Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday approved an unbudgeted $100,000 worth of funding to the Lawrence Community Shelter after hearing the homeless shelter was in a “crisis” situation.
Joe Baker, treasurer of the shelter’s board, told commissioners that without the $100,000 in city funding, the shelter likely would be broke for an extended period of time in April before receiving its next round of grant funding.
“Honestly, I’m not sure how the shelter has survived with the revenue stream it has had,” said Baker.
City commissioners approved the $100,000 in funding on a 4-1 vote but did not make any commitment to provide funding for future years. Commissioners agreed to take the money out of a $300,000 reserve account that is funded by proceeds from the city’s share of the liquor drink tax.
Mayor Aron Cromwell also told the shelter board that he would be more interested in providing future city funding if it were structured in the form of a challenge grant where the public would have to make a certain amount of pledges before the city provided funding.
The shelter successfully raised $3.1 million to buy and renovate a building near the Douglas County Jail in eastern Lawrence to replace its current downtown shelter, which leaders have said is too small. Expenses related to finding that site have depleted the organization’s reserves, but shelter leaders said they plan to be aggressive in future fundraising to help with operational expenses.
City Commissioner Mike Amyx voted against the funding request, saying now was not the right time for the city to be making unbudgeted expenditures.
In other news, commissioners met for one hour in executive session to discuss the possible acquisition of real estate. After the session, commissioners directed city staff to craft a public statement to be released about the matter in the near future.
Multiple sources tell the Journal-World the city is working to craft a joint statement with Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self to support the idea of a major youth fieldhouse/recreation center in northwest Lawrence.
It has been speculated the project would be on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway, and would involve the city receiving a donation of 40 to 50 acres of property from a development group led by Steve and Duane Schwada.