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City Council provides $1.1M for supportive housing, homeless shelter on Martin Way

Martin Way housing, shelter plan gets backing from Olympia City Council

Olympia City Council is calling for more outreach to neighbors as Interfaith Works and the Low Income Housing Institute move forward with plans for a combination shelter and supportive housing facility at 2828 Martin Way East.
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Olympia City Council is calling for more outreach to neighbors as Interfaith Works and the Low Income Housing Institute move forward with plans for a combination shelter and supportive housing facility at 2828 Martin Way East.

Olympia City Council members want to see more outreach to neighbors as plans move forward for a combination shelter and supportive housing facility on Martin Way East.

That project got a boost Tuesday night when the council voted unanimously to provide it with $1.1 million from the city’s Home Fund, the first award to a development since voters authorized a sales tax increase last year to fund housing projects and homeless services.

The project is a joint venture between Seattle-based Low Income Housing Institute, which would develop and manage 60 units of permanent supportive housing for people who are mentally ill or homeless, and Olympia’s Interfaith Works, which would run a 60-bed shelter. That would replace its current overnight shelter at First Christian Church in downtown.

The proposed site, at 2828 Martin Way E, was purchased by the city last year for a future housing development. In the meantime, city staff discussed housing people in tents or tiny homes on the site, and later pitched moving Interfaith Works’ shelter there.

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Officials last met with neighbors to discuss plans for the site in November. Dan Gariepy, who lives nearby, told the council he learned of the latest proposal in The Olympian.

“We’ve tried over and over to be heard, and it still feels like we’re not getting the feedback from the city and council that we are looking for,” he said.

Several council members said they supported the project but were disappointed at the lack of outreach to neighbors so far. LIHI and Interfaith Works plan to hold a meeting for neighbors at 6 p.m. July 22 at VFW Post 318, 2902 Martin Way E.

No permits have been issued for the project, though plans submitted to the city’s planning department call for demolishing an existing one-story building and replacing it with two five-story apartment buildings, with the shelter on the ground floor of one of the buildings.

The project was selected over two others seeking Home Fund money. Awards are meant to make proposals more competitive for state funding and federal tax credits, which can be hard to get, said Cary Retlin, Olympia’s Home Fund manager.

An advisory board that reviewed the applications considered spreading out the money between applicants. In the end it recommended prioritizing the Martin Way project to give it the best chance, said Lisa Vatske, the advisory board’s leader.

Follow more of our reporting on Homelessness in Thurston County

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Abby Spegman joined The Olympian in 2017. She covers the city of Olympia and a little bit of everything else. She previously worked at newspapers in Oregon, New Hampshire and Hawaii.
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