LAWRENCE, Kan. — A temporary homeless camp set up by the city of Lawrence may not be as temporary as once expected.
News of the potentially shifting timeline comes the same week as the death of a woman living at that camp just north of the Kansas River.
People living at this campsite describe the woman who died as being in her early 50s, from Lawrence, and long-living outside. Her friends said they believe she was detoxing, but officials have not released a cause of death yet.
“When I walked by at 11 in the morning [Monday], I hollered at her to say good morning, and I didn’t get a response. I just assumed she was sleeping,” said Jennifer Adams, who lives at the camp.
“She was very strong-willed, very strong, ornery. I mean, she had a hell of a sense of humor. And anything orange — she loved the color orange,” she said.
Using that color, a tribute is growing on the recently installed fence, which is intended for camp control.
On Dec. 1 the city of Lawrence will re-evaluate this temporary support site as the indoor winter emergency shelter opens. That shelter will have 75 beds. Sixty people stay at the North Lawrence campsite right now.
But according to a presentation, which the city shared in response to questions, the outdoor campsite will likely have to stay open because of the number of people who may need winter services.
“So as we just previously mentioned, we were at 148. That was when we originally made this presentation. I would say that we are probably now closer to about that 160,” said Jenn Wolsey, homeless program coordinator for Lawrence.
“Though this area is temporary, we may have to continue to manage and operate it through the winter season as a place for someone to go,” she said during a September presentation.
According to that presentation, the long-term goal for shutting down the campsite is March 12, but even that is viewed as more of a floating date than a hard deadline.
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