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Where do you think is the best place for a new homeless shelter?

Asked at Lawrence Community Shelter on November 10, 2006

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Photo of Jessica Collins

“I like it where it’s at. All of our resources are downtown. LINK is across the street, the Salvation Army is a couple blocks away and we have access to the bus.”

Photo of Minnie Grimm

“Out on 23rd Street somewhere near Louisiana. People aren’t showing enough respect around here, the police are always coming by and this is a more dangerous area.”

Photo of Michelle Barnes

“Over somewhere by Sixth and Wakarusa. Granted, that’s the rich part of town for some, but it’s a lot closer to grocery stores, gas stations and jobs.”

Photo of Kamron Wolf

“There are a lot of resources and entry-level jobs over on 23rd Street. There are more restaurants, fast-food places, grocery stores and gas stations, and a lot of bus stops.”

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jonas 11 years, 4 months ago

Uh. . . yeah. Good luck with that Michelle.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 4 months ago

I hope this thread stays nice today.

How about in the Louisiana Purchase shopping mall? Murl seems to be a caring kind of guy.

jhawkdpt 11 years, 4 months ago

This is a difficult question for the city, residents, and students to consider. Without a doubt these citizens need access to services which makes downtown a possibility. However, business owners and residents woulld prefer to have the shelter and the homeless 'out of sight.' Additionally, access to transportation is a major isssue if the shelter is located away from services. Volunteers that work with the homeless will tell you the best option is to keep the shelter near downtown, but limit the hours that it operates (ie - nights, mornings, meals, etc.) to give the homeless an advantage by having access to jobs during the day.

jonas 11 years, 4 months ago

In case you missed it, Sweeper, this debate was going on during a Republican admin., congress and senate. The fact that we're STILL talking about it now that the situation has shifted proves. . . well. . . jack and @#$%, and jack left town. Thanks for playing!

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

The answer to this question depends on where the person lives and shops. The "best" place to most people will be somewhere they neither live nor shop.

Stephen Prue 11 years, 4 months ago

Wishing that the "homeless" would just go away is nonproductive but understanding that for many this is a life style while others are truly in need of society's assistance. Assisting the needy while discouraging those people who have chosen to live outside society's norm and are a drain on limited resources is difficult. I would vote for a location north of the river.

geppetto 11 years, 4 months ago

We have a lot of farm land. Build there somewhere in the middle of nowhere and let them work for their own food and survival. Farm a small plot of land, hunt wild animals and raise a few farm animals. That should do it. The only money they would need is for seeds, and maybe clothes.


unite2revolt 11 years, 4 months ago

Electing republicans like Boyda and Morrison who can't win a republican primary, doesn't really mean the democrats have taken over the country. Liberal Democrats, especially those that vote straight down the ticket have been had, but thanks for voting in fiscal conservatives so that we don't have to worry about social conservatives banning gay marriage or abortion anymore. Oh wait the Supreme Court already does that don't they, gee checks and balances.

Fiscal conservatives whether red or blue now make up about 150 seats in the House. Not to mention that Bush still has the VETO and creates the first draft of the federal budget. I honestly doubt we are going to suddenly see an increase in spending on new Social Services.

I am still curious if the Dems are going to see this as a new way to win elections. 40 yr Republican millionaires who are second runner ups in the primaries may suddenly be offered the Democratic Nomination for President, if they are willing to switch parties long enough to get into office, denounce Bush and the War.

If alot of this happens the liberals may find themselves without a party anymore.

BJ 11 years, 4 months ago

Grimm and Wolf, please go back to where you came from; you're not even from Lawrence. Michelle, just say it: "easier to get free money". And Ms. Collins, what exactly do you mean by "all of our resources"? Just wondering.

jonas 11 years, 4 months ago

"Posted by OTSSweeper (anonymous) on November 10, 2006 at 7:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Tell us more personal info about the patients will you?"

Errrr. . . wha? Was that even directed at me?

c_doc77 11 years, 4 months ago

Unite is right.

But concerning homeless shelters, I like the idea of a semi-rural camp sort of like the old time hobo depression days' camps near the railroad tracks. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I'm really being honest.

