Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Homeless count numbers show few changes in Douglas County

June 4, 2013


The number of homeless people in Douglas County remained fairly consistent in 2013 as compared with 2011, according to results from the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, which is conducted every two years.

During the count — conducted Jan. 23 and mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD — volunteers fanned out across the county and identified 223 homeless people, down from 226 in 2011. However, the numbers for the past two counts are about double the 112 homeless people identified in 2009.

The number of homeless children identified in the count increased slightly, from 69 in 2011 to 71 in 2013.

The results were reported at a Tuesday morning meeting of the city's Homeless Issues Advisory Committee.

Danielle Dresslar, the city's community development manager, cautioned that the numbers may not reflect the true picture of homelessness and called the results just a "snapshot" of homelessness in Douglas County.

"I think everyone would agree this is a low number," Dresslar said. "Service providers can probably speak to the fact that they're seeing more (homeless clients)."

Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, said his shelter has seen numbers consistently near the shelter's capacity of 125 people. Whether homelessness is going up or down much "is hard to say."

"Homelessness is a complicated problem," Henderson said.

During the count, volunteers across the county and the country visited homeless shelters and social service agencies and contacted the homeless in the streets, trying to gauge the scope of homelessness.

New this year in Douglas County, volunteers asked a variety of questions designed to help better understand some of the causes of homelessness.

"It gave us some really good information," Dresslar said.

The additional questions identified job loss, lack of affordable housing, and a medical condition as the most frequent causes of homelessness, as reported by those interviewed.

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Point-in-Time Homeless Count

Chart reflects the number of homeless persons identified in Douglas County during the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, conducted every two years.

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Kansas homeless count numbers

Chart reflects the number of homeless persons identified in Kansas during the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, conducted every two years. The 2013 numbers were not available.

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Causes of homelessness

Causes of homelessness, as identified during the 2013 Point-in-Time Homeless Count in Douglas County. Some factors may overlap.


FlintlockRifle 2 years ago

Most of the "town " homeless are great people , just had a bunch of hard luck, some choose to this way also.

oldbaldguy 2 years ago

what about parolees from kdoc, are they counted as homeless?

Tradways 2 years ago

No, they are considered financial success stories by Ks Legislature because they don't have to pay to keep their sorry carcasses in prison no matter what crimes they committed.

otto 2 years ago

Wonder how many are from other communities that migrated here.

mseve 2 years ago

Now that reasons for homelessness have been identified, what is going to be done to help those who want to be helped? For example: those people who are saying there is a lack of affordable housing or job loss. Those 2 go hand in hand. If my memory serves me correctly there are a lot of apartments that are vacant. It would not kill the owners to reduce rent for those people who otherwise can not afford them.

ChuckFInster 2 years ago

Reducing rental rates would drive rental and property values down and put owners/managers in a lose/lose situation. If the feeling is so strong to provide freebies or drastically reduced rates for shelter maybe thought should be given to giving up an extra bedroom in say your home for example.

jafs 2 years ago

If there are a lot of vacancies, then the logical "supply and demand" response would be to lower rents.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Except that we have a very complicated taxing system that allows owners to write off losses at vacant properties against gains at properties that are occupied. It may be true that renting at lower prices will be worse for the owner than simply leaving an apt. empty.

Darn that complicated taxing policy. You know, those accessible to people with clever accountants and clever lawyers.

jafs 2 years ago

Well, there you have it, then.

Tax policy that interferes with normal supply and demand activity - can't be a good thing.

Generally speaking, much of these policies and many of our laws were written by and for those with money and privilege, so it's not that surprising that they favor them. When we were landlords (for a very short time), I found some of the perks surprising, and not really fair. I think it stems from the feudal arrangement of "landowners" and "peasants", with tenants as the new peasants.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Would you think that something like an earned income tax credit was written by and for the wealthy? Or the fact that the upper half pay 90% of the income taxes?

