Lawrence leaders to learn more about city’s new Homeless Response Team

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on Jan. 31, 2023.

This week, the Lawrence City Commission is set to learn more about the partners that will make up the city’s new Homeless Response Team.

At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners will hear more about the team from Misty Bosch-Hastings, the city’s Director of Homeless Solutions. As the Journal-World has reported, Bosch-Hastings has been working to launch a multidisciplinary homeless outreach team for a while now, aiming to leverage the city’s existing partnerships with local providers to provide more focused wrap-around services for unsheltered homeless individuals.

In total, the team is set to include eight partners. One of them is the City of Lawrence, which is listed as the lead outreach coordinator and specialist for federal SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) benefits. The Lawrence Police Department is the other partner directly associated with the city and will be represented by a “community engagement officer.”

Others on the list are organizations like Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and the DARE Center, which are listed as “outreach experts” with additional roles in addressing mental health and opioid education and harm reduction. The other four partners on the team are Artists Helping the Homeless, which will provide peer support; Mirror Inc., which will serve as a substance use disorder outreach clinician; the Lawrence Community Shelter, which will provide emergency shelter and housing navigation; and an animal welfare outreach specialist with the Lawrence Humane Society.

Some of those partnerships are achieved through existing relationships, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. LCS, Artists Helping the Homeless and the Humane Society all have existing agreements with the city or Douglas County.

Others, however, will need agreements with the city in order to finalize development of the Homeless Outreach Team. On Tuesday, the City Commission will be asked to approve agreements with Bert Nash for $412,098 and Mirror Inc. for $37,500. Both allocations would come from the city’s Special Alcohol Fund, where funds specific to covering the total roughly $450,000 expenditure were included in the city’s 2024 budget.

The agenda notes that the DARE Center also will need an agreement with the city, using opioid settlement funds, but it doesn’t appear to be ready for consideration this week. Instead, a spending plan for the funds will be presented to commissioners for their consideration at a future meeting.

In other business, commissioners will:

* Consider adopting Resolution No. 7539, which would temporarily suspend the enforcement of the city’s Land Development Code and sections of the building and fire codes that may be inconsistent with the use of land at The Village, 256 N. Michigan St.

The city already adopted a resolution to the same end last year, since the city’s codes don’t explicitly address the Pallet cabins currently in use at the community of 64-square-foot shelters for people experiencing homelessness and didn’t provide a clear path for the project to move forward at the time.

The resolution from last year only came with a one-year term, however. The resolution up for consideration Tuesday would enact the same provisions but with a three-year term, expiring May 31, 2027.

* Receive an update on the implementation of recommendations from the city’s Community Police Oversight Work Group and consider adopting Ordinance No. 10046, which would reflect those recommendations in the city’s code.

As the Journal-World reported, this item originally appeared on the agenda for last week’s City Commission meeting but was deferred after the meeting ran late. The recommendations from the work group pertain to the scope of work of the Community Police Review Board, the group responsible for reviewing complaints against police.

* Receive a presentation on “Adapt Douglas County: A Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.”

Per Tuesday’s agenda, several city departments and advisory boards have been collaborating with Douglas County to develop the plan to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Plan 2040, the city and county’s joint comprehensive plan, calls for the county to adopt a climate change adaptation and mitigation plan.

The City Commission isn’t being asked to take any action to adopt the plan Tuesday, according to the meeting agenda. Instead, it’ll be brought back for consideration at a future meeting.

* As part of a work session, receive an update on the city’s partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab.

As the Journal-World reported, the city and county were selected to participate in the Government Performance Lab last year. The partnership is focused on developing alternative responses to 911 emergency calls.

The City Commission doesn’t take any action on work session items.

The City Commission will convene at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., and immediately enter a 30-minute executive session to discuss the possibility of acquiring real property in the city. A live stream of the meeting can be viewed via Zoom or the city’s YouTube channel.


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