A couple of years ago there were some homeless people living in the woods near the the river, and the city came and bulldozed their makeshift home - destroying what few belongings these people posessed. I respected these people for building their own little community. They weren't hurting anyone.

If I was homeless, I would retreat to the woods if I didn't have a wife and kid. It just seems so much more respectable than living in a homeless shelter.

KSChick1 11 years, 4 months ago

jonas, that wasn't directed at you, I think OTS was speaking about how their names and hometowns were listed next to their pictures, and then it said Shelter Resident.

you're first comment above was hilarious!

jonas 11 years, 4 months ago

Ah. Thanks for clearing that up for me. Glad I get a laugh now and then, too.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

Hey! Michigan has enough of its own homeless. Except up here, we call them "unionized auto workers."

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

In respect for Gootsie (who requested that we keep it nice), I will try...perhaps not successfully. I guess the "face of the homeless" that most of us see are the bums begging for money, that you have to step over, on Mass street. That is damn irritating. My hubby actually offered a guy a job once and the guy would not take was easier to beg. It is really hard to be compasionate when that is what we see. I realize there is more to the "big picture," but before I can honestly answer this question, I want to know what every last resident is doing in the shelter. I want to know how hard they are trying to improve their situation. (I'd be busting my hump!) So, "as nicely as I can", I would suggest an inquiry of all the residents. The ones who are "trying" will get a nice new building someplace convenient to get to work and other services they require (whatever those are). The others get a one way bus ticket.

alm77 11 years, 4 months ago

Sunflower_Sue, the shelter is very open to volunteers. Even if you only want to do it long enough to actually see for yourself where you stand on the issue. I've heard from people who have done that and decided it wasn't worth and I know of several who still volunteer there.

My husband was having a discussion with one of the guys in charge of the shelter and he was talking about the success stories that don't get recognized. I believe he said that there were 32 cases of people who have gotten jobs and apartments and are on their way to self-sufficiency.

mr_daniels 11 years, 4 months ago

Frisco Bay Hey Hey! Where Socialism dwells big time. REAL people there Man who care! I am sure that not to many of you folks remember Say Leeroy who was a street dude about four years ago? Well he relocated to Frisco and he doing mighty fine out there, yes siree bob!

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

RI, my brother would love that.

Alm, volunteer to do what? Cook? Clean? Counsel? Not trying to be glib. Seriously, just want to know what volunteers do there.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

sue: "Not trying to be glib."

You are doing a great disservice to those of us who do try to be glib.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

How many homeless are you talking about in Lawrence? A survey was just completed here in Edmonton (of the frozen north). The count revealed 2600 homeless who need shelter this winter. These are people who actually live on the street, not people in shelters. 2600!!! My heart aches for them on these bitterly cold nights. Last winter when the temp. really dipped, the city opened the underground transit stations for them to plop their sleeping gear for the night. (we have an underground light rail transit system) The stations are large and heated to some extent. but this is not a solution to the homeless problem. How could we provide shelter for 2600 people on a regular basis? I wish someone had the answer. We are so quick to condemn street people. They are in that situation not from choice. But as Sue said, the guy turned down the offer of a job from her hubby. Who knows what his problem is? A lot of these people have severe emotional and mental problems. I HAVE volunteered (more than once)in a homeless shelter in our city and it is heart-breaking to talk to some of them. Their problems are over-whelming for them. And for the city.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

OH, OH - now Sue is going to ask me what I did as a volunteer. This was not a permanent job. Groups from my church went there on a regular basis. We did a short worship service, then helped serve the food and then we chatted with the people. Not much you say, and that is true. But it showed them that someone cared about them. And believe me, we could not have done it if we had not cared about them. It was not a pleasant experience. Have you ever sat beside a man who stunk of stale beer, vomit and bad body odor and then had him lean over and put his head on your shoulder? What would you do if that happened to you? Jump up and cuss him out or just sit there. He had a problem. Read Matthew 25:35-46

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

"Kind-hearted"? Can I put that on my resume?

