Press Release: Olympia Neighborhood Draws the Line with Low-Barrier Shelter

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

Contact: Concerned Eastside Neighbors


4 thoughts on “Press Release: Olympia Neighborhood Draws the Line with Low-Barrier Shelter

  1. Dean

    Jessica, I will be there on Monday and will be strongly opposed to this idea. It will be interesting to hear if St. Micheal parish leadership is for or against this location. The e-mail that I read from the St. Micheal parish homeless advocate appears that they may be FOR this location.

    I’m still scratching my head on what they are thinking about locating such a shelter so close to a school except that it is a free building being offered up by the state. St. Michael and the other groups are opening themselves up to legal issues if any issues occur due to their selected location.

    Seriously! These people that have planned this have gone off their rockers. You can see the school’s playground from this location. A playground that has only two monitors and many hiding places!

    1. Jen

      Even more importantly, Madison will be empty of children this fall until the current construction is completed, sometime after Christmas break. This means that there would be ample opportunity for people to brush off the “it’s too near to Madison” argument until early next year, at which point the shelter would basically be considered too established to move and the argument would be made that it’s necessary due to weather, etc. The proposed location is unacceptable, given the types of people who would be allowed entry – can they legally allow convicted sex-offenders to have a ‘residence’ so near to a school? Many sex offenders aren’t allowed to live within a certain number of blocks of a school – how do they propose that this would work for them? Have they calculated the distance and found it to be within the terms of most parole restrictions? And how would they know who is a sex-offender if they don’t do ID checks in the first place? Or those with mental health issues? There are many, many complications that haven’t been considered here. The downtown business owners are clearly only concerned with whether or not the homeless prevent customers from frequenting their businesses and thereby losing profits, not the overall safety of the citizens of Olympia.

  2. Kellie

    We already have a low barrier shelter: The Jail. These individuals do not want to comply with common sense rules that all of the other shelters require. This neighborhood is not the place for this shelter. This city is not the place for this shelter!!! We bend over backwards for the truly and not so truly homeless in this city and this neighborhood in particular. Enough is enough! Common sense does not say locate this potentially violent, drunk and high, totally homeless by choice shelter anywhere near neighborhoods with or without children!

    Jessica is spearheading a terrific campagne and I am 100% behind her.


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