Respite housing proposal would aim to fill service gap for Douglas County men

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will hear a proposal on respite housing that would aim to fill a gap in services for men with mental illness or substance use disorders.

According to information provided in the commission’s agenda for its 4 p.m. work session, local behavioral health agencies have found an extreme shortage of short- and long-term housing options particularly for single men ages 18-35. That shortage leads to chronic homelessness and overuse of emergency services.

Through a pilot program, the nonprofit Artists Helping the Homeless would seek out a residential home with four or five bedrooms that could initially accommodate eight people, according to the agenda materials. Three full-time and two part-time peer support specialists would offer 24/7 client monitoring and transportation to medical, employment and court-ordered appointments.

Funding for the housing program, estimated at $350,000 to $400,000 annually, would help with food, utilities, medications and legal expenses, plus scholarship funds to provide access to school, job training and other recovery activities, according to the agenda. It would also include a case manager and program management costs. Those funds would be provided through existing budget authority in the county’s behavioral health projects budget, according to the agenda.

At their 5:30 p.m. regular meeting, commissioners will hear three informational presentations:

• A presentation on the South Lawrence Trafficway from Kansas Department of Transportation Project Manager Aaron Frits. The Journal-World reported this week that the Lawrence City Commission was set to hear the presentation Tuesday on the state’s efforts to widen or otherwise improve travel on the road, including the option of making the trafficway a toll road.

• A presentation on the Douglas County E-Community, which aims to boost local entrepreneurial efforts, from Jill Jolicoeur, assistant to the county administrator.

• The Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce annual update, from Jeannette Blackmar, director of the chamber.

Commissioners will meet at 4 and 5:30 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Complete agenda materials are available via


April 17, 2019: ‘I need people to thrive’: Douglas County Commission hears about respite housing initiative

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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