OLYMPIA – Partners within the Regional Housing Council (RHC) will begin a year-long Scattered Site Management Pilot Project which takes an innovative approach to addressing issues related to unsheltered residents. The RHC is supporting the work done through Thurston County and the City of Olympia. The Thurston County Office of Housing and Homeless Prevention, a division within the Public Health and Social Services Department, through combined local, state, and federal homeless housing funding sources, will provide staffing to the project and funding to the city.
The scattered site project is intended to be a step toward helping people move into permanent housing while prioritizing reduction of trash and debris, improvement of hygiene and sanitation, and reduction of conflicts among residents and surrounding neighbors and businesses. Locations identified for participation in the pilot project include the vehicles along Ensign Road, the encampment off Deschutes Parkway, and the encampments on Wheeler Road.
Based on a recommendation from the RHC, Thurston County is providing more than $930,000 in funding, which includes up to $240,000 to the City of Olympia to cover a portion of the site management costs. The remaining funds are supporting a contract to provide case management and site governance support. The Board of County Commissioners approved funding for the project and authorized the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department to sign a one-year contract with the selected applicant, Olympia Mutual Aid Partners (OLYMAP), a local nonprofit organization.
“We are excited to partner with the City of Olympia and OLYMAP in this innovative approach,” said BoCC Commissioner and RHC Vice-Chair, Carolina Mejia. “We hope this project will provide the support and services the unsheltered residents need to move into supportive housing while improving safety, increasing access to services, and reducing environmental impacts.”
OLYMAP will oversee site governance and provide one-on-one case management for individuals camping at the sites, and the city will focus on site-management tasks, including finding vendors for and overseeing garbage collection and hygiene services. The city will also work with those people camping at the sites and residents of the surrounding areas to reduce and resolve conflicts.
"The Scattered Site program will greatly improve access to services for people living unsheltered in our community while reducing the impact of these encampments on the surrounding neighbors, property owners and businesses,” said Keith Stahley, assistant city manager for Olympia. “Although we would prefer to have a safe dwelling for everyone, we recognize the need to better support people where they are as those units are constructed.”
As an innovation, a key aspect of the pilot project will involve the tracking of results. If the data indicates the scattered-site management successfully addresses housing, trash and hygiene issues, and reduces conflicts in the pilot areas during the first 12 months, the RHC, county, and city will look to extend it to other sites and for a longer period of time.