10th Avenue site out of running for low-barrier shelter

mbatcheldor@theolympian.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Speaking behalf of the Interfaith Works' organization Heather Moore outlines the proposed low barrier homeless shelter project to an audience of over 200 who packed the Saint Michael Parish at 11th and Boundary in Olympia Monday evening.

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Homeless advocates no longer will consider placing a low-barrier homeless shelter at 1011 10th Ave. SE, a location that drew opposition from many residents of the Eastside neighborhood.

Heather Moore, executive director of Capital Recovery Center, broke the news at the Olympia City Council meeting Tuesday night.

“We will, however, continue to actively pursue other safe and viable sites suited to shelter operations,” Moore said.

Interfaith Works, a group of local faith communities, has been leading the effort to find a place for the shelter, with the goal of getting people off the streets who can’t or won’t stay in other shelters. It was working with other area nonprofits, including Capital Recovery Center.

The planned 40-bed shelter, to be called The People’s House, would allow felons, sex offenders, couples and people with pets. The facility also would serve as a day center and consolidate the shelters that rotated among local churches during cold-weather months.

The 10th Avenue site was the third location the shelter group had seriously considered. Advocates had hoped to open the shelter Nov. 1 and fund it with $400,000 from Thurston County and $35,000 set aside by the Olympia City Council. To do so, they would have to sign a lease for a building and obtain a conditional use permit from the city of Olympia.

Many residents of the Eastside neighborhood, who organized as Concerned Eastside Neighbors, raised several concerns, including that the shelter would have brought criminal activity to the neighborhood, that it would have been too close to schools and parks, and that it would have attracted more homeless people to Olympia.

The 10th Avenue location is one block away from St. Michael Catholic School and St. Mike’s Tikes, a preschool. Madison Elementary School, Avanti High School and Madison Scenic Park are a few blocks away.

Interfaith Works maintained that sex offenders already live in the neighborhood and that the shelter would improve public safety and prevent offenders from reoffending.

Some people in the Eastside neighborhood were elated that the 10th Avenue location no longer is under consideration for the shelter. But a concern remained that the shelter might be placed somewhere else in the neighborhood.

Jessica Archer of Concerned Eastside Neighbors said the group wants the city to place a moratorium on such shelters while new rules are developed that restrict how close they can be to schools.

“So I am concerned that schools and the neighborhood were never considered in the criteria for selecting the shelter,” she said.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com @MattBatcheldor

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