Don’t Turn Your Backs on People

LISTEN! More suffering is being caused in our community by local officials than by the Whitehouse. Lacey bans RVs, the Port of Olympia (biggest property owner in town) arrests campers at the behest of millionaires, State DES has the budget to pristinely manicure campus lawns and build a multimillion dollar new office, but refuses to stop locking vital public bathrooms during a pandemic. Thurston County has the biggest budget and does almost nothing. And Mayor Selby’s Olympia will tow a pregnant woman’s only home before waiting one week for a disability check to come in. ENOUGH!!! THERES NOWHERE TO GO!! Sweeping folks without alternatives is dangerous, illegal, illogical, expensive, and DOESNT WORK.

I live in a van which doesn’t start. I am still a human being. If you force me to move, I do not cease to exist: I just loose my only shelter, and my situation becomes much worse. I have strangers trolling my facebook, saying everyone like me should be killed. This is common; this is the pulse of our community, mirrored and magnified by our elected officials. I have several friends on Ensign Road. They are like me. They are being evicted, without due process, notification, conversation, or ANY OTHER PLACE TO GO.

Don’t turn your back on this. It’s cold outside. This is deadly. And don’t talk to me about Donald Trump.

… What’s important to understand is that the City of Olympia, who is behind this most recent act of recklessness, is not the only jurisdiction at fault. In fact, due to years of pressure and advocacy, they have actually become the only regional government body to do anything to address our challenges. RVs are on Ensign Rd as a DIRECT result of Lacey unconstitutionally banning unhoused people (currently being challenged in federal court) and WA State DES kicking out all RVs on Deschutes Parkway, with no where else to go (despite Martin vs. Boise ruling this as torture). Thurston County, with a mandate for public health and a much larger budget, is doing basically nothing. All of this is creating a snowballing and unmanageable situation of folks being swept into Olympias downtown core, which creates huge problems and overwhelms our city’s limited resources. Yes: the City of Olympia is acting very cruel and unwise. But the reality is other State and regional jurisdictions MUST be brought to the table, or our problems will only increase. It’s people like Bud Blake (Thu County Commissioner) and Chris Liu (head of DES, who absolutely must be brought to the table for mid/long-term solutions. These people are the true villains here, and also not used to getting public pressure in the same way Oly council/staff are.

… Where to start with DES!!! A deep and personal axe to grind… So, they’re Department of Enterprise Services: an ENORMOUS state agency, which controls most physical grounds owned by WA State. They have for years been extremely anti-homeless, and repeatedly refused to come to the table as a stakeholder. They’ve consistently persecuted and driven out forest and urban campers from public state lands, refusing to designate any of their property as an alternative (so much property, much of it unused). Despite very clear CDC guidelines, they refuse to open the existing public bathrooms/handwashing stations around the Capital Lake 24 hrs, leaving hundreds of folks with no access (during a pandemic, posing a public health risk to our whole community). They’ve done shady things on Deschutes Parkway, like telling vehicle dwellers they need to move temporarily for the Toy Run, then quickly posting permanent “no parking” signs once they leave. In September they started kicking out RVs (which started showing up after Lacey kicked out RVs), which then moved to Ensign Road, where they will now be swept out somewhere else, into neighborhoods or downtown, with homes towed and impounded at every step of the way, etc… Capitol Lake is, by the way, the historic “commons” for poor people in Olympia: during the depression this was the sight of “Little Hollywood” : Olympia’s Hoovertown neighborhood of homemade housing/businesses which was people’s last sanctuary to live, before it was systematically burnt down in an effort to… eradicate poverty? DES repeatedly asserts that they have no role to play in the challenges of homelessness, which as the custodians of state lands is ridiculous. They push people with no place to go, forcing them onto the streets of Olympia, which has a much smaller budget and owns a fraction of the property/infrastructure that the state does.

Walker Stephens, Olympia

By Letters

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