City of Lawrence, Douglas County and Lawrence Community Shelter move to shared governance model

September 6, 2023 1:30 pm


The City of Lawrence, Douglas County, and Lawrence Community Shelter are committed to addressing the growing homelessness crisis in our community. The City and County’s recent affordable housing and homelessness strategic plan, A Place for Everyone, identifies the need for increased capacity and improved outcomes in emergency sheltering.

To scale the impact of this challenging work, the City is working with both Douglas County and the Lawrence Community Shelter board of directors on a renewed partnership that will move the Lawrence Community Shelter to a shared governance model. The Lawrence Community Shelter will amend its bylaws to restructure its board of directors. The new board will consist of seven members, with three board members appointed by the City of Lawrence Mayor with the consent of the City Commission, two board positions appointed by the Douglas County Commission, and an additional two members appointed by the existing Lawrence Community Shelter board of directors.

"We are thrilled to announce this important agreement with the City of Lawrence and Douglas County to restructure our governance model,” said Charlie Bryan, Lawrence Community Shelter board president. “At the Lawrence Community Shelter, we recognize our responsibility to the public, and this new framework will enhance our accountability. We look forward to continuing our mission of providing essential services to our community with renewed dedication and transparency."

Historically, City and County staff have attended LCS Board of Directors meetings in an advisory capacity. 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.

The City and County are working closely with the Lawrence Community Shelter’s board of directors to create a transition plan over the next 30 days, and will keep the community updated on progress. There will be no pause or adjustment in services during this time of transition.

Lawrence Community Shelter, the City of Lawrence and Douglas County are focused on improving the emergency sheltering component of our community-wide, systemic approach. With emergency sheltering, the focus is on ensuring there is enough shelter available for those in need. Increased emergency sheltering capacity helps get individuals off the street and in a location where they have access to support services that can help them get to other types of transitional, supportive or more permanent housing. The combined impact of the City’s resources along with direct service expertise at Lawrence Community Shelter will enhance the overall effectiveness of emergency sheltering in Douglas County.

“Reaching an end to chronic homelessness in our community means having housing and resource options to help support people at every stage of homelessness,” said Misty Bosch-Hastings, Homeless Programs Coordinator, City of Lawrence. “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.”

Our communitywide, systemic approach to ending chronic homelessness only works if every piece of that system is functioning together toward our greater purpose. The partnership between the City of Lawrence, Douglas County and Lawrence Community Shelter will enhance the roles each organization plays within this system, which will ultimately improve the way in which we will assist people in our community.

"This transition to a shared governance model for a vital community resource is consistent with the City and County’s strategic plan to end chronic homelessness, A Place for Everyone,” said Jill Jolicoeur, Assistant County Administrator for Douglas County. “Our shared commitment is for all Douglas County residents to have access to the fundamental human right of safe, accessible, attainable and affordable housing, in which homelessness is a rare and brief occurrence. This requires a resilient continuum of care that has a strong foundation in emergency shelter resources for our most vulnerable community members.”

The Lawrence Community Shelter is an integral component of our communitywide response to ending chronic homelessness. The City and its continuum of care partners see increased capacity and support services through the shelter as key pieces of a shared plan to address the system-wide challenges necessary to end chronic homelessness.

Through the collaborative delivery of the strategic plan to support A Place for Everyone, we are confident in a continued partnership between our organizations toward this effort, and we recognize the vital role the Lawrence Community Shelter plays as an emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness.


Contact: Karrey Britt, Communications Specialist, kbritt@dgcoks.gov

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