Olympia to start moving homeless out of downtown, into ‘mitigation site’
A plan is being set in motion Monday to deal with Olympia’s homeless population with what the city is calling a “mitigation site.”
The goal is to end the situation with homeless people living tents all around downtown Olympia by moving them to a designated area.
The number of homeless people living in tents has skyrocketed from about three dozen to well over three hundred in the last three months. Some say it’s gotten out of control, but the city said it’s working to make changes.
“The goal of the mitigation site is to be that first positive step for some of these individuals,” said Homeless Response Coordinator Colin DeForrest. “It’s no longer going to be OK to be in the City of Olympia’s parking lot. We’re going to find a better option for you, and if you don’t want to do that, then Olympia might not be the spot for you.”
The first mitigation site will be at Olympia Ave. NE and Franklin St. NE, which is a current homeless camp. It’ll be a first-come, first-serve site, fitting 80 people. Each person gets a 10-by-10-foot spot and a tent.
DeForrest said it’ll be fenced with bathrooms, running water and trash cans.
City officials said they’re spending about $100,000 to make changes and build the site. Construction begins the week of Dec. 3 and there is expected to be more than one mitigation site in the future.
Olympia, like many other cities, has struggled to deal with the issue ever since a court ruling said arresting people for camping in public areas is cruel and unusual punishment especially if there is not shelter available for them.