No, I don't think the laws were passed for the benefit of the wealthy. But I do think the wealthy can often hire skilled lawyers and accountants who can interpret minute bits of the laws in ways that it may or may not have been intended. They can drive a semi through a loophole that the little guy doesn't even know exists. That's why I keep saying that the more complicated the system is, the more they benefit.

jafs 2 years ago

I said "generally" "much" and "many", not "all".

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

The upper half pay 90%. Hard to see how that fits into "generally", "much" or "many".

jafs 2 years ago

Do you have a source for that? Last time I looked, the folks in the upper part that paid a lot of taxes also had very close to the same amount of the money.

So, it seemed fine to me.

The real problem is that so few have so much of the income, and that it's extremely unequally distributed - that's what I mean by the results of policy created by and for the well off.

Lower rates on "unearned income", bankruptcy laws that favor companies rather than individuals, not taxing "pass through" income, government guarantees of private pension plans that private companies often default on, etc.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

I googled "who pays what percentage of taxes" and the first hit was the National Taxpayers Union, who claims to be non-partisan. (Of course, I don't know how accurate that claim is). Anyway, their chart when it comes to income taxes is as follows: The top 1% pay 36.73% of income taxes. The top 5% pay 58.66%. The top 10% pay 70.47%. The top 25% pay 87.3%. The top 50% pay 97.75% while the bottom 50% pay 2.25%. (Tax year 2009).

I don't know if those numbers correlate with actual incomes, but off the top of my head, I'd be very surprised if the bottom half of Americans only earned 2.25% of the income. What must account for the disparity then would be tax breaks given to those who earn a greater percentage than they are paying. Seemingly, that would be the bottom 50%.

jafs 2 years ago

Well, we'd have to look at how much income the bottom 50% has to find out.

Last time I looked, the top 80% or so paid about 80% of the taxes, and had about 80% of the income, which seems reasonable from a tax standpoint.

Generally speaking, most people underestimate the amount of wealth and income disparity in this country, believing that it's more evenly distributed than it is in reality.

And, either way, it's a lot better to make a million bucks and keep half of it than it is to make $30K and keep all of it - to my mind the income inequality is the real issue.

According to the cbpp, total taxes paid correlate very closely with share of income, and the tax structure is only mildly progressive.

Also, if this is just about federal income taxes, then we'd have to include other taxes to get a better picture overall - many in the lower half pay FICA taxes, and those are capped at a certain point. So those below that point are paying more FICA as a percentage of income than those above that point.

To be in the top 50%, you only have to make something like $35K - that means that half of the country is making less than that, which is rather staggering.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

You see, we can play with these numbers all day and into the night. There's a million different ways to look at them, a million different ways to interpret them, and a million different ways to rationalize them. Congress does just that in Washington and Topeka. Politicians tell those lies during campaigns. Oops, did I say lies? I meant to say statistics.

The more numbers you throw out there, the less clarity you have. (Counterintuitive as that might seem). That's why I advocate for a single number, a flat tax we all pay for.

Here's the deal, Jafs and you many other fairly liberal posters, I agree with some, but not all of your goals. But I have no desire to beat my head against a wall, again and again, year after year until it becomes decade after decade. It's not that getting from point A to point B is something I'm necessarily opposed to. But if it's impossible to get there by the most direct route, and from my decades of looking at our current system does indeed suggest that it's impossible to get there directly, then we need to seek another route. If you don't like the route I've suggested, that's fine. But please don't tell me that beating your head against that same old brick wall is the way to go.

jafs 2 years ago

I have no idea why you just wrote that post, and can't see anything in it that's relevant to our previous posts.

My only point was that money and power have influenced government - that seems self evident to me, just as it seems self evident that having a national debt larger than our GDP is a bad thing.

Do you really disagree with that? If so, then we can discuss/debate it further, but if not, then why waste our time?

Also, although I'm liberal in some ways, I'm also conservative in others, and libertarian in still others. I regularly challenge my father in law, who is devoutly liberal. So please don't lump me in with other posters who are liberal across the board - it's just not who I am.

