The opposition to the proposed People’s House — a low barrier shelter and advocacy center — in Olympia has been misguided. Interfaith Works’ approach to the issue has been impeccable. Their plan is founded on evidence-based programs that have been proved successful in other communities. They involved a variety of stakeholders to ensure an inclusive and strategic process. And they held community meetings where they invited opposing groups so they could address concerns and console anxieties.
Yet, despite all this, there are still people in Olympia who continuously and obstinately reject any proposed location for the People’s House. What makes the opposition’s position so frustrating is that all their major concerns regarding the presence of a low-barrier shelter have been proved false. If anything, the presence of a low-barrier shelter will have the opposite effect.
By providing a welcoming and amenable space for homeless people to receive services, the People’s House will play an important role in making downtown Olympia a safer and more sober environment. In this regard, those opposed to the People’s House are working against their own rhetoric.
The opposition to the People’s House is an essentially a NIMBY movement that has declared nearly all of Olympia its backyard. The sad truth is that such an extreme position can only spring from a prejudicial view that dehumanizes homeless people rather than a sincere and thoughtful concern for all Olympians.