The Feb.12 edition of The Olympian included a very well-written article on the city of Olympia's adoption of a new parks plan. The new plan “focuses on buying more than 300 acres of land for new parks” in the next 20 years. This commendable goal was made possible by a “voter-approved ballot measure that will generate $3 million dollars in tax money for park maintenance and park acquisition starting in 2017.”
Great news for the citizens of Olympia! Unless you're homeless.
Now that the city has its parks, what will the City Council do about the homeless downtown? Will all those who worked so hard to pass the parks levy now work as hard or harder to solve homelessness and downtown vagrancy? Or do they think they’ve done enough by painting the pavement by the artesian well and installing some port-a-pots?
Olympia needs a 20-year-plan on addressing downtown homelessness. That plan should include building homes for the homeless. Those who work to solve homelessness, like SideWalk, know that providing a safe, reliable place to live is the best solution to getting people off the streets and back into a more stable life. Until a plan is developed, at least open the doors to City Hall and let the homeless hangout in the lobby and empty chamber rooms.
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The YMCA has provided free coffee for years for homeless who seek shelter in its lobby. So could the city. It’s time for the council to do something.