Homelessness is a top issue Pierce County needs to address, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammier said in his State of the County Address Wednesday.
Pierce County is dealing with an exploding homeless population, and the newly elected Dammier said he wants to focus the county’s efforts on the challenges faced by homeless veterans.
“It is unconscionable to me that anyone who has served our country in the military would not have a clean, safe place to live,” he said.
Dammier proposed an appropriation of $750,000 to house and serve homeless veterans at the Washington Soldiers Home in Orting. A portion of that money, $250,000 would help run a facility for homeless women veterans at the Betsy Ross Project in Orting.
The home is expected to open by the beginning of April.
The head of the project, Ray Switzer, said he found out two weeks ago that the county was interested in the project.
“We were excited,” Switzer said. “We were about ready to open, and we weren’t sure how were going to fund the whole program. We were kind of out searching. It was a blessing from that standpoint.”
Those who will be helping out in the new home hope it will be blessing for the women who live there.
"That whole thing is about empowerment and to move forward and to move on and to not be stuck anymore," said Debbie Worley, who is a homeless army veteran.
Worley has walked in the shoes of the women who will be in this house. She'll serve as a supervisor and a mentor.
The home was designed by Karen McClain, who picked bright colors for the walls and butterflies to line the home.
"Because that is the most beautiful symbol of spreading your wings and flying way,” McClain said. “When one of our ladies gets her wings and is ready to go and move on, we're going to color it in and put her name underneath it. We're hoping they come and spend as much time as they need to and then they fly."