter has tentatively scheduled a communitywide open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the new shelter, which is located in a former industrial building just east of the Douglas County Jail on the city’s southeast side.

“It is really moving along well,” said Loring Henderson, director of Lawrence Community Shelter. “The walls are going up; the wires are going in. You can absolutely see the shape of the dining room, the day room, the kitchen.

“It’s exciting. It looks like a shelter now.”

Lawrence-based B.A. Construction is estimating it will complete the renovation project by Dec. 21. Henderson said the shelter could begin moving shortly after the Christmas holiday.

“We intend to be out there right around the first of the year,” Henderson said.

The new 15,000-square-foot shelter will have room for 125 beds, up from 75 that can be housed at the current shelter. Henderson said the space is needed now.

When the weather turned cold recently, Henderson said the shelter was full with 75 overnight guests, a neighboring church housed 15 more, and 18 people were given blankets to sleep outside and were told to check in at the shelter periodically to ensure they were surviving the elements.

In addition to the extra sleeping space, which will include an area devoted to homeless families, the shelter also will have a dining room that serves three meals a day and office space for agencies that provide everything from mental health services to job training.

“Right now we use mats instead of beds,” Henderson said of the current shelter. “We have a lot of people who sit on the floor to eat. The new place will have beds; it will have dining tables. It will be humane, decent, terrific. It won’t be fancy, but it will be fancy compared to what we’re used to.”

The new shelter won’t, however, include a drop-in center. The current shelter has a policy that allows people who are not enrolled in the shelter’s programs to use the shelter as a place of refuge during the day. Henderson said that won’t be allowed at the new location.

Henderson said the shelter only will be open to people who have enrolled in the shelter’s formal programming, which includes meetings with case managers and other who can help with job searches, housing assistance, medical issues and disability benefits.

“People will notice more structure out there,” Henderson said. “We’ll have less people dropping in for sure. The people who are there will be able to focus a little bit better on their own issues.”

City leaders will be watching how the new system works out. City commissioners have been supportive of the new shelter policy, but also have said the new rules may mean some of downtown’s more chronic homeless population may not choose to move to the new location.

“I know we’re going to see some very positive impacts for the people who choose to stay at the new shelter,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter. “But the community needs to be realistic. This new shelter is not going to relieve every challenge we have with the homeless downtown.”

Carter, though, said the city will need to wait and see what issues may develop once the shelter and the drop-in center leave the downtown area.

“Whether they are issues the city steps up and deals with or whether they are privately dealt with, I’m not sure,” Carter said.

Comments

50YearResident 2 years, 4 months ago

Now the disclaimer:

City leaders will be watching how the new system works out. City commissioners have been supportive of the new shelter policy, but also have said the new rules may mean some of downtown’s more chronic homeless population may not choose to move to the new location.

“I know we’re going to see some very positive impacts for the people who choose to stay at the new shelter,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter. “But the community needs to be realistic. This new shelter is not going to relieve every challenge we have with the homeless downtown.”

Carter, though, said the city will need to wait and see what issues may develop once the shelter and the drop-in center leave the downtown area.

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

what needs to be made is a tent city, fenced ,lighted, water, trash........with out reach programs for the ones who wont move out there.

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

there are major cities accross the country that do the same thing, provides a safeish alternetive to being banshished outside of town. concentration camp would have gaurds, but i guess you wouldnt mind them setting up tents in your yard though right??using your water?? oh thats right, youre prob one of the ones who would rather them be outta sight outta mind wouldnt ya?

irvan moore 2 years, 4 months ago

interesting that carter seems most concerned about the downtown problem with the homeless instead of the problems of the homeless

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

having the shelter out there is the worst idea ive heard. Outta sight, outta mind is not the way to address the problem. But for someone whos working, homeless and doesnt drive, i guess walking 5 miles cuz i get off work after the busses stop, is just a fantastic alternitive. what its going to do is drive more homeless downtown, and into the woods but good luck with your new waste of space

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

but you do remind me why i am pro choice, and as you havent contributed anything except negativity, quit projecting your defects on to others and get some help

Chelsea Kapfer 2 years, 4 months ago

From what I ave heard, there will be a bus route added to service the shelter? if not, tdevany, maybe you could spearhead the campaign to initiate that, instead of looking for problems, why don't you search for solutions?

