City survey asks residents to rank priorities for $1.6M in affordable housing, homelessness spending
photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World
The City of Lawrence has been awarded $1.6 million in federal funds to reduce homelessness and increase the availability of affordable housing, and is conducting a community survey to gather feedback on how to spend the funds.
The city is receiving the $1.6 million from the HOME Investment Partnership American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP) Program, according to a news release. The survey asks residents about how the funds should be spent and what they see as the most needed services in the community.
Specifically, one question asks residents to rank a list of potential uses for HOME-ARP funding to address homelessness and the city’s lack of affordable housing. The four options are as follows:
• Housing vouchers for low- to moderate-income individuals (Example: a family of three with a household income of $42,550 or less).
• Additional supportive services for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness (Examples of supportive services include mental health counseling, transportation, legal, financial, employment, etc.).
• Construction of new affordable rental housing units for low- to moderate-income individuals (Example: a family of three with a household income of $68,050 or less).
• Additional emergency shelter units for those experiencing homelessness (no cost for individuals to use these units for a limited period of time).
Another question states that HOME-ARP funds can be used for housing solutions targeted at lower-income individuals and families that range from short-term emergency shelters to longer-term permanent housing options, and asks residents about what they think is the single greatest need for housing in the community. The three options are as follows:
• Noncongregate emergency shelters (short-term accommodations for individuals currently experiencing homelessness).
• Transitional housing with supportive services (temporary housing for a period of 1-2 years with supportive services to help individuals and families transition to permanent housing).
• Affordable rental housing units (long-term permanent housing for low income individuals and families).
Residents are also asked what they believe is the most needed service for individuals at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. Respondents can write in an answer or select from five options: transportation services (either public or personal vehicles); mental health services; legal services; financial counseling services; and employment related services. The survey also includes a space for residents to provide any other information or feedback that would help the city identify projects and services for the new federal funding.
The survey can be completed through Thursday, Feb. 2, on the city’s website at lawrenceks.org/community-engagement/home-arp. There will also be a 15-day public comment period starting Feb. 10. Public comments can be submitted in writing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by mailing the City of Lawrence, Housing Initiatives Division, PO Box 708, Lawrence KS 66044.
City staff will present the survey findings and draft allocation plan at the Affordable Housing Advisory Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 13. The funding allocation plan will be submitted to the City Commission for review at an upcoming meeting in March.
The HOME-ARP funding is in addition to previous funding the city received from the American Rescue Plan and other pandemic relief. The city has used that money to help support millions in employee raises and other initiatives, and in December, the City Commission allocated more than $8 million toward various efforts related to homelessness, affordable housing and other community social service projects. Allocations included $4.5 million to create a site with modular homes for people experiencing homelessness and $1.81 million to fully fund two affordable housing projects that received partial awards from the city’s affordable housing trust fund and provide funding for two Tenants to Homeowners projects.