Lawrence, KS – According to the city officials, the black and grey tents are not for health care or COVID-19 testing. The city of Lawrence is setting up 20 tents in a park to house people who are homeless
Douglas County Commissioner, Patrick Kelly, said:
“If we put our homeless population into the shelter, there’s a higher chance that they’ll get the virus and then they’ll spread it across the community.”
Federal coronavirus tax dollars are paying for the camp. The camp marks but one example of the creative ways communities are using the federal money. They scrambled to spend the cash before a deadline at the end of December, but Congress is now giving them more time. Restrictions also mean that money can’t go to some of the top priorities in local budgets.
In a deal just days before the deadline, congressional leaders decided to give state and local governments an extra year to spend the money as part of a larger economic stimulus plan.
The state allocated the $1 billion in three rounds, with plans to have the rest spent by the deadline later this month. Of that, $400 million was sent to local governments to spend on the particular needs in those communities.
The camp in Lawrence might seem unconventional, but much of the $25 million allocated to Douglas County is going to things more obviously tied to the pandemic. Testing, protective equipment and financial help for local businesses, including music clubs. Douglas County isn’t the only place getting creative with spending the $1 billion. A group of counties used money to upgrade their emergency response radio system.