Olympia homeless shelter draws wide concern, hope

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 8 at 7:23 AM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A proposal to start a homeless shelter with fewer rules drew a big crowd at a public meeting Wednesday night.

Members of local faith communities are collaborating for “The People’s House,” an emergency shelter which could house and provide services for up to 40 men and women.
 
“Getting into housing quickly and rapidly is a key to accessing additional services and getting them out of the many situations they’re in,” said Daniel Kadden, Interfaith Works Executive Director.
 
In Thurston County, there are at least 237 unsheltered people, with veterans and the transgendered among the most vulnerable.
 
“I’ve accepted that part of my life is just messed up,” said Johnny Peden, who’s spent the majority of his life on the streets.
 
Peden,61, says even though the homeless want help, they can’t always get it.
 
“They’re just abrasive with things and won’t let people get close to them,” he said.
 
According to Interfaith Works, their situations also prevent them from going into shelters. Many have pets, are couples that don’t want to be separated, have a problem with sobriety or are sex offenders. All of which are against rules in other shelters.
 
“The People’s House” would allow those people in with only policies against drug use, substance abuse and unsafe situations.
 
“It’s a touchy issue here, they like to cause a lot of trouble,” said Samantha Cox, an employee at Exile Tattoo.
 
After input from the community, organizers say 10th Avenue Southeast and Eastside Street Southeast is the best possible location, away from the walking business district and close to bus lines.
 
Cox’s tattoo business is across the street from Sylvester Park where a chaotic fight broke out last month resulting in the stabbing of multiple people. While other businesses argue the shelter would attract more transients, Cox believes it will make a positive impression on the community.
 
“I think it would be a good idea. We just need to get them out of the area somewhere to go pretty much, hang out, where they like to be rather than out and about causing trouble,” she said.
 
Peden believes the shelter would be the clean slate he needs.
 
“I’m going to do it. Up the road I see some changes in my life I’ll initiate,” he said.
 
“The People’s House” needs $365,000 to start up, which organizers say they don’t have yet. Still, the plan is to open by November 1st. Once open, the goal is to cut Thurston County’s Homeless rate in half.

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