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Homeless shelter police calls down for 2008
The Lawrence Community Shelter just can’t catch a break, at least when it comes to public relations.
The Community Shelter on Tuesday presented its annual report to city commissioners, and the report included some interesting statistics that show the shelter has had less need for the police to show up at its door.
Normally, that would have drawn some headline attention, but on Tuesday there was a host of other news about the homeless that trumped the statistics.
Specifically, city commissioners at their weekly meeting learned that the Community Shelter is looking at opening a temporary shelter at 13th and Massachusetts to house about 40 people who will lose their place to sleep once The Salvation Army closes its shelter.
Commissioners also got news on that front. The Salvation Army announced at Tuesday’s meeting that it will delay the closing of its shelter by one month, pushing the date back to June 1.
So, the annual report for the shelter, which is at 10th and Kentucky streets, ended up getting buried in a pile of other news. Here’s a look at some tidbits from the report:
• Statistics show that the number of times the police had to show up at the shelter was down 28 percent in 2008. But the statistics also show that the location is still a frequent destination for police officers. In 2008, there were 105 nonmedical calls for service at the shelter. That’s down from 145 calls in 2007. Unlike in past years, the report doesn’t detail the type of disturbances police were called to the shelter to investigate.
Loring Henderson, executive director of the shelter, said a part-time security officer was added to the staff of the shelter in 2008. He said he believed that played a role in reducing the police call numbers. He also said the shelter installed security cameras near the end of the year, which might help push numbers down some in 2009.
• The number of ambulance calls to the shelter also decreased in 2008. The shelter had 45 health-related calls for the year, down from 60 in 2007.
• A total of 632 people received service at the shelter in 2008. That’s up from 591 people in 2007, 562 in 2006 and 480 in 2005.
• For 2008, there were 309 new “guests” who used the shelter during the year.
• The shelter helped 37 people move into permanent housing during the year. Another 38 people were approved for housing, but are awaiting a housing unit to become available.
• On the job front, the shelter helped 46 people find a permanent job during the year, while another 21 found temporary jobs.
• The shelter helped 46 people during the year receive detox treatment, while the shelter also helped 69 people receive hospital or emergency room care.
• The report also included new information about where the people served at the shelter come from. The shelter has long faced accusations that it is a magnet for the homeless from other communities. The shelter has said that’s not the case. The new numbers show the majority of people served are from Douglas County, but the report also shows more than 100 people per year come from outside the county. In particular, the report lists that 425 people gave their address as Lawrence, 56 listed it as Eudora, and 151 listed it as somewhere outside of Douglas County.
The new information on residency was required by the United Way of Douglas County, which began providing funding for the shelter in 2008.