Lawrence Community Shelter moving to shared governance model with city, county

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The Lawrence Community Shelter is moving into a shared governance model with the City of Lawrence and Douglas County, according to a Wednesday announcement.

In an effort to better the growing local homelessness and housing crisis, the shelter’s board of directors will work in a renewed partnership, the city announced in a news release Wednesday.

The board will be restructured to include three members appointed by the mayor of Lawrence and approved by the Lawrence City Commission, two members appointed by the Douglas County Commission and two members appointed by the existing shelter board of directors, according to the release.

Previously, city and county staff members have attended board meetings in an advisory capacity, according to the release.

“A shift to a shared governance model mirrors the structure of other key institutions in the community, such as LMH Health, Lawrence Douglas County Housing Authority and Peaslee Technical Training Center,” according to the release.

The shelter has faced challenges over the past several years with turnover in staffing and leadership, among other things. The city in March helped the shelter to expand its bed availability by night, but that has meant reducing capacity during the daytime.

The city and county will work with the board to create a transition plan over the next 30 days and will keep the community updated on progress, according to the release. They do not anticipate any pauses or changes in services during that time.

Emergency sheltering is one facet of the systemic crisis the city and county aim to solve. The goal is to get people off the street and into a location where they can access support services and get into more permanent housing.

“Reaching an end to chronic homelessness in our community means having housing and resource options to help support people at every stage of homelessness,” Misty Bosch-Hastings, homeless programs coordinator for the City of Lawrence, said in the release. “An emergency shelter with the capacity to serve more individuals where those in need can also receive the support services they need, is vital. We strongly believe in the work that Lawrence Community Shelter has done in this community and we believe the City can provide additional resources that can extend that work to assist even more people in Lawrence and Douglas County.” 

Charlie Bryan, president of the shelter’s board of directors, said in the release that the board is thrilled to announce the restructure of the shelter’s governance model.

“At the Lawrence Community Shelter, we recognize our responsibility to the public, and this new framework will enhance our accountability,” Bryan said in the release. “We look forward to continuing our mission of providing essential services to our community with renewed dedication and transparency.”  

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