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New plan begins for homeless in Olympia

The City of Olympia is trying a new approach to homelessness on city streets. The mitigation project is underway.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Several dozen homeless men and women in downtown Olympia have a week to find a new place to live.

Next week, the city will start clearing tents, pallets, and trash that cover the city-owned parking lot on Franklin Street and Olympia Avenue.

The homeless can return in approximately two weeks, but they’ll have to agree to rules in a new strategy for dealing with the city’s homeless population. As long as tenants obey the laws, they will be allowed to camp on the site indefinitely.

The block will be surrounded with fences. Tenants who register with the city will be given tents, assigned camping spots, have running water and portable toilets will be available.

RELATED: Olympia tries new approach to homelessness

“I’m confident it will work. For how many it’ll work for, we’ll find out,” said Colin DeForrest, Olympia’s Homeless Response Coordinator.

DeForrest said the block is considered a “mitigation” site. He hopes the tenants will eventually find permanent housing.

By having a place for the homeless to go, the city will eventually be able to clear other makeshift campsites where, according to DeForrest, “They’re either unsafe or unhealthy, or become a problem for the community.”