Lawrence Community Shelter to address recent issues at town hall meeting

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence Community Shelter, 3655 E. 25th St.

Leaders of the Lawrence Community Shelter will hold a public meeting Wednesday to “identify the main issues” about which people are concerned, its director said.

The town hall-style meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Community Room of the Union Pacific Depot, 402 N. Second St., in North Lawrence.

Trey Meyer, executive director for the shelter, said there will be a short presentation about the shelter’s mission, followed by small-group discussions and a question-and-answer period.

“The town hall will have two goals: first, to let our community here in Lawrence and throughout Douglas County know about the services, programs, and resources we provide for individuals and families currently experiencing — or at risk of — homelessness,” Meyer wrote in a news release. “And second, to entertain, consider and respond to any and all questions or suggestions you may have.”

Sara Taliaferro and Amanda Schwegler will facilitate the meeting. Through the group Justice Matters, Taliaferro has advocated for more public funding toward affordable housing initiatives. Schwegler is the assistant director at Kansas University’s Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

The Lawrence Community Shelter moved in late 2012 from downtown Lawrence to 3701 Franklin Park Circle, next door to the Douglas County Jail. It was discovered this winter the shelter was not holding quarterly meetings with residents of the area — an agreement made when the shelter moved to its new location.

In February, the neighbors got a meeting with shelter officials to air allegations that shelter residents were trespassing, urinating and sleeping on their property.

The shelter has also faced some financial trouble that a city audit found to be caused by the move and a volatile fundraising environment.

Last summer, the shelter’s board requested — and received — $100,000 total in emergency funding from the city and Douglas County.

Before the money was requested, the Internal Revenue Service had informed the shelter that it owed $37,000 in back payroll taxes.

The audit warned the agency could face more financial problems this year.

For 2017, the Lawrence Community Shelter requested $335,100 — up from $199,600 it received for 2016. City Manager Tom Markus’ recommended 2017 budget calls for the shelter to receive the same amount it is this year.