Eastside resident draws line at low-barrier shelter

Olympia, Eastside residentAugust 29, 2013 

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.

The proposed shelter is considered “low-barrier” because it will have minimal rules for those seeking its services. Identification will not be required, which means that critical details regarding the individuals served — including sex offender status and violent criminal history — may remain unknown. Under proposed shelter rules, those under the influence will be accepted, but those in possession of weapons and drugs will be turned away — into our neighborhood.

The low-barrier shelter is where we must draw the line. To us, the low-barrier shelter translates to high risk for our families and neighbors.

While we, as individuals, may hold differing opinions on whether a low-barrier shelter warrants a place in Olympia, we all agree that such a shelter does not belong in a residential area. The (not in my backyard) concept is authority-centered and reduces land-use disputes to a moral struggle between rational/civic-minded planners and irrational/self-interested opponents. The syndrome framework fails to capture the political and ethical complexities of locating human services to high-risk populations within residential areas and places the moral struggle to the neighborhood in which (the shelter) is being placed, rather than the decision makers, where it belongs.

This shelter does not belong in or near the Eastside neighborhood.

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