Tradways 2 years ago

They're reasons for homeless chart appears fishy. Only 15 people blame alcohol and 13 for drug abuse, that equals 28 people total seems low and it appears they separated the two, to make substance problems not so big. I'm sure this was all self reported by the homeless so it's not exactly based on fact. I see unemployment as the biggest reason at 53 divorce at 27. In my experience drug and alcohol abuse is the cause for losing a job and being divorced.

elliottaw 2 years ago

And what facts do you have to back these claims up that if one is homeless they have a drug/alcohol problem. I don't know anyone that has been divorced because of drug/alcohol problems, but I do know a lot of people that have a job and have substance abuse problems.

Tradways 2 years ago

Being a probation officer and dealing with more homeless, drunks and drug users than you can shake a stick at.

elliottaw 2 years ago

we are not talking about people on parole, we are talking about homeless, are some on parole homeless yes, are all homeless on parole, no

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

A self reported survey such as this, if that's how this survey was conducted, isn't worth the paper it's written on.

elliottaw 2 years ago

its a lot like the census, people answer what they want

littlebit1313 2 years ago

Hate to sound cold about it but is a determination made between the unfortunate who have fallen on hard times or the hardcore homeless types? We need to help the ones who try and ignore professional panhandlers like the ones downtown. Yes I know some will say we should not make a difference but I believe you help those who help themselves and the unfortunates who can not help themselves. Discourage the others.

mseve 2 years ago

Chuck if i were in a position to create affordable housing and not the my mom and dad pay my rent i would- I like many others pay for my home and try to stay within my means and not fuel the overpriced rental market we have. When I was a renter, i remember trying to find something that was not too expensive for me as a single parent. Back to the article, what are going to do with this information now? We all know I hope, empty units generate no money (nice tax write offs) but they could still be made more reasonable. Like $800 vs $1200 a month

jafs 2 years ago

I believe the idea is that you can write off business losses against gains, and so pay lower taxes on your gains than you would have otherwise.

But jhf may have more info than I do.

When we were landlords (for a very short time), I was surprised at some of the perks we had, some of which didn't seem quite fair to me.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Surprised at some of the perks, huh? Suppose I owned a restaurant and decided to check out the competition. I went to a competing restaurant and looked at how they designed their menu. I looked to how they decorated and what their staffing levels were. The costs of my research are perfectly allowable tax deductions, right down to the gas I spent to go there. Now suppose I really enjoyed my experience, and went there one time per year, say, on my anniversary. You know, (wink, wink) to check out any changes they've made in the past year. Perfectly allowable.

jafs 2 years ago

Yep - same kind of thing.

A lot of business deductions are like that, and equally wrong, in my opinion. We went to lunch with our real estate agents, talked about real estate for about a minute, and enjoyed our lunch. They paid for it, and deducted the costs as business expenses.

Obviously, we could have met in their office, and didn't "need" to eat out, so those don't seem like legitimate business expenses to me.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

If I own two restaurants, one making a lot of money and the other losing money, I can indeed deduct the losses of one from the profits of the other.

jafs 2 years ago

You can deduct "losses" from "profits" I believe.

So, if he has a restaurant with no customers, but all of his expenses, he can show a serious loss at that restaurant, and deduct that from the profit at his successful restaurant, thus lowering his taxes.

As a landlord, the same would apply - if you are losing money on a rental property, you can deduct that from profits on another one, I would think.

Clark Coan 2 years ago

Since it has been definitely confirmed that so many homeless are flocking in from KC and Topeka, a residency requirement for those who want services is appropriate. Lawrence taxpayers and donors shouldn't have to support nonresidents. Ater all, KU students have to prove residency to get in-state tuition. I say they must have resided in Lawrence for three years or more to access services such as a bed at the shelter.

Thinking_Out_Loud 2 years ago

QT, you don't really think that being a college student and being homeless are equivalent stations in you?

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