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Homelessness in Lawrence

Imagine a mid-December night, the sky is sleeting and it’s 10 degrees outside. You’re homeless, sitting on the street with nowhere to go and nowhere to turn. Hopeless, you think to yourself, “this is it.”

Sadly, this scenario is all too real for many in the Lawrence community. And while the majority of people don’t have to worry about immediately being in this situation, there are numerous people in our community living this reality that are under pressures of simply surviving.

Homelessness is among the most difficult things a person can face. There are many reasons one may find themselves homeless so it’s important to recognize every situation as unique since all it takes is a simple series of unfortunate events that could bring anyone to homelessness. 

In 2015, Douglas County reported 216 adults and 80 children as homeless. Of those reported, 19 lived in a car/building/bridge, 70 lived in transitional housing, and 207 lived in a shelter.

The Lawrence Community Shelter is an emergency location for people to stay and a resource for getting out of homelessness. The LCS was established in 2005 and aims to “provide a path to a better future” for the homeless of Douglas County. They also provide job training and assist people with the resources needed to find employment, housing, and care.

LCS is open and staffed 24 hours every day and takes people in at any time which is crucial since as the weather shifts and the cold begins to fill the streets, more people will find their way to the shelter.

However, the Lawrence Community Shelter’s efforts to reduce homelessness cannot be done without community support.  The shelter offers many opportunities for people to get involved. Executive Director, Trey Meyers, says that the best things for people to do (especially for those who may have issues dealing with the negative stigma attached to the homeless) is to hang out at the shelter, volunteer, and spend time with the people.

Homelessness is a pressure that only the toughest can face and that, unfortunately, is still a problem for many people around the country. But with the efforts of the Lawrence Community Shelter and support of the community, hopefully we will see levels of homelessness in the area drop in the near future.

Until then, we must keep in our thoughts those who have lost everything, as well as those who continue giving everything to make a difference.