Homeless drop-in clinic in Olympia getting mixed reviews

Businesses neighboring Providence Community Care Center say the center has attracted the homeless, and the city has said there's room for improvement.

Is a new clinic for the homeless in downtown Olympia helping or making the problem worse?

Since opening last September, the Providence Community Care Center has served as many as 200 people a day.

Guests get everything from a hot shower and access to laundry machines to medical and mental health assistance.

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“They encouraged me and help me find ways to get stronger,” said Maddison Hope, a homeless woman who visits the center six days a week.

Hope said the center is trying to get a permanent place to live so she doesn’t have to stay at an Olympia shelter.

“The vast majority of the people we’re dealing with have really complex issues,” said center manager T.J. LaRoque, who said they have helped people get into homes, and the services offered have reduced the wait times and volumes at local emergency rooms.

But neighboring businesses have complained about the center attracting the homeless to the sidewalks and alleys surrounding the center.

The City of Olympia gave Providence a $200,000 grant to open the facility.

City spokesperson Kellie Braseth said while the center is connecting vulnerable people with services, but noted there’s room for improvement.

“While that help is being delivered inside the Community Care Center, there are real challenges with what’s going on outside,” said Braseth.

She said the city is working with Center’s operator and the downtown business community to find a “place of balance.”