Douglas County and City of Lawrence seeking nearly $3 million in HUD funding for supportive housing project, team of street outreach workers

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

The west side of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 23, 2021.

More than $300 million in federal funding for fighting homelessness across the U.S. is up for grabs, and Douglas County and the City of Lawrence want about $3 million of it for supportive housing projects and a special team to work with homeless residents.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is going to award $322 million to help local governments address unsheltered and rural homelessness, and the deadline for the first step in applying for the funding — submitting a required letter of intent — was this week. In Lawrence and Douglas County, leaders have requested $2,959,200 of that money, and the Douglas County Commission will hear more about that request at its meeting Wednesday.

The majority of the request — $2,070,000 — is for three years of administration, rental assistance and supportive services for 25 to 30 studio and one-bedroom housing units for people experiencing a housing crisis. The remaining $889,200 would go toward funding a “Street Multi-Agency Outreach Response and Engagement” team for the City of Lawrence for three years. The team would consist of three members who would work with both unsheltered homeless people and those living in shelters, helping them connect with basic needs, physical and behavioral health care, vital documents and transitional and permanent housing.

So far, the city and county have submitted their letter of intent to HUD, describing the projects they want to undertake and whether they could support them over the long term. If the local governments were chosen to receive funding, they would be required to match 25% of it with their own funds. The permanent supportive housing project would take about $517,500 in matching funds, which would be paid for by Douglas County. The street outreach project would take $222,300 in matching funds, which would be paid for by the City of Lawrence.

In other business, the commission will:

• Hear about the findings of a study examining the racial breakdown of pedestrian and traffic stops in Douglas County. The study was commissioned by the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and the research team behind the study published a draft report of its findings earlier this month. Along with addressing the commission, the researchers will host a public meeting and panel discussion with law enforcement leaders at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.

• Consider approving two site plans — one for an electrical substation expansion at 1645 East 400 Road and the other for site improvements at Camp Bromelsick, a campground at 682 North 1400 Road — and a temporary business use permit request for outdoor vehicle storage at 1036 East 1000 Road.

Wednesday’s work session on the traffic stop study will start at 4 p.m., followed by the commission’s business meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. The meeting will also be available by Zoom. For more meeting information, visit the county’s website: dgcoks.org/commissionmeetings.

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