Letters to the Editor

Missing Middle helps address homelessness

The mission of SideWalk is to end homelessness in Thurston County. Changes to land use policies — including the Missing Middle — are a vital part of our community’s strategy for preventing homelessness and, as such, are a key element of the local 5-Year Homeless Housing Plan.

As rental prices grow and rental availability becomes scarcer, more people are falling onto the streets. Our data at SideWalk, as a coordinated entry provider for homeless services, show that the number of people newly falling into homelessness has grown each year for the last five years in a row. The rate at which we are moving people into homes (no small thing - SideWalk helped over 1,000 people to escape homelessness in 5 years) is now radically outstripped by the rate at which new people are falling onto the streets.

Too many people are being squeezed out of an extraordinarily tight housing market. In order for SideWalk’s participants to find homes, and to prevent them from falling onto the streets in the first place, rental prices need to stabilize (or decrease) and the availability of rental homes needs to grow. We need diverse housing options: studios, micro-apartments, tiny homes, accessory dwelling units, room rentals, and smaller, lower cost homes.​

T​he Missing Middle does not address the entire need, and our community will still have a lot of work to do, but it does represent a very important first step in the process of stabilizing and diversifying the local housing market.