If the downtown merchants are experiencing crime caused by some of the homeless population, why is it logical to create a 40-bed “low barrier” shelter on 10th Avenue next to several schools and homes? Low-barrier shelters have fewer rules and take the people that other shelters reject. They tend to attract more criminals and sex offenders — no ID required. Is this type of facility even a “best practice” for care of these people? What is the social and economic impact of this potential move? And, who makes this decision? Those of us who live nearby found out about it from a newspaper article only a few weeks ago.
The east side neighborhood is a diverse, family-friendly community where people are refurbishing older homes and moving toward the downtown core. They enjoy being within walking distance to the many things that downtown can offer. However, if their security, personal safety and quality of life are threatened and diminished, they will head for the suburbs, stop investing in the central city and do their shopping at the mall. That is the wrong direction for Olympia. Most cities are trying to encourage people to live, work, play and shop downtown.
We must find a more thoughtful alternative to help the homeless, one that doesn’t put other vulnerable groups at risk, such as school children, the elderly and single women in the east side neighborhood. Let’s go back to the drawing board on this one.