LAWRENCE, Kan. — A metro shelter that helps hundreds out of homelessness is facing hard times itself.
Because of that, its leaders had to let go of several staff members and send some of its visitors back out to the streets to sleep.
The Lawrence Community Shelter is now serving fewer people because of funding problems. Inside, they’re asking for your help in providing “a path to a positive future.”
Through almost every door at the Lawrence Community Shelter, new Executive Director Renee Kuhl sees several things that need fixing.
“To really make people feel at home here, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Kuhl said.
There’s water damage in the library, everyday wear and tear in the cafeteria and gaping holes in the hallways.
“So we definitely have a huge need for the purposes of capital improvement costs,” Kuhl said.
But still, Kuhl is filled with hope and sees the potential.
“There’s a ton of things we could do with this space so it’s more organized,” Kuhl said, “so when kids have tutoring they can focused.”
The nonprofit moved into this commercial building five years ago. Kuhl said due to the amount of maintenance it requires, they had to lay-off about a third of their staff to cut costs.
In turn, the shelter was forced to reduce capacity by 50%. It went from 125 beds to 65, which is a big deal since it’s the only overnight emergency shelter for the homeless in Lawrence and Douglas County.
“Obviously really, really hard for our guests who had to leave who weren’t ready to go,” Kuhl said. “It’s a really difficult, just horribly difficult experience.”
Kuhl said guests were prioritized for bed space based on vulnerability, like age and disabilities. After that, they worked with community partners to refer folks to other shelters that would work to resolve their homelessness.
But the nonprofit couldn’t help everyone, and with winter right around the corner, it’s a concern.
“We just really need to get, you know, raise more funds so we can talk about raising capacity again,” Kuhl said.
If you would like to donate or volunteer, visit their website.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and need immediate overnight shelter in Lawrence, Kuhl said there may be room at the Willow Domestic Violence Center.