Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lawrence homeless shelter to host open house at soon-to-be-home on Sunday

Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, provides a tour Thursday of the new homeless shelter facility, which is located at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. The shelter, which is still undergoing some finishing construction touches and will not be move-in ready until the end of the year, will be open to the public during an open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, provides a tour Thursday of the new homeless shelter facility, which is located at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. The shelter, which is still undergoing some finishing construction touches and will not be move-in ready until the end of the year, will be open to the public during an open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

November 29, 2012


There will be lots to see at Sunday’s open house for the Lawrence Community Shelter’s soon-to-be-completed new home — everything from a large dining room and kitchen to actual dormitories.

But John Tacha, chair of the shelter’s board of directors, suspects that he’ll like seeing the smiles inside the building the most.

“Seeing the faces of the staff who have been working in small cramped spaces for so long is what really gets me excited,” Tacha said.

Shelter leaders will host an open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the shelter’s future home, a converted warehouse building at 3701 Franklin Park Circle.

“We’re going to try to answer all the questions people have about what the new shelter is going to look like,” Loring Henderson, executive director of the homeless shelter, said.

The space isn’t yet ready to move into. Crews with Lawrence-based B.A. Green Construction are expected to complete work by Dec. 21. Henderson hopes the shelter will move from its current location at 10th and Kentucky streets into the new building by the end of the year.

While visitors on Sunday won’t see the finished product, they will see how much different the space is from the cramped facility downtown.

The current shelter is about 7,700 square feet, spread out on a couple of levels. The new shelter will have 15,000 square feet of space for sleeping, dining and shelter programs. In addition, the shelter has another 10,000 square feet of vacant warehouse space that it plans to use for job training programs and partnerships with private businesses who want to hire shelter guests for various jobs.

The main 15,000-square-foot shelter has been designed to be separated into several areas. They include:

• Nine private rooms for homeless families and their children.

• A large day room that will have room for about 90 lockers to give the guests a safe place to store their basic possessions.

• Separate men’s and women’s dormitories, equipped with bunk beds and storage rather than the mats the shelter currently rolls out onto the floors each night.

• A full kitchen and dining room that will serve three meals per day to shelter guests.

• A medical exam room for nurses from Baker University and other programs to come and provide health care to shelter guests.

• 10 offices for shelter staff and case workers to meet privately with guests. The offices will include two spaces for outside agencies to use at the shelter, to alleviate the need for shelters guests to travel all over town to meet with social workers.

Henderson said other transportation concerns that some had with the site, which is on the far east edge of town next to the Douglas County Jail, also have been addressed. The city already has established a new bus route that goes by the shelter site.

When the shelter does open, more space won’t be the only thing that changes. The shelter will stop serving as a community drop-in center. At its downtown location, the shelter has served as a place where anybody could drop in and get off the streets for the day.

At the new location, only people who have agreed to enroll in a shelter program and actively work to get out of homelessness will be allowed in the facility.

“We will be more structured,” Henderson said. “I think that is what people will notice about the new shelter. Right now we are so crowded and have so many people coming and going that it is hard to get the continuity between the case managers and the guests that you really need.”

The open house will give shelter leaders a chance to personally thank contributors to a capital campaign that raised about $3.3 million for the project. The project received a $540,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla., but the bulk of the money came from local donors.

“Hopefully all the people who donated will come out and see the facility,” Tacha said. “We had all types of people donate. We had people walk up to the window and give $10 when they really probably didn’t have it to give.

“The whole project says a lot about Lawrence. We had a thousand people contribute to it. That’s gratifying because it shows a really broad cross section of the community supports what we’re doing.”


SloMo 5 years ago

Sounds pretty nice.

I'm curious about how hard or easy it will be for homeless people to get to?

Deb Engstrom 5 years ago

The bus goes right by the shelter, however it will not be a drop-in center, so if a person is not staying at the shelter and in a shelter program they won't have any need to go there. There will be a need for a downtown drop-in center, however.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Does that mean that the current shelter, the one on 10th. and Kentucky will be that drop-in center? Or is there some other location being considered?

paavopetie 5 years ago

My guess is a local downtown church will step up once this need is realized.

Clovis Sangrail 5 years ago

"There will be a need for a downtown drop-in center, however."

Why? The new shelter will be providing assistance to those who want to work to get out of homelessness. Why is there an obligation to those who do not want to make that effort?

japerman 5 years ago

I really dont think the city of lawrence wants a drop in center downtown.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

I am so happy about this. I am convinced that if people are treated with respect and dignity they will respond in kind; this shelter can provide those who have the will to better their lives the knowledge and means to do so.

At the risk of offending someone, I say, "Thank you, Jesus!"

paavopetie 5 years ago

I love how the new homeless shelter is right next to the Douglas County jail on the way out of town. They are pushing the homeless in the wrong direction, though. Johnson County won't have them; Topeka will, though.

Bassetlover 5 years ago

So incredibly happy for you, Loring, and all the unfortunate you choose to serve. Hats off to the board as well for persevering through all the detractors in order to reach this dream. I hope our new shelter serves as a model for how to serve our homeless in the most dignified manner possible as they struggle to regain their independence. Blessings to all of you!

youngjayhawk 5 years ago

Wonderful facility with a great mission! The Lawrence community has needed this for so many years. Perhaps the downtown homeless population who are not wanting to improve their lives will now move on due to fewer services available in the area. I believe the Lawrence community is going to be proud of this new facility and what will be accomplished for its patrons. Best wishes for success!

oldbaldguy 5 years ago

best of luck i hope it works. giving someone a hand up should be universal.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

You have to sign up for programs to get a job and get housing before you can stay there. There will be rules. Said so right in the article.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

There's a big difference between signing up for a program to get a job and actually getting a job. Likewise, there's a difference between a program designed to get into housing and actually doing those things necessary to get into and then maintaining housing.

People can sign up for all the programs in the world. Actually changing behaviors, actually getting results, that's the key.

bearded_gnome 5 years ago

the facility there has what is necessary, and I am glad for that. the problem has always been that the shelter has been enabling, and has not been a truly dry shelter.

my sincere hope is that this will have the greater structture, that it will be adhered to well. and that it truly makes this a dry shelter.

I am troubled by the passing reference that tere will still be a need for a dropin center downtown. this has been an attractant for a sizeable crowd of troublesome individuals for the whole downtown up to now.

japerman 5 years ago

I dont think lawrence or business owners wants a shelter or a drop in center in downtown

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