Douglas County nonprofit seeks funding to build 8 to 10 housing units for people recovering from substance abuse

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Douglas County Commissioners Karen Willey and Patrick Kelly listen to county staff during the commission's meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.

Lawrence nonprofit DCCCA, which provides a number of social and community safety net services, wants to build as many as 10 transitional housing units for folks recovering from substance abuse, and it’s looking for the funding to pull off the project.

The Douglas County Commission learned more about what that project would entail during a work session on Wednesday afternoon. The nonprofit’s CEO, Lori Alvarado, told commissioners that DCCCA is hoping to add four to five duplex-style residences — eight to 10 units in total, each with two bedrooms and two bathrooms — on the nonprofit’s First Step at Lake View residential drug and alcohol treatment campus.

Though First Step is a women’s campus, Alvarado said the new transitional housing units wouldn’t necessarily be limited to only women. She said it’s likely, though, that DCCCA will opt to prioritize housing women with children in the new units.

“The idea there is (there’d be rooms) for women and children, so opportunity for a family, and also opportunity for perhaps two women who are in recovery to live in a unit together,” Alvarado said.

Those folks would eventually transition to more permanent housing elsewhere in the community, Alvarado said, but before then would be required to take part in continuous programming designed to help them remain sober while living in one of the new units.

DCCCA originally submitted an $800,000 request toward the total cost of building 10 transitional housing units for women in recovery from substance abuse during the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding allocation process in June. But county commissioners didn’t allocate any ARPA funds to the project because they thought it might be suited for funding via the county’s quarter-cent behavioral health sales tax instead.

The commission doesn’t take any action at work sessions, and it’s also not entirely clear when the county might discuss contributing funding to DCCCA’s project with a formal decision on the table. County staff inferred it might be a conversation during the county’s 2024 budget process.

Alvarado said that for now, DCCCA is planning to look toward public funding sources such as the City of Lawrence and the county, and also toward national foundations that contribute funding toward projects like this one. The nonprofit also soft-launched its own capital campaign in September; that will continue, and Alvarado said DCCCA will contribute some of its own dollars to the project.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a conditional use permit for event center or public assembly use at 1558 North 600 Road in unincorporated Douglas County. The structure that will be used as an event center is a converted barn located on a property about 4 miles north of Baldwin City. Commissioners approved the permit, eliminating a condition that limited the hours during which alcohol can be served at events and adding general hours of operation for the facility.

• Authorized county staff to negotiate a $73,250 professional design services contract with Lawrence-based architectural design firm TreanorHL for projects reviewing and updating the Douglas County master plan and remodeling the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.