An update from ENA president Jody Suhrbier:
Hello again everyone,
I hope to have this be my last blanket email about the temporary changes taking place at Bread & Roses, so as not to inundate you with email. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, and as always, feel free to use the forum on our website, www.eastside-olympia.org, to share thoughts with neighbors, on this and other topics.
As you know from my message from May 16th, Bread & Roses has decided, with Thurston County Housing Authority input, to move 8 of 32 men from the current Devoe street shelter to the women’s shelter on 8th. This will last until approximately December of this year, depending on how quickly the new Devoe street shelter is completed.
The driving force behind this change is 1) Bread & Roses was originally told that all men at the old shelter could stay until the new facility was built; it was just recently that they found this not to be true, and 2) women are slightly easier to place into alternative housing than men, using federal tenant rent vouchers, available at the county level.
Comments received from neighbors in the last week have varied from strongly supporting Bread & Roses mission, and their place as one of our neighbors, to wanting more information about the situation, to wanting the ENA to step in and block this change.
Information that I have obtained from Bread & Roses administrator, Selena Kilmoyer since my last message includes:
- the 8 men staying at the 8th Ave. shelter have been screened; there are no drug users or sexual predators.
- 4 are on Social Security disability, and 4 are day laborers, when work is available.
- Selena has successfully implemented a “no visitors” policy at the existing men’s shelter, and will do the same with the men on 8th Ave.
- Selena is requesting the City of Olympia police department to do “run-throughs” of this portion of the neighborhood more frequently than they currently do, to help ensure further safety for surrounding neighbors.
I have also learned, from a City of Olympia housing specialist, information that is available for public viewing relating to Bread & Roses conditional use permit issued in 1988. At that time, a permit was issued that allowed B&R to have women and children only at the shelter. As of two years ago, families were placed elsewhere, and only single women were housed there.
Fair housing laws have changed since 1988, and there is the possibility that such laws barring discrimination on several issues, including sex, would override the conditional use permit, though a legal opinion has not been sought by the city.
That’s about it. Again, please let me know if you have further questions.
Jody M. Suhrbier
Eastside Neighborhood Association