A look inside the Village, Lawrence’s community to help people recover from homelessness

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Fifty small cabins will soon be available to help Lawrence community members experiencing homelessness recover and secure housing.

The City of Lawrence has raised the Village of Pallet emergency shelters at 256 N. Michigan St., the former location of Veritas Christian School. Lawrence Community Shelter staff members will run the site.

Misty Bosch-Hastings, homeless programs coordinator for the City of Lawrence, said she thinks a lot of people will probably compare the village to the city-sanctioned camp in North Lawrence.

But “I want them to know that this is a very well thought out plan. The operational plans are to help individuals end their homelessness,” Bosch-Hastings said. “It’s not just a place to sleep and party, and it’s actual working towards an end to their homelessness, with any support that they need to do so.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times The site has three 100-square-foot cabins like the one at left here — one that will serve as the staff office, and two that will serve as meeting spaces. There are 50 64-square-foot cabins for guests, like those on the right side of this image.

Veterans, older people, women emerging from domestic violence situations and people with disabilities who require specialized support and care are among the people the village aims to serve. Local agencies that work with people who are unhoused will be able to refer people for a spot.

It is not a low-barrier shelter; drugs and alcohol will not be allowed, and the village will have a curfew, with case-by-case exceptions for people who work nights. There will be no smoking allowed inside the cabins, and there will be a designated outdoor smoking area.

Despite snow falling Friday and a temperature of 32° outside, the small heater units kept cabins warm. The structures are small, but three journalists and a city staff member could comfortably stand inside one of the 64-square-foot spaces.

Here’s a panoramic image taken from the center of one cabin. Touch or click to load the panoramic, drag the image around and get a look inside.

Guests will be allowed to decorate the insides of their cabins. Dry erase markers work on the walls.

Each cabin has lights, a fire extinguisher, wall outlets and four windows. Shelving provides space for clothing and belongings, and a small desk surface. There’s also sitewide WiFi access.

Bedding will also be provided for guests, Bosch-Hastings said.

Staff members at the shelter’s main campus, 3655 E. 25th St., will prepare three meals a day and deliver them to the village.

Cicely Thornton, homeless programs project specialist for the city, said guests will be able to have two totes stored if they have possessions that won’t fit in their cabins.


There are 50 64-square-foot cabins for guests. They’re spaced about 10 feet apart.

The site also has three 100-square-foot cabins — one that will serve as the staff office, and two that will serve as meeting spaces.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Two 100-square-foot cabins are available as office spaces so that service providers and case managers can meet one-on-one with guests.

The site will be monitored with security 24/7, including 18 cameras placed throughout the site. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical and Lawrence police will have access in case of emergencies.

There will be no visitors, children or pets allowed, though there may be case-by-case exceptions for supervised visits with children.

As guests come and go, they will check in with a swipe card at the front gates, then trade that card with staff to get the key to their individual cabin. That’s to help prevent lost keys, Thornton said.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Staff members will keep the keys for each cabin secure when guests are not onsite.

The cabins themselves do not have plumbing, but there are two trailers that have three restrooms each with showers and toilets.

There is also a trailer that holds laundry facilities, which will be free for guests to use.


Outside most of the units, the ground is asphalt millings, and fairly squishy underfoot. Thornton said in the summer when the ground heats up, it will become a hard surface.

Four of the units are placed along a concrete path. Those units will be accessible for wheelchair users. They’re also closest to the restroom and laundry facilities at the front of the village.

Bosch-Hastings said she believes the four accessible units will be enough. At the moment, she didn’t know of four sheltered or unsheltered people experiencing homelessness who could stay in those cabins, “but things change.”

The community building onsite will serve as a gathering place.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times The community building at the village will serve as a space for guests to gather.
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Inside, there will be a water station inside the community building where guests can get a drink or fill up water bottles.

The operational plan includes language to allow guests to have a say in what’s going on there, Bosch-Hastings said. She’s hoping the Lawrence Community Shelter will have volunteers to coordinate communal activities and fun.

“I think once the fear dies down around all of this, and people realize how stable LCS is going to be with a strong leader, people are going to be more involved and want to be part of the solution,” she said.

James Chiselom

LCS’s new executive director, James Chiselom, started in his position Friday and visited the site.

Many executive team positions at the shelter — including director of human resources — still need to be filled.

The site will be ready for people to move in once the Lawrence Community Shelter is fully staffed.

Bosch-Hastings worked with Chiselom in their previous jobs, and she said he’s an advocate for his staff who listens and wants to develop solutions. She said she’s excited for his leadership.

“We’re here to support them however we can, too,” Bosch-Hastings said. “We want to make sure everything’s successful — it makes our job a lot easier if they’re doing amazing things.”

Thornton said depending on housing stock, she expects guests to stay at the village roughly three to six months, then move into permanent or supportive housing.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Mitch Young, Cicely Thornton and Misty Bosch-Hastings

City staff members have said they likely plan to have the village in place for about five years.

It’s one piece of a bigger plan to address homelessness and the local shortage of affordable housing.

Note: Post updated at 7:41 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5 to add video

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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