LAWRENCE, Kan. — The city of Lawrence continues to work toward sustainable housing initiatives to help address the community’s population that find itself houseless.

The 2022 Douglas County Homeless Needs Assessment identified several areas that need to be addressed to end homelessness, according to leaders.

Camping and Emergency Shelter

The city is now responsible for sanctuary camping and emergency shelter. Both issues were mentioned in the needs assessment.

The city identifies sanctuary camping as camp sites that allow people who do not have a fixed shelter to live. They are allowed to camp in tents, or other more temporary housing.

Sanctuary camping is allowed at the city’s temporary support site in North Lawrence. The city provides each person using the site with the following:

  • Tent
  • Personal storage container
  • Safe drinking water
  • Portable toilets

Emergency shelter is a place to temporarily stay overnight. The shelter is scheduled to be open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day from December 1, 2022, through March 12, 2023. The building is located at 115 W 11th St., and can house up to 75 people a night.

Established agencies throughout the city and county are in charge of other social services at both the emergency shelter and sanctuary camping sites.

The city said it is working to increase resources and staff at both sites.

Pallet Shelter Village

This spring, Lawrence leaders plan to begin building a pallet shelter village that will include a longer-term camping site.

The idea is to build dozens of shelter homes out of pallets to provide a transition to permanent housing.

The modular homes include heating and cooling. They are set up to include restrooms, laundry, shower and gathering space for a group of people to use.

The city hopes to have the pallet village up and running by June.

Affordable Housing

The city hopes pallet homes will not need to be used forever.

Leaders say it is a step toward affordable housing for many people who rely on camping or emergency shelter.

The county expects to have nearly 900 affordable housing units available in the next 5 years. That is in addition to what is available now.