City leaders have begun informing community members staying at the city-sanctioned support site for those experiencing homelessness that a new safety policy will take effect Monday, April 24, 2023. The new policy is designed around nationally recognized best practices and after consultation with experts and individuals with lived experience.
Support Site leaders have already started discussing the revised policy, which includes a no visitor’s policy, with community members currently staying on-site. This process of creating a more secure environment for those experiencing homelessness began in early March when the City provided the area with 24-hour staffing and a hygiene trailer, then continued earlier this month when staff moved the current fencing to better surround the site’s working footprint.
City workers will post the new policies on a board at the site so residents know how to appropriately utilize services, and volunteers can continue to provide donations to help their neighbors in need. Mental health support services and other community outreach partners will be able to sign in as approved support visitors.
“Our goal has always been to help our at-risk neighbors experiencing homelessness,” says the City’s Homeless Programs Project Specialist, Cicely Thornton. “As the camp has evolved through time, needs also continue to change. We believe the people we serve should be afforded as much safety and privacy as possible while they work with community partners toward a more sustainable solution.”
Lawrence has experienced significant growth in the City’s unhoused population since the pandemic and our Point Time Count conducted in January of 2022 told us 232 community members were unhoused. However, Laura McCabe, a spokesperson for the City, says, “We estimate that number to be even higher now. We’ve always worked to find innovative solutions to help our community in compassionate ways and will continue that path, with the ultimate goal of making homelessness a rare and brief occurrence in our community.”
The Policy will take effect Monday and residents will have the opportunity to review and sign an expectations and rules agreement.
The city-sanctioned support site opened in October of 2022 to fill an emergent need and has always been a temporary solution to a shortage in shelter beds. Recently, the Lawrence City Commission approved a plan to develop a new 24/7 managed non-congregate emergency shelter consisting of up to 75 small cabins constructed by Pallet Homes (www.palletshelter.com). The new site, located at 256 N. Michigan, is projected to open this summer.
Contact: City Communications, email@example.com