Firm to share report, recommendations for Lawrence Community Shelter at Douglas County Commission meeting

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence Community Shelter, 3655 E. 25th St.

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will hear from a firm contracted to help the Lawrence Community Shelter with management, budgeting and other such concerns.

Among other items noted in the firm’s report, it suggests the shelter change its mission statement to focus exclusively on providing emergency shelter for individuals and families facing homelessness. Currently, its mission includes providing programs to set its clients “on a path to a positive future,” according to materials in the commission’s meeting agenda.

The shelter has faced financial issues in recent years, and in December, its fourth executive director since May 2014 announced her plans to resign, the Journal-World has reported.

At its Feb. 6 meeting, the County Commission approved paying half the cost — $15,150 — toward a contract for SS&C Solutions Inc. to assess operations and financial conditions of the shelter, address its budget shortfalls and develop a strategic plan for short- and long-term financial sustainability, the Journal-World reported. The city of Lawrence contributed the same amount toward the contract.

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Dec. 12, 2018: Lawrence homeless shelter ‘on the ropes’ financially; city and county to discuss increasing funding

During their 4 p.m. Wednesday work session, commissioners will hear some results of the analysis from Erika Dvorske, the firm’s chief operating officer.

The firm’s report contains additional recommendations, such as adopting key program metrics that align with national trends for emergency shelters, separating board and staff roles and responsibilities with a “structure for accountability,” and creating a specific staff framework for all shifts.

“From our perspective, it is critical, at this stage, that pressure be placed on the LCS leadership to make significant changes and further develop their ability to address the systemic problems that have come with a lack of reliable infrastructure within the organization over time,” the report from Dvorske and Chris Kohart, manager of SS&C Solutions Inc., says.

In an accompanying memo to the commission, Jill Jolicoeur, assistant to the county administrator, wrote that the shelter is asking the county and the city of Lawrence to more than double their financial support for the next two fiscal years. In fiscal year 2018, the shelter received $115,000 from Douglas County. It is requesting an additional $148,000 from the county in FY 2019 and $181,000 in FY 2020, for totals of $263,000 and $296,000, respectively. That represents a 128.7% increase from 2018 to 2019, and a subsequent 12.5% increase from FY 2019 to FY 2020.

From the city, the shelter is requesting a total of $452,000 for FY 2019, according to the memo. That would be an increase of 126% over its current funding of $200,000.

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In other business at their 5:30 p.m. regular meeting, commissioners will consider a one-year, $20,000 contract with a Topeka firm that would help the county with government relations in the areas of behavioral health and juvenile services.

The firm, Little Government Relations LLC, would advocate for the county with various state agencies, keep commissioners informed of state-level proceedings and coordinate meetings with state leaders, among other services listed in a contract in the meeting agenda.

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

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