Questions and Concerns Raised at August 19 Forum

Monday August 19 marked the first public forum for Eastside neighbors regarding the low-barrier shelter, held at St. Michael’s church from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. The forum was scheduled in response to the outcry following the announcement of the proposed 10th Ave location in the August 7 edition of The Olympian. The event was attended by many Eastside residents, members of St. Michael’s church and parents and staff associated with St. Michael’s School and St. Mike’s Tikes daycare and preschool, community members, City of Olympia staff and Councilpersons and more.

Interfaith Works gave a brief presentation and discussed the timeline for opening the shelter. The next step is to apply for a conditional use permit, required in order to change what the building will be used for. The average timeline for a conditional use permit approval is 45 – 90 days (up to 120 days by law). Public process is a required component of the conditional use application, typically one or two public meetings coordinated by the City. The conditional use permit then goes before the hearings examiner, a third-party. Application for building permit typically follows the receipt of the conditional use permit. Once building permits are received, construction can begin. Interfaith Works did not provide a date by which they plan to apply for their conditional use permit and they are still mentioning November 1 as the date to open the shelter.

Below are listed many of the questions and concerns raised by the group. Interfaith Works stated that, due to the volume of questions and concerns and the brief time for the forum, they would respond with answers in “one or two weeks.”


  • What were the safety concerns with the other sites?
  • What are the safety concerns with the Eastside site?
  • Why were schools not part of the criteria?
  • If there was/is a large neighborhood opposition, would IW find another site?
  • How will this shelter be in compliance with the laws, particularly as the related to sex offenders and residency close to schools?
  • Has the city done a risk assessment with the school, and if so, how can the public/the neighborhood access that document?
  • Are there models for this type of shelter?
  • Is there evidence or research on low-barrier shelters?
  • Specifically, is there research on the placement of low-barrier shelters in residential neighborhoods?
  • When were school administrators/leaders/teachers/parents/community members notified?
  • If they were not notified, why not?
  • What will the staffing level be?
  • How many staff will be on duty, and what is their training/experience in managing this kind of shelter and population?
  • Will the shelter need to rely heavily on volunteers?
  • Will there be limits on the lengths of stays?
  • What is the timeline for this process?
  • Will we have the opportunity to meet, and will there be a public process?
  • Given conditional use permit timeline, will we have time to have additional meetings?
  • Who absorbs the risks associated with the shelter?
  • And how are associated costs covered, such as the cost of extra supervision of kids, given easy accessibility to playground?
  • What will be done to mitigate the loss in our property value as a result of this shelter?
  • Why can business and developers downtown say “not here” and boot this project, but this neighborhood cannot?
  • Why are the concerns of businesses more powerful than neighbors?
  • What additional police resources will be available to the shelter and the neighborhood?
  • Why has there been such a lack of public process?
  • Will Saint Michael’s have an opportunity to be part of the public process?
  • Can you ensure safety of children, particularly on the open campus of Saint Michael’s School? Sex offenders do not register. How do you plan to handle the presence of sex offenders?
  • On the topic of ‘social justice,’ where is the justice in taking safe neighborhoods from families? What resources will be available to participants to help them address addiction, find employment, get into stable housing, etc.?
  • If an individual has alcohol, drugs or weapons on him/her when he/she enters, and won’t let them be confiscated, what will be done? Will they be turned away into the neighborhood?
  • Why should we trust that IW will act in good faith and pursue public process?
  • Why is it a good idea to place this so close to schools?
  • What, specifically, are the next steps in this process?
  • Is there community outreach with other cities so that the homeless/transients are not all coming to Olympia?
  • Who is on the planning committee for this shelter within four blocks of the location?
  • Why this sense of urgency?
  • Why can we not step back and slow this process down?
  • What is the plan for the shelter after grant/funding expires?


  • Location by schools, playgrounds, homes
  • The low-barrier nature of this shelter, especially with kids around.
  • There are already a disproportionate number of social services in the Eastside Neighborhood.
  • Related concern about centralization of services.
  • Eastside is carrying the brunt of services in the city.
  • Historically, our neighborhood has felt disenfranchised; this would continue that.
  • A lot of times, sex offenders don’t even register/self-report
  • Sex offenders near school Increase in crime
  • Empty beds at other facilities
  • This shelter took money away from rapid rehousing, which helps children and families
  • Olympia is bearing a big load
  • The idea that policies and procedures will be developed later; that should be done now
  • Shelter becoming a dumping ground for those rejected from other shelters
  • How those high-risk groups will interact with each other 24-hour access and lack of guidelines and regulations
  • Dogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s