The Community Drop-In Center plans to expand its services for people who are homeless and extend its hours at a new site at 944 Kentucky.
The Community Drop-In Center, a daytime service center for people who are homeless, has cleared the first hurdle in moving to a new location in the Oread Neighborhood.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission agreed Wednesday to recommend the city approve a "use permitted upon review" so the center can relocate to an office building at 944 Kentucky.
Several conditions were attached, including one limiting the center's hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and another requiring it to have a separate entrance so people who use the Drop-In Center will not enter through the same door that provides access to the other businesses in the building.
Shannon Tauscher, chair of the center's board, agreed to accept those conditions, although she would have preferred more flexible operating hours.
If the Lawrence City Commission agrees with the proposal, Tauscher said, the center could be open at the new site in January.
For the past three years, the center has operated out of the Oread Friends Meeting House at 11th and Oregon.
Tauscher said the center offers a daytime place where people who are homeless can go to get warm, have coffee or a snack, and receive counseling, job information or referrals for other kinds of social services.
Currently, the center is staffed by volunteers, and it is only open about six hours a week, Tauscher said. But thanks to a $15,000 grant from the city's Community Development Block Grant program, she said the center now can afford to rent a larger space, hire a part-time staff person, expand some of its services and extend its schedule to 20 hours a week.
The new site is across the street from the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, or LINK, a meal site for people who are homeless that operates out of the First Christian Church at 1000 Kentucky.
Drop-In Center officials wanted the hours to be more flexible, noting that in the winter, the Salvation Army's shelter does not open until 9 p.m. If the center is forced to close at 5 p.m., she said, it leaves those people with no place to go for four hours.
Not everyone was pleased with the idea of having the Drop-In Center move into the building on Kentucky.
Dr. Lawrence Mayer, a dentist whose office is in the same building, objected to the idea, saying he feared some of his patients would not want to walk through a lobby or common hallway full of people who are homeless.
Planning commissioners tried to address that concern by requiring the center to have a separate entrance and to be sealed off from the other common areas of the building, but Mayer said he doubted it was possible to install a handicapped-accessible ramp and entrance for the area that the Drop-In Center hopes to occupy.
The Planning Commission voted 7-1 to recommend that the city commission grant the "use permitted upon review," subject to the list of conditions. Commissioner Jere McElhaney voted against the motion, citing concerns about its impact on neighbors like Mayer.
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