Campers who remain at North Lawrence site after closing date will be trespassed, but city doesn’t expect that to happen

photo by: Shawn Valverde/Journal-World

Tents at homeless camps are pictured in North Lawrence behind Johnny’s Tavern on Monday, March 11, 2024.

Campers who remain at the homeless campsite by the Kansas River in North Lawrence will be trespassed if they stay after the closing date of Tuesday, the City of Lawrence said in a news release Friday afternoon.

The city does not expect trespassing citations to be given, however, as the City’s Homeless Solutions Division is finalizing “next steps into shelter” for the remaining people at the camp.

With the opening last month of The Village, a community of Pallet shelters at 256 N. Michigan St., the division has been working to help individuals relocate.

“There were 65 people staying in camps in the North Lawrence Commercial District in March when we started preparing for camp closure. Since that time, approximately 55 individuals have exited street homelessness and our team is finalizing next steps into shelter for approximately 10 more people,” the city’s release said.

As the Journal-World has reported, on Tuesday the city plans to close the campsite behind Johnny’s Tavern, removing electricity, water, Wi-Fi and other resources.

“If anyone remains camping in the North Lawrence Commercial District after their camps have been closed, they will be trespassed; however, we are actively working with these individuals and feel that trespassing will not be necessary,” the release said. “Each person faces unique circumstances and may need to be in the area up until the camp closure deadline. We are sensitive and understanding of this and will do our best to handle this situation compassionately while still expecting compliance with the laws that apply to all residents.”

Approximately 40 individuals are at The Village right now, with some moving out soon because they have already secured housing, the release said. Some of those empty units will be filled by Monday with eligible individuals who are leaving the camps in the North Lawrence Commercial District.

“With the addition of new sheltering options like The Village, we now have capacity to shelter up to 175 individuals nightly in our community,” the release said, noting that more emergency shelter is needed, including for families with children.


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