Homelessness and Housing In Lawrence – Where We Are and Where We Go From Here
Public Forum Brings Experts and Public Together to Identify Problems and Solutions
Our community has come together to address many of the symptoms of homelessness and poverty. Yet the needs continue to grow. A public forum on Nov. 09, Homelessness and Housing – Where We Are and Where We Go From Here, will address the primary cause of homelessness – affordable, sustainable housing. We will learn about the challenges we face on a federal and local level. After hearing from the experts, break out sessions will offer the opportunity to find solutions and take action on this most important issue.
Keynote speaker Paul Boden became homeless at the age of 16 after the death of his mother. He began volunteering at a drop-in shelter in San Francisco in 1983 and eventually became a program director there. Mr. Boden has dedicated his life directing key organizations dedicated to alleviating homelessness and its causes. In 2005, he helped bring eight of the West Coast’s strongest organizations together to form The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). WRAP uses a unique structure that combines national policy work, movement building and street outreach to bridge local-national divisions that have hampered homeless advocacy for the last three decades. “Our affordable Housing Programs are dying,” says Mr. Boden. “They’re in crisis. And our homelessness crisis is growing.”
Shannon Oury is the Executive Director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority (LDCHA). The main objective of our LDCHA is to be good stewards of the housing programs it is charged with managing through sound management, maintenance preservation to the highest standards of the housing industry while providing responsible and responsive assistance to the people they serve. “The Transitional Housing Program provides an opportunity for homeless households to become stably housed – causing a positive ripple throughout our community including our schools, healthcare system, and social services,” says Ms. Oury. “The loss of significant funding for this incredibly successful program negatively impacts not only those families but our community.” Ms. Oury will provide information on the programs offered by LDCHA and describe the impact on transitional and permanent housing as a result of existing cuts and changes.
Loring Henderson is Executive Director of the Lawrence Community Shelter (LCS). The mission of the LCS is to provide safe shelter and comprehensive services that provide a path to a positive future for people experiencing homelessness or are at risk for homelessness. Mr. Henderson will speak to the gaps and successes that he has seen in his long career of helping people. “We wouldn’t know homelessness today as we do if it weren’t for mental illness on the streets,” says Mr. Henderson. “We didn’t fulfill our social contract when we closed the institutions to provide sufficient community services for the mentally ill.”
David Smith, Chairman of Sociology at Kansas University will moderate the event. Mr. Smith has been active in civic affairs for many years, centric on issues of low-wage work and organized an affordable housing conference. “Homelessness has been a bigger problem than ever since the economic crisis of 2008, and it shows no signs of letting up, says Mr. Smith. “Over 10 million Americans are jobless and over 20 million have incomes 50% or more below the federal poverty line. So we need bigger solutions than ever. We need a serious national conversation about how to solve this growing problem.”
Contact: Steve Ozark, (785)760-3143, OzarkTalent@gmail.com