The Community Drop-In Center (CDIC) of Lawrence was founded by a handful of Lawrence residents in 1995. During the prior year, the Lawrence Housing & Neighborhood Development Department estimated that almost 280 Lawrence residents were homeless. Because Lawrence is a college town, the rents have consistently increased, which has forced many families into the streets and the Salvation Army for shelter. Many strain to live in their own homes and take care of their families, as the minimum wage has not been considered livable.
The CDIC was founded because some of the residents believed the lack of services to those who were homeless was intolerable. During their first winter, the CDIC was housed in the Second Christian Church, and they continued to operate from various churches until the fall of 1996. In September of that year, Saunny Scott made a request that the DCIC operate temporarily for the Quaker Friends Meeting House. They stayed there for four years until moving to its current location. In 1999, CDIC saw that the need for varied types of services for the homeless was increasing. People needed help getting jobs, housing, drug and alcohol counseling, HIV/AIDS prevention, clothing, and other items. The need for a full-time staff and more volunteers was now a focus.
Funding was a concern, and it was essential that CDIC have a strong board of directors as well as a strong grant writer to ensure this. Both desires were fulfilled and helped the program grow stronger consistently with new and innovative ideas. The CDIC now serves about 40 people a warm breakfast, a place to shower, laundry facilities, a resting room, a reading room, a computer, and telephone services each day. They also daily help to pay for bus tickets, shoes, glasses, networking with employers for short and long term employment, drug and alcohol prevention, AIDS/HIV counseling, mental illness resources, housing applications, disability applications, and much more.
The most important aspect of the center is a safe, homelike atmosphere where people who are homeless or low-income can fulfill basic human needs with access to social services without judgment. The environment is a home setting with couches and furnishings, a dining room, laundry room, lockers, kitchen, pantry, two offices, the quiet room, a reading room, and a handicap-accessible bathroom.
CDIC receives funds from various sources. They received an Art Commission Grant as a result of their clients taking pictures for an exhibit at the Lawrence Public Library entitled “Through the Eyes of the Homeless, Down and Out in Lawrence, Kansas.” They receive funding from FEMA to help pay for food and a CDBG grant to pay for salaries, rent, utilities, and operating costs. They were also awarded an ESG grant to help pay for other essential services of the center, and all other expenses are managed through fundraising and private donors.