I suggest Nebraska. There's a lot of corn to husk there.

pelliott 11 years, 4 months ago

SunflowerSue, I hope you do find out the information you want. Go meet them, do something. If you see in front of you someone who meets your criteria of deserving, then do something. Be careful, desperate people sometimes do desperate things. Use the agency system, find out what you can do. When I was a kid my Dad had us do a lot of volunteer work for the SA, We had one old lady on our list, we would deliver a box of food and Dad had us repair the sidewalk for this 86 year old widow that lived in her little house. we also weeded her little flower bed she had. She was a great old gal, very slow. Her neighbor use to yell at us. He was a big thirty year old fart of a guy. He said, come and fix his house, that if they (the old couple, the guy dead) had been smart that they wouldn't need little kids coming and doing stuff for them. It really embarassed her. It was freaky. He didn't do that when my dad was around. The neighbor had very personal criteria for who was deserving. No manners though. You are right, you should know more, go for it.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 4 months ago

Why do the interviewees care about being close to fast food restuarants and gas stations? They should be taking the bus and not needing gas. If they even own cars, they should sell them to pay for rent and still take the bus. And they shouldn't be eating at expensive fast food joints. If they want to work there that's good, but take the bus to work. You don't have to live next door to it.

Whatever their situation is, be glad you have shelter and food. Make a plan to get your life turned around. For those who don't want a life plan, screw you when you ask for a new and improved facility and location. Mooches.

Because of the worst of the elements at the shelters, it should stay where it's at. There is no better place for it, other than out of town. The strong will survive and progress with the help of the city and state as it currently stands. Don't get greedy people. You are already receving a lot of free assistance.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 4 months ago

I say near downtown, even as someone who lives, shops, and works in the area. ALL the buses stop there, not just one or two--you can get anywhere in town from 9th and Mass.

It isn't a prison, it is a shelter that needs to be accessible to anyone in a crisis situation. You also can't arrive at the shelter late or sleep late, so being far from the central hub of buses and public services could be very discouraging and cause problems. You can leave the shelter on foot and be on your way across town quickly. Downtown is at least well-lit, it has sidewalks, and the police station is close by.

I think both Lawrence and downtown are big enough for everyone, and I wonder whose interests Downtown Lawrence, Incorporated is most concerned with. They have a mixed record through my time here-- they're definitely no Boulder Independent Business Alliance.

craigers 11 years, 4 months ago

Posted by Gootsie (anonymous) on November 10, 2006 at 6:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I hope this thread stays nice today.

How about in the Louisiana Purchase shopping mall? Murl seems to be a caring kind of guy.

I know this is bad but at least they wouldn't have to worry about getting a tow charge.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

I guess I forgot to mention that the guy who turned down the job held a sign that said: "Will work..." I guess he knew most people find it easier to give money than to offer a job.

Let me also say that I have done a fair share of volunteer work. My mother always set a good example. She used to go to the state hospital and do whatever they needed. Her worse job was sitting for hours trying to converse with a woman that did not acknowledge the world around her. She really hated doing it but always showed up to do it anyway. My worse volunteer job was daily feedings of a woman who laid flat on her back and could barely swallow. I always felt like I was going to end up drowning her with chicken broth. Horrible! Unless I got the food down her, she'd just starve to pressure!

Ms_C-"Have you ever sat beside a man who stunk of stale beer, vomit and bad body odor and then had him lean over and put his head on your shoulder?"
Yes! Riding public transit in San Francisco.

alm77 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm in a group that provides a meal once a month. I think if you called them they could tell you a group you could join or a night that you could have a group come in. Part of our group serves the food and part of us just hang out and get to know the folks there. I don't know what other volunteer positions they have.

jonas 11 years, 4 months ago


"I know this is bad but at least they wouldn't have to worry about getting a tow charge."

Sometimes the truth is funny, sometimes it hurts, but so rarely is it both!

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

Sue - what an experience! I would just love to have seen your face when his head hit your shoulder. :o)

geekin_topekan 11 years, 4 months ago

Pardon my thread bust but Sarge's suggestion to send them to Nebraska may not be a bad idea for a few non-Lawrence friends who somehow wound up here.Should they feel the need to move elsewhere,Lincoln,Ne adopted a panhandling law last year that was the result of a lawsuit brought on by a homeless man who recruited a lawyer and challenged a ticket/jail time as unconstitutional.Infringed on his rights.By displaying as sign that read "please help" he is exercising his freedom. So early 2005 the city passed a law that said flying a sign was perfectly legal if a few rules were followed. Not within 25 ft of a bus stop or ATM. Not after sundown. Not on private property,the city's grassy strip next to the curb was public,therefore legal.

