Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City commission to consider $725,000 loan to homeless shelter

October 7, 2013


Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting again will consider making a $725,000 low-interest loan to the Lawrence Community Shelter.

Commissioners last month expressed general support for providing the loan to the homeless shelter, which will use the money to put a new roof on its building in eastern Lawrence and to replace a construction loan with a local bank that is coming due at the end of the year.

Last month commissioners were split on how the loan should be secured. Shelter officials have expressed a preference that the city not place a mortgage on their property, which is at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. The lack of a mortgage would make it easier for the shelter to take out a loan against the property in the future, but would create questions about what recourse the city would have if the shelter defaulted on the loan.

City staff members, however, report that shelter officials are willing to accept a mortgage on the property after some city commissioners raised the issue. Commissioners at their weekly meeting will be asked to decide the mortgage issue. Commissioners also will be briefed on other terms of the loan. They include:

• The first $225,000 of the loan would be interest free, provided it is paid back by Oct. 31, 2014.

• The remaining $500,000 would carry a 2 percent interest rate and would be paid back over 180 months.

• The loan is structured so that the shelter would be responsible for making a $287,191 balloon payment in January 2029.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


Steve Jacob 4 years, 7 months ago

This is a joke. This sets a terrible precedent. What's next, the Humane Society, Just Foods, Ballard Center.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 7 months ago

Sometimes, srj, you have to do something like this because the cost of the city providing the services directly is an even greater burden. Distasteful or not, allowing the shelter to fail and close will have social consequences to our community that will, in turn, lead to far greater expenses than a modest loan.

This is the right policy decision.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 7 months ago

They made themselves "too big to fail" by moving into the bigger place.

blindrabbit 4 years, 7 months ago

Build it and they will come begging for more. Trying to put a guilt trip on the Commission and the City. Shame, shame, shame!

John Graham 4 years, 7 months ago

Is anyone stupid enough to believe this will ever be paid back?

skinny 4 years, 7 months ago

If the City has the money to make loans maybe they ought to consider lowering my property taxes!!~!~

Like I said before. It is time for the City of Lawrence to switch to a different form of Government as this is crazy!

FarleyM 4 years, 7 months ago

If the city has that kind of cabbage laying around, why don't they spend it on something useful than a couple dozen or two people?

John Kyle 4 years, 7 months ago

Sounds good to me! This is what my tax dollars should be going to- helping out my fellow citizens.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

This year the shelter has had an average of twelve families with no where else to go. The Shelter also serves evening meals to more than one hundred so that people don't go to sleep hungry.

There were 2,481 people sleeping in the shelter in August 2013.

That is a lot more than two dozen people. The homeless includes young people, middle aged people, even old people, and those with families. Their stories are so different and often both fascinating and enlightening. If someone had the ability to sit down and listen to them, simply as person to person, they could learn a lot. Maybe even learn something about themselves.

Don't ever tell yourself that you have more than they do because you have earned it though your own efforts alone and therefore simply deserve it more. Don't ever think that God has chosen to bless you more than them because He loves you more. Because that is when the roof is going to fall in on you.

jimmyjms 4 years, 7 months ago

Mean-spirited and stupid. Go on down there and mock the women and children in person, tuff guy.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

No, I do not. I have a home due to the grace of God, and I am very appreciative and grateful. All of us should be aware of everything that we have that makes our lives comfortable and show gratitude instead of simply wanting more.

There are so many ways, weather, manmade, etc, that all can be wiped out in a heartbeat. No need to dwell on that possibility but just know that no one is immune from catastrophe.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 7 months ago

that's 80 different people every night for 31 days...heck motel 6 corporate execs ought to take notes.

not gonna blow smoke up your backside and not gonna let you blow any either.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

I got my information from the online shelter site. I don't think people for staying for just one night. That is the total number for that month. More than eighty people are in the shelter every night.

John Hamm 4 years, 7 months ago

And a lot of the people to whom they serve meals are there by choice not chance.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

Now I do agree with you there. I think that evening meal is silly so I will walk back what I wrote earlier. It might be best for them to just serve three meals a day to those who are staying at the shelter, no snacks provided. This is a different situation than the soup kitchen.

50YearResident 4 years, 7 months ago

Loaning $725,000 of city tax income money, collected as taxes from city residents for the purpose of sustaining the operation of the city and then loaned (Diverted) to a charity operation that has no income, no equity , no assets that are not already mortgaged and no guarantee that they will ever have enough money coming in to sustain their own operation of programs, let alone repay the $725,000 is the worst business decision any business leaders could ever make. I think if this loan is made, a recall election of all commissioners is in order.. Diverting tax money to loan out to a charity is very questionable as to whether it is even legal.

Bob Forer 4 years, 7 months ago

" $725,000 is the worst business decision any business leaders could ever make"

Did you fall asleep in civics class or simply skip? City government is not a business and our elected officials are not "business leaders."

50YearResident 4 years, 7 months ago

However the Commissioners are composed of business leaders or at least they claim to be. And the City is not a "Loan Agency" either,

Bob Forer 4 years, 7 months ago

Please specify the "business leaders" on the city commission and where they have specifically claimed to be "business leaders."

I am giving you a chance to improve your civics grade. Right now you are still at a D-. Your response did not help you in the least bit.

John Hamm 4 years, 7 months ago

And therefore should not be in the business of supporting other businesses. Be this a not-for-profit or not this is a business transaction.

