The response below is to an email from a concerned ENA resident concerning funding of the Low Barrier Shelter vs. rapid rehousing:

Hi, nice to hear from you! The HOME Bd did not vote to¬†‘defund’ rapid re-housing agencies, instead we gave rapid rehousing money to two providers with a good history of providing the intensive case management required not just to get people into housing quickly, but to provide the extensive wrap-around services these clients need in order to successfully stay housed.

We voted to give Sidewalk $150,000, which is $50,000 more than we gave them last year, and we gave the Family Support Center $100,000, which is less than we gave them last year, because we intend to give both of these providers more money from the consolidated homeless grant later this year.

I’ve provided The Olympian a response to their editorial from last Thursday morning’s issue, in which they make a number of errors –principally, that it’s not rapid rehousing OR shelter, it’s rapid rehousing AND shelter (which is why Interfaith Works submitted both the Sidewalk AND The Peoples House proposals). I believe my response will run some time this week. It essentially says that the HOME Bd made funding recommendations that we felt struck a fair balance between capital projects (such as Habitat homes, a veterans shelter at Drexel House, facility improvements at the Yelm homeless shelter, the Peoples House, etc), and services (such as operations at Quixote Village, rapid rehousing at Sidewalk and the Family Support Center, emergency apartments for clients of the Housing Authority, and operations of both Rosie’s Place and Haven House at CYS). It also points out that we had nearly $5M in requests for only $2.1M, so of course, not everyone got what they were asking for.

I understand your neighborhood is concerned about the proposed location of The Peoples House. That’s a different matter, however, than whether or not we need a shelter. We definitely do. We’ll all have to work together on where.

Thanks for your interest in the issue of homelessness in our community. Solving it will require a lot more transitional housing, affordable housing and permanent supportive housing than we currently have. In the meanwhile, to get the homeless out of the woods and off the streets requires shelters. It’s not ideal, and it’s not the permanent solution, but it’s a humane step along the way to a more permanent solution. I’m grateful we have providers like Interfaith Works willing to step up for all of us.

Karen Messmer