I apologize for the thread bust. Carry on.

alm77 11 years, 4 months ago

H_L: That was funny. Sick, but funny.

Ceallach 11 years, 4 months ago

I can just see the two of you doing volunteer work together. Our sue grabbing and holding them while ms_c feeds them homemade veggie soup, cleans them up and points them in the right direction. Indeed, they would be a dynamic duo!!

Oh yeah, question of the day, I can't think of the "best" place for a shelter. It will be a problem, for one reason or another, wherever it is located.

lubyloo 11 years, 4 months ago

How about the old Food 4 Less building?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

Wait, ceal -- would anyone have a problem with a shelter located on the moon?

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

s_sue - ceallach has a great idea there. Are you game? I am if you are. In no time we would have the whole dang problem solved.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

sgt. - I, for one, would not mind a trip to the moon. Sue and I could escort a gang of homeless up there and get them settled. That would be a neat experience indeed.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 4 months ago


I was referring to the actual comments from the people who were interviewed that are shelter residents. Sorry for the confusion. Was just wondering why those locales were their priority hot spots to live close to.

I'm surprised someone didn't say that it needs to be located by the discount liquor and cigarette store. Or by a cardboard recycler so they can make free signs.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

ms_c, that would indeed be extraordinary -- an international team making an interplanetary trip.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 4 months ago

There seems to be an idea that being "near resources" is important. If I'm homeless, the "resource" that I need is MONEY. So, I'm of the opinion that those who said to put them close to minimum wage jobs is on the right track. Putting them close to more "handouts" will keep them dependent on handouts. Put them somewhere where the can find work.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

Besides the question of the day. Want some rather interesting reading. Try You can read the entire speech by the head of MI5 in Britain re the terrorist threat to her country.

Ceallach 11 years, 4 months ago

Surprise, surprise, I agree with sue :) I would think more information about the individual, why they are there, their immediate needs, long-term needs, hopes/plans for the future, etc., must be attained before any "resource" can actually help the person beyond a meal, a cup of coffee or a bed for the night.

Real help can only occur when a recipient plans to use a resource/resources to regain their physical and/or mental and/or financial stability.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

Ms_C, I have a deep seeded fear of going to the moon. I'd rather get back on a bus in San Fran and let that smelly gentleman sit on my lap. I'm not kidding. The odor lingered long after he left. Can you say "Purell shower?"

My mom was friends with a homeless lady that slept on a Wal-Mart bench at night (not in Lawrence). Anyway, this lady would come to the Senior Center to pass the day. Mom would try to get this lady to go to a shelter and told her of a few jobs that she knew. The lady said she preferred the bench as she thought it was safer than the shelter. She said that the cops would come by a couple of times a night to check on her. She also told mom that she preferred to be homeless (and jobless) as she already got everything she needed given to her. The woman had no disabilities, no drug habits, no obvious mental problems...and yet she chose to be homeless. Who knows??? Mom also knew a homeless gentleman who always came to the soup kitchen everyday for his meals. She said that you could see breadsacks through the holes in his boots. He had no family that anyone knew of. When he died, he left more than a million $s to the soup kitchen (this was more than 30 years ago). You really never know. The point I'm trying to make is, sometimes you can talk to someone 'til your blue in the face. They will only let you know what they want you to know. I do admire the people who keep trying to help someone...but the person has to want the help.

Ceallach 11 years, 4 months ago

Too many questions at 5:00 ish, RI! I will check that out and reply later. I just have a feeling that ms_c will have already ridded them of that absessed tooth :)

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

Sue - I agree, this is a big, big problem that is not going to go away anytime soon and just has to be dealt with as best we can. I really did not want to go to the moon either. I am cold enough here. It looks too cold way up there.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

november, like I never know! :)

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