County Commission to receive conceptual plans for mental health crisis intervention center, housing

The Douglas County Commission meets in the historic courtroom on the second floor of the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.

The county coordinator of mental health initiatives will present to the Douglas County Commission a conceptual plan for what is now envisioned as a mental health campus.

The coordinator, Bob Tryanski, along with representatives from various county agencies, will share the presentation at a 6 p.m. work session Wednesday. The presentation will cover conceptual plans for a mental health crisis intervention center and housing for those with mental illness, said County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, who has served as the County Commission point person on mental health initiatives. The crisis center and housing units are to be built on a campus north of West Second Street between Alabama and Maine streets.

Thellman said the presentation will reflect how planning for the crisis center and the delivery of mental health services have changed in the past year as the county and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center started working with the hospital and other agencies on how best to address mental health issues. The group effort resulted in a design for a smaller crisis intervention center, the proposed expansion of services and the realization of the critical role of housing in crisis recovery, she said.

“The focus now is not only on crisis, but what we can do before and after crisis to improve mental health services,” she said. “We won’t have a lot of numbers, but we want to clarify what all these partners want to do together, which was more than was ever imagined in the beginning. The crisis center is now significantly smaller, but the same core services will be provided. Because the building is scaled down for the right size for our community, there are more dollars available for services in the community.”

The campus will address three tiers of housing needs, Thellman said. The crisis center will provide beds for those in crisis, a proposed transitional home will provide housing of up to nine months for those leaving the center, and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority will provide 10 apartments for long-term occupancy, she said.

The city of Lawrence Affordable Housing Advisory Board recommended Monday that nearly $500,000 in funding be made available for the proposed transitional home, Thellman said.

Shannon Oury, executive director of the Housing Authority, shared a proposal with the County Commission in September to use $2 million in federal money that the authority had saved to build the 10 long-term housing units on the Second Street campus.

In other county business, Jan Shupert-Arick, Douglas County Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant Program coordinator, will present to commissioners the schedule for the 2018 Douglas County Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant Program at the commission’s 4 p.m. meeting. The grant application deadline is March 9.

The Douglas County Commission meets Wednesdays at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. View a complete agenda at