ENA Response to People’s House Shelter Proposal

Interfaith Works
Thurston County Home Consortium
Olympia City Council
Coalition of Neighborhood Associations
Thurston County Commissioners
The Olympian Editorial Board

To Those Concerned,

The Eastside Neighborhood Association (ENA) Board was deeply concerned to first learn about the proposed location for a “low barrier” shelter at 1011 10th Avenue from an article in The Olympian on Wednesday, August 7th.

The Eastside Neighborhood has long been a supportive neighbor to a variety of social service programs – Bread & Roses, Sidewalk, the Salvation Army (two facilities, on 5th and 4th Avenues), First Baptist Sunday Dinners, several transitional and recovery facilities and soon the Family Support Center in the Smith Building. Additionally, Madison Elementary is both a Title 1 school and host to the “Welcome Room” for children in poverty. Our neighborhood hosts a larger number of social services for this population. We’re incredibly proud to host all these services but with the introduction of this new service, we hope the city will consider more fairly distributing these services citywide.

As described, this shelter will serve a high-risk population that we strongly feel is incompatible with it’s proximity to our neighborhood. The location is less than 100 yards from St. Michael’s Elementary and Pre-School, 4 blocks away from Avanti High School and Madison Elementary, and directly adjacent to our residential neighborhood.

The “low barrier” aspects are of special concern to to us. What safeguards will the supporting agencies have to protect nearby residents, workers, and especially children? If the program managers are going to eliminate safeguards at the client level, what safeguards and procedures will they introduce to compensate for that protection?

As a neighborhood of young working families, retirees and everyone in-between, we feel that the identified location for the shelter is based not on where it would be best located but where business interests feel it would be the least objectionable. We would like to see the program placed where it can best serve the population it’s designed to serve and integrate well with the neighborhood it’s placed within.

The ENA suggests the city present a comprehensive strategy for siting homeless shelters in Olympia. It feels as if we are considering each new shelter independently rather than looking at the system and services as a whole. If we do have a plan, how does it fit the demographics of our homeless population? A detailed city map of shelters, problem areas and procedures for placement of new proposed shelters need to be published and discussed at public meetings to allow for an equitable distribution of these services across Olympia and perhaps Thurston County as a whole.

We urge Interfaith Works and the Olympia City Council to find a new location for this high risk shelter, or rethink the concept altogether. We also hope that you will actively present your plans to the affected neighborhood associations in the future in order to secure our support and engagement in the process.

We look forward to your response,

Eastside Neighborhood Association Board of Directors & Concerned Neighborhood Residents

The Eastside Neighborhood Association represents more than 1100 residences bordered by Eastside Street, 4th Avenue, Chambers Street and I-5.

Luke Bowerman, President
Eastside Neighborhood Association
(360) 818-4373

2 Responses to “ENA Response to People’s House Shelter Proposal”

  1. Jim & Margaret Hutchinson

    As a business person who would be directly impacted by the placement of this “low-barrier” facility, I am deeply concerned about it’s impact on our neighborhood. Our business is located within 50 feet of the proposed facility. Even without the proposed facility, our business has experienced many negative events from “squatters” around our building. Can you imagine coming to work as a female employee and being accosted by people sleeping in our breezeway?. What about walking in human excrement while taking garbage out to our dumpster? What about breakins? What about garbage left that completely filled a 1 1/2 yard dumpster?

    I feel that the City of Olympia, and possibly the ODA, may be promoting siting of this facility in our neighborhood because of the few number of businesses in the vicinity. This is not an instance of NIMBY. This simply is not an appropriate location for this facility.

    We look forward to working with the Eastside Neighborhood Association in challenging the siting of this shelter.

    Margaret Hutchinson
    Jim Hutchinson, DDS

  2. Rachel Hollister

    The most vulnerable people in our community – those without a home, without families, without mental or physical health care – are already here. They struggle to make it through each day without knowing where they will sleep tonight, where they will find enough money to eat today, without knowing where they can even sit and rest without being perceived as a threat by others. You see them sleeping in doorways, walking the streets, or roaming in parks because they have nowhere else to go. The People’s House will finally give them a place to go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    The People’s House will give them a clean bathroom to visit, a safe spot to drop their bags for a couple hours, a friendly face to chat with, and mental health professionals to counsel with. The People’s House will care for those most uncared for in our community. It is the solution to the issues you’ve listed above.

    The homeless are already here in Olympia, on the Eastside, Downtown, and on the Westside. The homeless already live here. Let’s give them a place to call home for a few hours.

    As an Eastside Neighborhood Resident, I commend the community-wide effort to meet the needs of its most challenging members. I would be honored to have the People’s House In My Backyard.

    Rachel Hollister


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