Finding solutions was the goal Monday night at the Lawrence Public Library for advocates, social service providers and community members in the fourth and final public forum in a series on mental illness and homelessness.
The forums, organized by the Coalition for Homeless Concerns and the Recovery and Hope Network, began in June as a way to improve services for those in Lawrence struggling with mental illness and homelessness.
While each public forum focused on a different topic, Steve Ozark, forum coordinator, said that one main theme emerged from the forums.
“Housing is the No. 1 need in our community. Permanent supportive housing, emergency housing and transitional housing,” Ozark said. “If someone’s experiencing mental health issues (and) they’re homeless ... it’s very difficult to administer services.”
At the event Monday, participants broke into smaller work sessions to discuss solutions in areas such as housing, crisis intervention and volunteerism.
Ozark said that in order to find solutions, concerned members of the community need to become involved in the issues.
Lawrence resident Bob Beebe, 58, said that he attended Monday night’s forum to learn about how he can help those suffering from homelessness and mental illness.
“Just seeing what I can do to put back into my community,” he said, adding that as a Lawrence resident for his entire life, he feels a strong connection to the community.
“I’ve got to see where it’s going,” Beebe said.
Ozark said that the information gathered at the forums, including resources currently available in Lawrence, will be posted on the Lawrence Community Interfaith Initiative’s Web site at interfaithinitiative.org.