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Bill 2430: What is it? And what does it mean for our community?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

There have been many concerning things happening lately in this country affecting many different groups such as the Willow Project or the “TikTok ban” (which goes much farther than just banning TikTok), but one that you may not have heard as much about, if at all, is House Bill 2430. This bill is affecting a group that is often forgotten because they make many uncomfortable, whether that be from stereotypes or bad experiences. This group concerns the homeless, and they are often misunderstood.

This bill is specific to Kansas and its goal is to criminalize poverty by making it a crime for anyone to sleep on or block sidewalks even if they have nowhere else to go. Also, if the county does not prosecute the people who commit these “crimes” then they will not receive any more state funding for homelessness. To top that off this also applies to counties that have a much higher rate of homelessness than they have the capacity to take care of and to those that have a higher rate of homelessness compared to other counties in the state. Both of which apply to Douglas County as we only have one shelter that is a ways outside of town with little funding as is. Ideally, we don’t want these people to have to resort to sleeping on the streets in general and would prefer if sidewalks were not blocked, but many don’t have any other choice. If this bill passes then it could create many problems for this group and for the community as a whole.

There are many stereotypes surrounding homelessness and what leads to it such as laziness, criminal history, addiction, violence, etc. Most people who have become part of the homeless population did not get there because they were lazy but because they were forced to. Getting a job in today’s workforce can be hard as is, but keeping one and making enough to maintain even the bare minimum lifestyle has become even harder. Many people who are now part of the homeless community have a job, but not one that can pay for their basic needs such as shelter and food. It has even been found that 35% of families cannot afford their basic needs budget at this point in time because their wages are not enough to afford rent, food, medical care, etc. in today’s economy. Other misconceptions that can go hand in hand with one another are that all homeless people are criminals, addicts, violent, or all three. Many homeless people are not actually criminals or do not participate in any criminal activity until they are homeless because many of the things they have to do to survive such as loitering or sleeping in public areas can be classified as crimes. Many people also believe that people become homeless because they are addicted to drugs or alcohol and spent all of their money on those things causing them to not be able to afford basic needs, but only 20% of the homeless population has reported becoming homeless due to drug or alcohol addiction, and usually addiction comes after as a coping mechanism, if at all. Another big issue is that people think all homeless people are very violent, but many times they may seem violent due to the media playing up an event where someone in the homeless community was being very violent and made that mainstream. Violence may also be due to some mental illness or just misunderstanding.

Homelessness here in Douglas county is a pretty big issue. For starters, we only have one shelter that is located a few miles outside of town next to the jail. There is only one bus that runs there and it does not run every day of the week making it hard for those who need it to access it as they don’t have many forms of transportation. Even if they get there they most likely will not be able to be accepted right away because the shelter has little funding and a low capacity. Residence are cycled out over time and while they reside at the shelter, the shelter does everything in its power to help them get on their feet before they have to leave, but with such limited resources, this can be hard to achieve. Being next to the jail feeds the stereotype of that population being criminals to the general population and may make those who end up in the shelter internalize it as well. This can lead to preconceived notions about them that cost them opportunities.

Overall our shelter needs more funding and support with our large and growing homeless population and if this bill is passed they would have less. The people who currently do not fit into the capacity of the shelter at the moment would likely get arrested and sent to jail if this bill passed because they have nowhere else to go than in public areas. Having a criminal record will make it harder for them to get jobs and make it so that they may remain homeless and a horrible cycle will start. Not to mention the more of them that end up in jail the higher our community’s taxes will be due to needing more funding for our jail for all their new residents which could be better used just fixing the problem in the first place.

So what can you do to stop this and help this population? A great start would be to write to our Kansas governors in protest of the bill and showing more support for our local homeless resources through donating or volunteering. Another way you can help is to contact the Lawrence Community Shelter and ask if there is any way you can support them in this fight against this bill.

Serena Toll is a writer for the Kansas chapter of Her Campus at the University of Kansas. She has been a part of Her Campus since January of 2023. Serena loves to write about mental health, overall wellness, travel, social issues, and occasionally entertainment. Beyond Her Campus, Serena is a sophomore at the University of Kansas who is studying Social Work and Psychology. She loves to learn about mental health and use her major to help those in her life and others through her articles at Her Campus. Over the summer she worked as a Baraita at Scooters and took a kayaking trip in Florida. In her free time, Serena loves to run and is a part of the KU Running Club where she runs with her friends and does the occasional race. She also loves to play video games, is coffee-obsessed, reads, and loves to plan out elaborate trips to places she can't afford!