February 13, 2016

Police ask couple to leave vacant property

Amy Cunningham

A homeless couple was asked to leave a site they had been squatting on at the intersection of Clare Road and 175th Street in Gardner on Wednesday morning.

The home, long vacant, was destroyed by the property owner more than a week ago, but the couple remained on the property with several vehicles packed full of all of their belongings and their dog. According to the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, the couple was given until the end of the week to vacate the area or face possible prosecution for criminal trespassing.

Wednesday morning the woman remained at the site, unsure of what to do – her companion was arrested earlier in the day for outstanding child support payments.

“I’m-I’m just not sure what to do,” she said, shell-shocked.

She said that prior to his arrest, her husband’s  was able to secure a small storage unit, but they had almost filled it completely full. The woman wasn’t sure how she was going to move the rest of her belongings because the tags on couple’s vehicles weren’t current.

The woman said that the year had been difficult for her and her husband – culminating with a lost house in the Pumpkin Ridge subdivision.

While Gardner isn’t a haven for the homeless, according to Gardner Police Department spokesperson Ilena Spalding, the city does occasionally see passers through in need of assistance.  It is unusual, but not unheard of, for a local family to be homeless. She said the department tries to offer assistance to those in need.

“They have never asked us for assistance,” Spalding said of the pair.

JoAnne Haworth, with the Gardner Multi-Service Center said that she wasn’t quite sure how to best help at this point.  She said that area shelters are already overflowing and that it would be very difficult to get them into the Salvation Army shelter in Olathe since adults with children take priority.  She also said that the pair would, most likely, have to abandon all that they own in order to get into a shelter.

“It’s unfortunate, but many times a homeless person has to choose between staying with their belongings and staying out (in the elements) or going to a shelter,” Haworth explained.  She also said it would most likely be impossible for the couple to keep their dog if they were able to find a shelter that could squeeze them in.

By Wednesday afternoon Reverend Ken Porter of the Gardner First Baptist Church made contact with the woman.  He was able to find additional storage and arrange a tow for the vehicles.

Porter was working on finding people to help the woman transport her items to storage.  He also helped make contact with a relative who agreed to shelter the woman and her dog.


  1. If further help is needed for this family and if something is set up where I know the money would be going directly to this family in need, I would be glad to contribute and hope all parties including the Gardner News keep the citizens advised.

  2. Rev. Porter has my respect. Thank you for stepping up.

  3. Stephanie Reece says:

    What a wonderful end to what could have been a tragic story for this woman. All that she and her husband have left is their belongings and I would not want to part with them either. Thank you Reverend Porter for stepping up and helping a member of the community in need. It shouldn’t take someone “asking” for help in order to receive it. Out here in CA I deal with more homeless people than KS folk could even imagine and I only wish that the communities here could draw together to do what Reverend Porter has done.

  4. Teresa... says:

    Has anything been set up where we can help this couple?

  5. i am closest friend to this couple. we both going thru pretty much same things. if anyone has anything to say please lets keep this off nation wide humilation.po box 95 gardner ks 66030 is where things can be sent there has been no real help out there for us as in. turned away from everyone. times are hard as is. And news paper came out and asked to do a write up and she stated no . but look. it was hard enough having ppl honk and see way of living but doin best can when there is no family or state or county help. thanks keep further more off there . put ur self in their shoes. God Bless.

  6. Maybe if you would tell us what help is needed, someone would help. It’s hard to ask; none of us like to be down and out. God Bless you as well.

  7. we both looking for a home and liable car and any helpful resources. We are at a loss.

  8. Oh Please, I know this couple too, maybe if they worked they would still have a home!!! He REFUSES to work because he doesn’t want to pay child support and she is just lazy, choosing to fraudulently claim disability. Thank God, SRS stepped in and removed HER child from their irresponsible lifestyle. There are people out there whose circumstances warrant assistance. Helping these two is enabling THEIR CHOICES to NOT live responsibly. I know if Rev. Porter or anyone else knew the true background of these two they would see how their resources would be better served with someone else.

  9. P>S They have never asked for public assistances because they have been “helping” themselves. Squatting on property–stealing utililties whereever they live, shoplifting, and mooching off friends and family. The reason there are no friends or family to help them is because they USED them all up.

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