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
[email protected]
(360) 818-4373