City of Lawrence hires homeless programs coordinator, communications specialist

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The City of Lawrence has hired a homeless programs coordinator after searching for a replacement for more than six months. 

With a psychology degree from Washburn University and years of experience working with unhoused people, Misty Bosch-Hastings is the city’s new homeless programs coordinator, according to a Tuesday news release from the city. 

In her role, “Misty will focus on systems for those experiencing chronic homelessness and for those experiencing homelessness with behavioral health issues, such as substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders,” according to the release. “She will work within the Lawrence community as a liaison to all service providers, Continuum of Care, funders, advocates and other parties actively engaged in mitigating the impacts of homelessness.”

In January, the city’s former homeless programs coordinator resigned from her position after complaining about a lack of support from city leaders and protesting a short-lived plan to close the camp in North Lawrence. The position has remained open since.

Bosch-Hastings most recently served as the director of guest services at the Topeka Rescue Mission Ministries (TRMM). Prior to that, she worked for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services as the housing and homelessness project coordinator, according to the release.

An advocate for people experiencing homelessness, Bosch-Hastings wrote testimony to the Kansas Legislature opposing House Bill 2430, which planned to penalize people for unauthorized camping.

“I started working with the homeless population in 2005 after losing my father who was frequently homeless due to his mental illness, in a way to honor him,” she wrote, also sharing that she has lived experience with homelessness. 

In the testimony, Bosch-Hastings promotes housing first, argues against criminalizing homelessness and writes that while working at KDADS in 2019, she was allowed to use $100,000 to house 65 people. 

“At last check, around 80% of those individuals were still housed,” she wrote. “I was also able to create a housing program at Topeka Rescue Mission that has about a 95% success rate after one year of being housed.”

“… Ending mass homelessness is my personal and professional passion,” Bosch-Hastings continued in her testimony. “I deeply care about ending homelessness in this state.” 

The city has also hired Millie Pageau as its new communications and community engagement specialist. 

Pageau, from Tucson, Arizona, previously worked as a community consultant for a variety of clients, including the City of Tucson, according to the city’s release. 

Pageau’s position will be funded by federal COVID-19 relief dollars for the first 12 months, according to the release. 

“In addition to the new team members, the City will soon begin recruiting for a Director of Homeless Programs, who will lead a new City department that is being proposed with the 2024 recommended budget,” according to the release. “If approved, the Department will focus on operations and implementation of solutions to end chronic homelessness in our community.”

Danelle Walters, assistant director of planning and development services, said in the release that the city is thrilled to welcome these new team members. 

“Both women bring expertise and experience in their subject areas and are eager to dive in and start making an impact on this community,” Walters said in the release. 

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