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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Karen Valenzuela, Thurston County Commissioner, 360-786-5440
Mike McGowan, Yelm City Councilmember, 360-458-1129

Housing the Homeless. How are we doing.

OLYMPIA – The public is invited to attend an upcoming community forum regarding issues around homelessness and the recently completed 2010 Homeless Census Report. The Thurston County HOME Consortium is sponsoring the forum. One of the goals of the effort is to increase community involvement in the fight against homelessness.

The forum, entitled “Housing the Homeless – How are we doing?” will take place May 1st from 8:45am to Noon at the Thurston County Courthouse, Building One. The event includes a panel discussion by various homeless activists, advocates, elected officials and volunteers, as well as people employed by social service agencies.

The HOME Consortium, chaired by Yelm Councilmember Mike McGowan, is a team of elected officials from each jurisdiction in Thurston County that works to meet the housing needs of citizens within the county. “The new homeless numbers are sobering,” says McGowan. “Despite our goal to dramatically reduce the numbers of homeless over the last five years, the numbers have actually increased.”

On January 28th of this year, Thurston County participated in the statewide annual homeless census, which provides a way to determine the number of homeless people and the causes of their homelessness. The results of the census show a 121% increase from the 2006 count, in spite of the efforts of the HOME Consortium and other local housing funders to reduce homelessness by half.

“The HOME Consortium’s vision”, says Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela “is to open the door to a brighter future for homeless individuals in our community.” The HOME Consortium has distributed more than $7.5-million over the last five years to fund projects that address homelessness.

The community forum on homelessness is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Anna Schlecht with the City of Olympia Housing Program at 753-8183 or by e-mail at aschlech@ci.olympia.wa.us. A copy of the Homeless Census Report is available at www.co.thurston.wa.us/bocc .

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3