City of Lawrence plans: Open Pallet village, prohibit camping, establish police office downtown

Share this post or save for later

The City of Lawrence is planning to open a village of shelters for people experiencing homelessness Monday, soon end support at the sanctioned North Lawrence campsite, prohibit camping in that area and establish an office for police officers who will patrol downtown full time.

A two-page report in the Lawrence City Commission’s meeting agenda for Tuesday, March 19 lays out staff members’ plans in a bit more detail on all the planned changes. The report does not ask for the commission to vote to approve any plans.

The Lawrence Community Shelter will operate the Village, a community of 50 cabin-like structures on North Michigan Street for people experiencing homelessness. People will start moving into those shelters on Monday, March 18. Construction at the site has been complete for months, but the shelter needed to hire enough staff members to manage it.

The city has previously said that veterans, older people, women emerging from domestic violence situations and people with disabilities who require specialized support and care were among the people the Village would aim to serve. It was less clear from Tuesday’s meeting agenda whether more vulnerable people would be given priority to move in.

The first guests who will move in at the Village are all people who reside in the city-sanctioned camp in North Lawrence, which the city dubbed Camp New Beginnings, followed by others who stay in nearby camps, according to the report.

“This will reduce the population camping in that area by half,” according to the report.

The remaining roughly 25 folks camping in that North Lawrence area “will be supported by City staff, advocates and service providers to access shelter by April 15,” according to the agenda item. City staff members will continue to provide electricity, drinking water and food for people camping in the area until Monday, April 15.

Starting Tuesday, April 16, camping will no longer be allowed on city-owned property in the North Lawrence area that is zoned as central business district. The first page of the map below shows the outline of that zoning district, and on the second page, city-owned property is marked with blue markers.


“Following closure of the north Lawrence Central Business District camps, we will be able to work in other camps to connect people to shelter and wind down camping based on available sheltering capacity, focusing first on the larger more prominent campsites then moving to the dozens of smaller camps across the community,” according to the agenda item. “We will continue building capacity in sheltering, outreach and supportive services with the goal of connecting people in campsites to safe shelter and services that enable them to access housing.”

The Lawrence Police Department had planned to add full-time foot patrol in downtown at the beginning of April, but that has started this week, according to the agenda item.

Downtown foot patrol has previously been available as overtime assignments on a volunteer basis; now, two officers will work 40 hours per week downtown.

“Schedules will be flexible to allow these officers to adjust to needs and trends,” according to the agenda item. “As staffing allows, LKPD will provide additional officers on foot and bike patrol downtown and in surrounding areas.”

LPD is also working to establish an office in the former Lawrence Transit office at 933 New Hampshire St.; “Until that transition is complete, plans for temporary office space are being explored,” according to the agenda item.


LPD previously occupied some space at the downtown Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, but they moved operations out of that building and into the West Lawrence headquarters after its construction was completed in 2020.

The report to the commission will also include an update on a multidisciplinary homeless response team, which will include a mental health provider, substance use disorder specialist, peer support specialist, emergency shelter provider, physical health provider and law enforcement officer, according to the agenda item.

Misty Bosch-Hastings, now director of the city’s homeless solutions division, told commissioners about her vision for the team in more detail back in October.

She said at the time that she believes the city needs a team that will meet people where they are and work on connecting them to services in a progressive engagement model: “Whereas other approaches may be guided by a sense that providers can predict what kind of interventions are needed, or kind of a provider saying ‘I know what’s best for you,’ progressive engagement meets each household where they are, focused on housing,” she said. “Progressive engagement assesses a household’s unique strengths and circumstances to determine the lightest touch interventions required to resolve their immediate housing crisis.”

The team will conduct street outreach five days per week and on call as needed, according to the report.

The Lawrence City Commission will hear the report during its meeting Tuesday, March 19 at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The meeting is set to begin at 5 p.m. with a 30-minute executive session (closed-door meeting) to discuss “privileged legal communications from the City’s attorneys regarding laws and policies and their application to City operations,” followed by the regular meeting.

Meetings are open to the public and livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel, See the complete meeting agenda at this link.

People may submit written public comment to commissioners until noon the day of the meeting by emailing People may also give public comment during meetings in person or via Zoom; register for Tuesday’s Zoom meeting at this link

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

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.

Latest Lawrence news:


Previous Article

Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade to return Sunday

Next Article

East 1900 Road ramp to westbound K-10 to close through April