Jeanne Gardner 4 years, 7 months ago

I wonder how many people with negative comments have ever even visited the homeless shelter. I have participated in cooking a meal one night a month for the past 5 years with a group of friends. In doing this I have seen first hand people who have absolutely no where else to go. One women diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer was given a bus ticket back to Lawrence to the shelter the day she was released from the hospital and that is where she lived out the remainder of her life....on a mat on the tile floor sharing a bathroom and shower with 39 other adults and trying to eat anything bland and soft that was donated by volunteers. Sure there are people who milk the system but I am so proud of the shelter and being part of a community that helps out people who are not as fortunate and need help. I hope all you who are so negative never have to experience a community with an "i don't care attitude". I for one am proud to belong to a community that looks out for others and not just for themselves.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for what you are doing. Despair is potent and can all but paralyze until all will to do anything is gone. It can seem like things are moving so slow or not at all. Sometimes a gentle nudge is needed. Those like you are a blessing to our community.

Sunny Parker 4 years, 7 months ago

We're forced to! I give enough of my tax dollars and I can hardly afford to cook a meal for my own family!

Xwards 4 years, 7 months ago

Why a new roof??? Isn't that building no more than a couple of years old??

Saul_Goodman 4 years, 7 months ago

Something smells really bad here. An engineer's report needs to be made public detailing the roof issues and why replacement is necessary. I have experience with this type of standing seam steel roof as a commercial insurance adjuster. There are no severe weather events since the building was put up to account for roof failure, and otherwise this type of roof should be good for 20-30 years. Typically any leaks or isolated issues can easily be repaired and maintained for < $1000. It also seems impossible to me that roof problems necessitating replacement would not have been addressed during the real estate transaction.

My charitable guess is that since the building was not designed to be a residence, the utilities are eating them alive. Overlaying the metal roof with insulation board and a reflective single-ply membrane would go a long way towards fixing this.

My less charitable guess would be ugly indeed.

I have long been a fan of Mr. Henderson and the mission of the shelter, but this needs much more examination.

deec 4 years, 7 months ago

It seems that the city always has plenty of money when it's time to dole out free infrastructure to well-connected developers. They have no problem foregoing millions in tax revenue when it benefits that same handful of very wealthy developers.

nativeson 4 years, 7 months ago

The problem with this request has nothing to do with the merits of the Shelter. They continue to provide an important social service to the community. The primary issue is the chain of events that put this organization in a place where it is unable to pay its debt. There is no accountability placed on the staff and the Board to manage its commitments and raise the appropriate amount of funding to accomplish their goals.

The City and County expect this type of accountability with other agencies. They expect groups to make their requests and wait in line. The Shelter has successfully put themselves in front of many other worthy agencies.

Tax dollars that are spent on agencies, services or economic development should all have a process of accountability attached to them. That is why this situation is so frustrating. Citizens know that any future debt service payments will not be made, because the Shelter has had a history of broken promises.

nick_s 4 years, 7 months ago

They have no income, they sell no services or products. They give their product away for free, that is why people have a tough time believing they will pay it back. I cant imagine everyone here is so heartless they would wish for worthy individuals to go hungry & sleep in the cold. Its that some of these people barely have enough money to feed their own families, & are one mis-step away from the shelter themselves, & are being asked to pony up more $$ for an entity that has no revenue streams to repay the loan, except what people give them.

I too am curious how this roof issue was not noticed during the inspection/purchase phase? Lack of oversight? Intentional? Who knows, but it does seem peculiar. If we are being asked to give our $$, then we should be given all of the information. But as with all of the other money pits this commission has indebted us to, we will never see an ounce of honest truth on this one either. Best case scenario, the misdeeds will be trickled out after we have fully committed to the project & have no recourse. Worst case, we will pay up, never hear a single bit of info, & grin & bear it. What else can we do? We voted them in, they know what is best, they're the experts.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 7 months ago

things to be answered:

-- what percentage of the shelter inhabitants are FROM Lawrence?

-- what percentage of shelter inhabitants are FAMILIES from Lawrence?

-- how is the accuracy of this information verified?

-- hasn't the shelter already been turning people away during the summer, within the first 6 months?

-- where are those people going after being denied entry?

-- what change has there been in the volume AND nature of law enforcement calls - both county & city - in the area from Noria Rd, N 1300 Rd to Haskell St, 22nd St??

-- what is the shelter's policy regarding drugs, alcohol, knives, guns and other similar items?

-- what percentage of new arrivals have NO form/proof of ID whatsoever?

-- how many days before the shelter is able to obtain state issued IDs?

-- how many registered sex offenders, convicted pedophiles, rapists, violent criminals, etc, has the shelter housed?

50YearResident 4 years, 7 months ago

The shelter will take the 5th on those questions. The answers will never be provided, and neither will an operation budget and financial statement..

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

If you go to this site you can find the answers to every one of those questions.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 7 months ago

um, not finding answers to those questions on their website. since you say they are there, could you please tell us where to find them? thanks.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

Click, about us, and then scroll down to annual reports.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps old fashioned, but what every happened to volunteerism? There are still areas of our nation where "if" the need could be proved, the roof would be no problem.

Years ago, I actually helped roof homes for the less fortunate.

Gee Wilikers....we build free homes for the poor, we can certainly gather a few local folks and see this problem through without dipping into tax money.

John Hamm 4 years, 7 months ago

Wissmo - IF you're referring to "Habitat for Humanity" those homes are paid for by the recipient after the construction. They aren't given to them free and clear.

geekin_topekan 4 years, 7 months ago

Jesus is clearly at work within the commissioners' hearts. God bless these Patriots for standing up for their fellow Americans.

patkindle 4 years, 7 months ago

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."

I am unsure where the shelter will get 225k in one year for the first payment? did I miss something??

smileydog 4 years, 7 months ago

What happened to George Snuffleupagus' pledge of $2 million? He could personally guarantee the loan.

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