Many things in life are dictated by trends and the direction we’re heading, and paying attention over time will reveal how we’re doing. It’s like Unlike weather, it occurs very slowly, so you’ll need to track it for a while to see its change and direction.
When I had my second herniated disc, I had to decide whether or not to have surgery. I was in less pain and was improving slowly so I decided not to have the surgery.A year later I was okay because I kept an eye on trends and they were trending good.
We’re seeing the same thing with homeless services now. Coming out into town along the waterfront, I got the impression that downtown Olympia is cleaner and more pedestrian friendly. New restaurants and businesses are opening and it feels different. Clearly, part of that is the result of many programs that have been implemented over the past few years, including:
- Crisis Response Unit (CRU)
- Deschutes Parkway Camp Closure,
- improved enforcement of sidewalk sleeping rules;
- friendly face program,
- Downtown Ambassador Program, and
- Increased availability of shelter and temporary housing.
I spoke with Rich Hoey, Assistant City Manager for the City of Olympia. The City of Olympia aims to clear Ensign Road of all vehicles by mid-October. Rather than setting up a semi-RV park on the recently purchased site on Franz Anderson Road, Ensign Road folks are being prioritized into new tiny homes in Quince Street Village.
With more experience and the success of the Tiny House model, Olympia is designing another small home village on the grounds of Franz Anderson Road. This is a much more effective solution, quicker to start and run, and easier to manage. The current vision for the rest of this property is some kind of permanent temporary housing.
state is accelerating
Another improvement: some camps have been closed and others cleared. The Pacific Avenue/I-5 interchange camp has been closed and cleared. The Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) did it. it’s their jurisdiction. Congress has provided additional funding to address highway interchanges. Good to see the states step up. They also resumed highway sweeping, collecting enough trash to fill a 15-foot-deep lumen field.
One of the challenges facing the DOT is that the Enablement Act, which funded to address highway interchanges, requires the DOT to make shelter or housing available to campers before they can seek eviction. There is And that’s not enough. If all the Ensign Road campers agreed to move there, there would be some empty space in Quince Street Village, but not enough to accommodate everyone.
Olympia is in the process of buying hotels to provide more shelter to facilitate the closure of existing camps. I spoke with Troy Cowan at his DOT, and they’re reviewing his three-year process for moving and temporarily housing people as new resources become available. increase. At the Department of Commerce, Penny Thomas sent him a copy of the DOT’s right-of-way activity log, which has been significantly improved. The state also awarded her a $20 million grant for the purchase of a hotel room. They also gave him $4.5 million to Thurston County, $900,000 for outreach, $200,000 for housing for people fleeing domestic violence, and Interfaith Works for her three years of housing. awarded $3.5 million.
One area of mixed trends has to do with cleanup. The DOT’s current position is that it has no intention of closing camps like Sleater-Kinney/I-5 until housing is available and the camps can be closed. Olympia got him a $200,000 contract to deal with the now-expanding Wheeler camp. That money is mainly for cleanup. The budget only includes money to relocate 10 people. But despite everything else going on, Olympia hasn’t put that plan into action.
None of this is simple. As some camps close, others grow larger. We’ve seen it at Wheeler Camp and at “The Jungle”, a sprawling camp that stretches from Martin Way to Pacific Avenue. While the DOT is working to keep vacant lots from being occupied, preventing this type of spillover requires a comprehensive enforcement mechanism by all jurisdictions.
clean the camp
My desire to clean up some camps now is not in line with where our services are headed both at the state level and at Olympia. Cleaning these camps should be a priority. is. It makes us all feel good, and it’s good for the people at camp. The fact that there are more things to clean later is the same thing that happens on highways, and we clean them repeatedly.
There is money out there and people are working on all kinds of programs and proposals. It’s just a matter of precedence.
One thing is for sure, Olympia, county and community organizations have very talented, hardworking and caring staff.
Addressing national issues at the local level requires an enormous amount of resources, and the way these issues are addressed is commendable. What’s more, states whose deadlines have passed are now involved, and there are talented people out there working to provide long-term, positive solutions to the homeless.
Pat Cole – email@example.com – Former member of Olympia City Council. As a citizen, he aims to set a positive tone and lead well-informed debates on local civic issues.
Editor’s Note: The above opinions are those of Pat Cole and not necessarily those of Pat Cole. Jolt or its staff or board of directors.
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