Lawrence Community Shelter seeks input from government, nonprofit partners on needed service cuts
photo by: Mike Yoder
The Lawrence Community Shelter will have to cut services to stay within its budget and is looking to its government and nonprofit partners to help determine how that should be done, shelter board members told community leaders Wednesday.
At a joint meeting of the Douglas County Commission, Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board, Jackie Counts, presidents of the Lawrence Community Shelter Board, said the shelter, which serves about 150 people a year, will receive $115,000 in funding from the county, $195,000 from the city, $75,000 from Douglas County United Way and $97,000 in federal grants in 2019. However, the shelter’s current proposed budget for 2019 would require $1.156 million to fully fund, she said.
John Magnuson, shelter board treasurer, said the shelter is used to closing large gaps in funding using private sources. He said the board regularly depends on fundraising efforts and private grants to stay open. But in recent years, he said, the shelter lost a donor who gave $100,000 annually, and private grants that help pay operating costs have been harder to secure.
Counts said the shelter board would remain aggressive in pursuing grants, and Magnuson said he anticipated the shelter’s fundraising efforts would help out. Nonetheless, the two shelter board members agreed the current funding model was not sustainable.
“The board is exploring options and will adopt a budget and service plan that reflect expected revenue,” Counts said.
One revenue option was to lease space within the shelter and its grounds, Counts said. The shelter also was looking to cut services to those it could provide with the stable core budget of city and county funding plus government grants, she said.
That would have consequences in the community, Counts said, as any reduction in the number of people the shelter served would increase the burden on other agencies and providers for services. As an example, she said, the shelter provides housing for an average of four people a day who would otherwise be in the county jail, which saves the county $216,000 a year.
Counts said the shelter board was requesting the creation of a task force with representatives of the city, county, Lawrence school district and other partner agencies to further discuss the shelter’s services, funding and role in the community. There were no objections to the task force proposal at the joint meeting, although none of the bodies present took action to appoint members.