Lawrence City Commission to review final report of homeless needs study
photo by: Mike Yoder
City leaders will soon receive the final report from a study that examined homelessness in the area, including demographics of those experiencing homelessness and deficiencies in local support.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive the 2022 Douglas County Homelessness Needs Assessment final report. Douglas County commissioned the study, which included an assessment of the systemwide conditions related to homelessness and what is needed for the county and city to attain their goal of ending chronic homelessness.
The key findings of the study are as follows, according to the executive summary.
• There are racial disparities regarding those experiencing homelessness in Douglas County, with Black and Indigenous people experiencing homelessness at significantly higher rates. These disparities warrant further attention.
• The gender distribution of people experiencing homelessness is different than the national average, with about 51% those in Douglas County identifying as female compared to the national average of around 39%. Most female participants in the study described domestic violence as a primary catalyst for homelessness.
• There is not enough affordable housing for everyone who needs it and not enough property owners willing to accept vouchers and other forms of rental assistance. More affordable housing and engagement with property owners is needed.
• There are few options for permanent supportive housing units in Douglas County, which is necessary to address the needs of individuals who experience chronic homelessness.
•Study participants frequently described a lack of engagement in problem-solving. Frequent and structured engagement is needed between individuals who have experienced homelessness, community leaders and service providers.
•Continued and increased collaboration across service providers is needed, including a way to coordinate services for those experiencing homelessness.
•Current information about those experiencing homelessness fails to identify individuals who do not meet the strict U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development federal definition of homelessness, including many families. A complete picture of the population experiencing homelessness is needed.
The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.