City leaders to further discuss results of homeless needs study as part of strategic plan
photo by: City of Lawrence
The City of Lawrence will be digging deeper into the findings of a recently completed study on homelessness and incorporating some of the issues raised into efforts related to its strategic plan.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received 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 included demographics of those experiencing homelessness and deficiencies in local support.
Commissioner Amber Sellers said the report raised concerns for her, and that she thought it dovetailed well with the city’s efforts and reporting surrounding its strategic plan goal to create “strong and welcoming neighborhoods.” Sellers said she hoped some of the study’s findings would be part of future progress reports related to the goal, and that the commission could discuss the study further at that time.
Some of the key findings included that Douglas County has more women experiencing homelessness than the national average and Black and Indigenous people experience homelessness at significantly higher rates. The study also found that the community needs more affordable housing, property owners willing to accept rental assistance, and increased collaboration between service providers, including a way to coordinate services for those experiencing homelessness, among other findings.
Mayor Courtney Shipley asked city staff if it would be good to incorporate the study into the strategic plan goal, and Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard said she thought it was. Stoddard said the study could be included in the next progress report on the strong and welcoming neighborhoods goal and additional discussion could be had at that time. Stoddard said she also thought it would give local agencies more time to digest the study’s findings.
Creating strong and welcoming neighborhoods is one of the five goals laid out in the city’s strategic plan. Metrics involved with that goal include the percent of households that are experiencing housing stress, defined as spending more than 30% of their income on housing, and the number of people experiencing homelessness in the community.