FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Olympia Neighborhood Draws the Line with Low-Barrier Shelter
Proposed Shelter Would House Sex Offenders and Felons Close to Schools and Homes
OLYMPIA, WASH. – Aug. 16, 2013 – A low-barrier homeless shelter means high-risk for families and neighbors. That’s the message Concerned Eastside Neighbors, a group of residents in Olympia’s Eastside Neighborhood, is sending to the community.
The proposed shelter is considered “low-barrier” because it will have minimal rules for entry. Its no-identification-required policy will open the facility to individuals including sex offenders, felons and drug addicts. The shelter is slated for a location less than 300 yards from Saint Mike’s Tikes Daycare and Saint Michael School and four blocks away from Madison Elementary and Avanti High School.
Under proposed shelter rules, individuals under the influence would be accepted, but those in possession of weapons and drugs would be turned away.
“A no-drugs/no-weapons policy is not a safeguard when those who do not comply will be released, potentially right back into our neighborhood,” says Eastside resident Nathan Allan. “As a dad of three young children, this is really concerning.”
The shelter was originally planned for the downtown core of Olympia, but business owners fought to have it moved. In response, Interfaith Works, the organization leading the shelter project, has identified 1011 10th Avenue SE in the Eastside Neighborhood as the new site location.
Steven Herppich, who has lived in the neighborhood with his family since 2006, asks, “How is a residential area a better location? Does the threat exist in a business district but not across the street from schools and homes? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Jessica Archer, spokesperson for the neighborhood group, says the neighborhood has a strong history of supporting services for those in need.
“The Eastside Neighborhood already houses a disproportionately large number of services for the Olympia community,” explains Archer. “We have been home to two Salvation Army facilities, Camp Quixote, Bread & Roses, Sidewalk and many more facilities. Even our local elementary school hosts a ‘welcome room’ for children in poverty. The neighborhood is a partner with these organizations, with many of us contributing time and resources to support their services.”
“But this shelter is different — it is really the breaking point for us,” she adds. “And judging from the support we’ve received from Olympia citizens, others feel the same way.”
With shelter supporters pushing for a November 1 opening, many residents feel the plan was moved along quickly to avoid raising awareness about the location. Neighbors found out about the proposed site Aug. 7 from an article in local newspaper The Olympian. Since then, they have been rallying to prevent the plan from moving forward.
Members and supporters of Concerned Eastside Neighbors will be attending a community forum on Monday, Aug. 19, to voice their opposition to the proposed placement of the low-barrier shelter. The forum will take place at Saint Michael Parish, 1204 11th Ave SE, in Olympia at 7 p.m.
Concerned Eastside Neighbors is a group of residents in Olympia’s Eastside Neighborhood who stand together in strong opposition to the placement of a low-barrier homeless shelter (the People’s House) in or adjacent to the neighborhood. Learn more at https://concernedeastsideneighbors.wordpress.com/.
Contact: Concerned Eastside Neighbors