Reality check: Shelter is not only for drug addicts

OlympiaMarch 11, 2014 

A March 2 letter to the editor titled “No Shelter Downtown, Use Holly Motel Site” described low-barrier shelter as “… little or no screening (so it is a shelter for those who are barred from other shelters for drug use, sex offenses, etc.).”

As an Olympian and downtown employee, I have cleaned up human feces and have had to move people from our doorway. I have also volunteered and taken time to meet members of the downtown street community.

People are barred from local shelters for having disabilities that are too difficult for the shelters to manage (which goes directly against the Americans with Disabilities Act), not having an ID, being gay or transgendered, or not being sober. Reasons people choose not to stay at local shelters are simple things like wanting to be treated like a human. Couples are barred from sleeping together even if they are married.

Low-barrier services are nationally recognized as the best option for homeless citizens. Do your homework, Olympia. It took me two minutes to read The People’s House website and find information like they will follow suit with the rest of our local shelters and not house level two and three sex offenders.

The longer people stay out of shelter, the longer they will be sleeping on our streets.

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