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

ohhhh and hopefully its a dry shelter, having staff supplying, and using prob doesnt help either

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 4 months ago

tdevany The bus is considering having a late night bus service for those who work after the regular buses stop. If you have a regular time you want to be picked up you can them put you on the schedule as such. They are now taking input to see how much it is needed.

This is where you can fill out their survey and let them know that you need this bus and why.

http://www.lawrencetransit.org/pages/survey

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

that would be awsome, but with the cuts they already are doing, highly unlikely without state or fed. help with funding, granted i know the need for having a new space better programs and am grateful that there is going to be a new shelter, just the choice of location is a huge prob for me, but prob makes the cops happy and downtown buisness owners.

Dan Rose 2 years, 4 months ago

This story brought to you by Pepsi, proud sponsor of... ___ (homeless shelters everywhere?)

FYI

geekin_topekan 2 years, 4 months ago

tdevany, just how long in the bloody heck do you plan on being there? You make it sound like this is intended to be permanent housing or something.

The true bums, the panhandlers who drink, smoke, fornicate in the bushes, will remain downtown. Only the population that you do not see, the ones who work and will be in an apartment soon will be served.

I am concerned for those shelter "guests" who have been there for a decade or better. Let me say that again, there are some who have been in/at the shelter for ten years or more. Will the be required to get a job and move on, or will they remain permanent earmarks on the nightly signup sheet?

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

i agree whole heartedly, but for the ones who do work and are trying to better themselves, the lack of planning, for rides etc, is whats troubling. The fact that the shelter has been a wet shelter for years also contibutes to the lack of motivation for those whove been there for years.i just firmly believe that there were better pieces of land that are easily accessable by walking, bikes, already exsisting bus routes that would have better served the homeless IN TOWN. But by starting to offer real programs to help is a step in the right direction. And to figure out a proactive way to help the ones who do suffer from mental health, addiction, etc that wont go out there, is perferable to going in with bulldozers and destroying the ramshakle shakes they build to try and survive the winter, or the wasted money in the process of two hundered dollar fines for illegal camping etc.its a work in progress, but as a progressive town, we should follow the lead of other cities who have taken a proactive approach.

blindrabbit 2 years, 4 months ago

What is going to happen to the building the Homeless Shelter currently occupies?? Is the property owned by the City??

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

and just for the record i have been homeless in this city, and traveled through out this country, the lawrence drop in shelter by far, was one of the worst shelters i have ever been in , in my life. id rather camp on county land (no local cop harrassment), then ever stay there. Im glad there is a new facillity and just hope the logistics can be worked out to help as many as possible.

tdevany 2 years, 4 months ago

i have a job, got off the streets and have everything i need, no thanks too any "services"(laughing at the term services, almost non exsistant) @50 yr

Chelsea Kapfer 2 years, 4 months ago

well, so sorry the lawrence "services" weren't up to your standards. It is attitudes like yours that cause the stereotypes of homeless entitlement attitudes.

blindrabbit 2 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence may finally wake up to the fact that the Lawrence Homeless Plan has been a long term disaster. Many years ago, the Lawrence City Commission had a chance toi visit the shelter in Topeka; Topeka has a much more regulated operation where people with capability are expected to work to a positive end. Lawrence with it's sizable do-gooder segment has discouraged this approach, instead allowing the "guests" to continue on a "no progress" path.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 4 months ago

If the shelter required its tenants to work or be productive to earn their keep, we would not need a 125 bed facility. (And the taxpayer funding that goes along with it)

hwatever 2 years, 4 months ago

The new shelter is bad for the homeless and more importantly to you all horrible for the city. The only people it will benefit are the infirmed old ladies who will be allowed to stay indefinity so long as they continue to donate their social security and food stamp benefits to the shelter. Consider the shelter residents the best of the worst. They are the temporary homeless like me who just needed a lil help or the chronically lazy perm residents. These ppl will be out of site out of mind.

The ones you really have problems with downtown don't stay at the shelter. Without the shhelteer there to provide material support and hygiene items you will see more and more begging and scavenging downtown. If link stops serving lunch it will get even worse. You are not getting the out of site solution u were hoping for. The homeless prison outside of town will keep ppl like me from getting unhomeless and the miscreants you see downtown were never leaving downtown anyways.

Lastly something to think about. I'm a survivalist smart functional and resourceful. If god forbid I end up homeless again, I wood not mess with the shelter id be sleeping in my camp begging u for money and dumpster diving all day. The problem isn't going away and it just got worse and more visible for the city and the homeless.

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