Leaders of what will soon become the city’s only major overnight homeless shelter say they are closer to being able to move into a new building.
“I can say that if we get a building, it’s going to be shovel-ready, if you will. Any building will need some renovations,” said Loring Henderson, the shelter’s executive director.
Henderson did not identify the possible new site Monday, but he did secure support from the Douglas County Commission in an effort to try to obtain a $600,000 congressional appropriations request to fund renovations should the shelter get a new building.
The shelter’s leaders also are starting a $3 million fundraising effort to try to finance the move. Henderson has looked for a new site to expand for several years, and the shelter’s leaders have met resistance and concern from some neighbors, especially over a plan last year to move to an industrial building near 13th and Oregon streets.
The county, city and Community Coalition on Homelessness have supported the shelter’s effort to secure federal funding. The shelter also put in a request through Sen. Sam Brownback’s office last year, but this time Henderson has secured support from U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore’s office as well.
The shelter will become the city’s main overnight shelter after May 1 because The Salvation Army has announced plans to close its overnight shelter in May and shift to an operation that places homeless families or individuals into apartments.
Henderson said The Salvation Army currently serves 42 people overnight, and the Lawrence Community Shelter serves 31. He is also looking for a temporary site before May to pick up demand when The Salvation Army’s overnight shelter closes.
The temporary site would house people from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and volunteers would serve a meal each night, Henderson said.
“It’s a difficult situation with lots of things happening at the same time,” he said. “It’s difficult for us. It’s difficult for the community at large to try to make choices to keep us going and to meet the need.”