Lawrence Community Shelter board authorizes shelter director to establish $500,000 line of credit

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Lawrence Community Shelter Executive Director James Chiselom speaks during the LCS Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, May 23, 2024.

The Lawrence Community Shelter Board of Directors on Thursday authorized the shelter’s director to establish a line of credit of up to half a million dollars on behalf of the shelter.

At Thursday’s board of directors meeting, board members voted 5-0 — with board members Christina Gentry and Elizabeth Keever absent — to allow LCS Executive Director James Chiselom to open a line of credit on behalf of the shelter not to exceed $500,000. Chiselom will have the ability to determine the terms and conditions of the line of credit in consultation with the board’s executive committee, and must ensure that they align with the “best interests and financial policies” of LCS.

It’s a move that board member Chuck Magerl characterized as a “crucial step” and a “backstop” to protect from potential funding shortfalls. Board President Charlie Bryan agreed.

“The (board’s) executive committee has been looking at our financial situation and recognized that if any payment we receive or don’t receive on time from the City of Lawrence, if that ever becomes a problem in terms of when it gets received, it could create quite a financial strain on us,” Bryan explained to board members. “Because in the last couple years, we’ve operated at a deficit, so there’s very little funding left in reserve to manage cash flow.”

Bryan told board members that the shelter property itself could be put up as security for the line of credit, which he described as likely the most straightforward option. But that would require a legal process since Bryan said the city has a “mortgage or lien” on the property.

Bryan said another potential asset the shelter could use as collateral to secure a credit line could be the shelter’s contract with the City of Lawrence.

“I feel like what this is going to do is establish essentially a third-party review of our financial situation, and I believe provide a lot of assurance to not only our board but our community that we’ve got things in order,” Bryan said.

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In other business, board members also discussed a recent incident that allegedly occurred at The Village, the community of 64-square-foot Pallet cabins for people experiencing homelessness at 256 N. Michigan St.

As the Journal-World reported, a man living at the Pallet shelter village allegedly refused to surrender his hatchet at the front office when returning to the site one night and then used it to smash an office window, causing an office worker to fear for his safety, according to an arrest affidavit compiled by Lawrence police.

Chiselom, when explaining the alleged incident to board members Thursday, said the man — Jesse Lee Green, 37, who was charged in Douglas County District Court with two felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with the incident — did not have a history of violent behavior.

“I was told he didn’t even have a history of that, but that does not negate what took place,” Chiselom said. “I was told that we didn’t deescalate well, but when somebody has an axe, I don’t know how anybody else would do it, but I wouldn’t ask anybody to go out there and confront somebody that’s cussing and saying ‘Take it from me — if you want it, come take it.'”

Chiselom reminded board members that law enforcement personnel and first responders have access to the gated entry at The Village, and he’s also worked out a protocol with the Lawrence Police Department for when officers should ask to be buzzed in to the community rather than let themselves in.

Green is one of about seven residents at The Village who Chiselom said have either voluntarily left or have been removed since the community opened two months ago. But at the same time, Chiselom also told board members Thursday that three other residents at The Village recently left their cabins because they’d secured permanent housing, and the shelter is working through a waitlist that’s about 50 individuals long.


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