Future Jefferson County Homeless Camp Under Consideration
PORT TOWNSEND – Jefferson County officials continue to assess options for possible short-term solutions to relocate homeless residents to Jefferson County Fairgrounds campgrounds as the expiration date of the moratorium on evictions from the June 30 is looming.
Cape George Equestrian Park tops the list but is not the only option under consideration.
No final decision has been made on a site for a future homeless camp.
County commissioners met with housing service providers, law enforcement, firefighters and other officials in a special two-hour meeting on Thursday to discuss various ideas and plans on where and how an encampment temporary homeless can be put in place while permanent solutions are sought.
If a homeless encampment is established to replace the campground encampment, it would be considered an overflow shelter and would be managed by the Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), in accordance with the ordinance of emergency for temporary housing that commissioners approved earlier this year.
Although the fairground is owned by the county, the county leased it to the Jefferson County Fair Association to oversee, and the board plans to evict homeless campers staying there when the moratorium in l “State will be lifted at the end of the month,” said Greg Brotherton. , district commissioner 3.
When asked if the fair’s board would be willing to allow campers to stay until a permanent solution / accommodation can be created, Brotherton said: “I’m sure the board administration of the fair would not agree. “
While there are 10 places available at the American Legion Hall shelter and some campers have settled in Peter’s Place – a wooden tent village in Port Hadlock – around 38 people will be displaced during the eviction.
Some of the 38 are couples or families, making shelter accommodation difficult if not impossible, said Cherish Cronmiller, executive director of OlyCAP.
Authorities are also working to develop an official overflow encampment with a large portion of the homeless population in one location so that providers can continue to provide services.
Establishing an official encampment would also help prevent an uncontrolled encampment from spawning in a park or public property, said Kate Dean, chairman of the county commission.
She said homeless people could create such a zone legally if the county did not have adequate facilities for them following a Federal Court ruling.
Brotherton created a matrix of 24 potential properties / places to move homeless people to, and he presented it on Thursday.
The matrix noted the potential locations by zoning, transport, access to services, drinking water and other infrastructure needs. They were then organized into options worth considering, possible options with some conflicts that should be resolved, or unsustainable options.
Having an overflow shelter shows a commitment to devoting resources to the problem of homelessness, rather than pouring money into law enforcement and hospital costs resulting from lack of monitoring and access to services. services, Cronmiller said.
No other property outside of Memorial Field has the infrastructure of electricity, running water and toilets like the fairground does, she added.
At the top of the list is the Cape George Equestrian Park property at 1172 Cape George Road.
The Cape George property lacks running water, electricity and is far from the city.
Brotherton said he was working with Goodman Sanitation, which would provide portable sinks and toilets at a discount. Electricity could be connected to the property, and the Jefferson Transit Authority is prepared to have two phone shuttles from the property each day at no cost to the county, he said.
Another cost to the property is the creation of a gravel platform where call and emergency services can stop and turn around, he added.
Brotherton presented a preliminary budget of $ 94,294 for the ongoing services of a homeless settlement, which includes water, fencing, surveillance and internet connections at the Cape George property. But he stressed that the numbers are only estimates at this point.
Neighbors of the site fear they have problems similar to those reported by people living near the funfair camp.
Officials said that if Cape George was created as an overflow shelter, OlyCAP will have a monitor there overnight, when the majority of emergency calls regarding the current encampment are made, and a fence would surround the area, according to the emergency ordinance adopted by the commissioners. .
District 2 Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour said she was concerned the Cape George property was too small. She measured it at just over an acre, which she considers too small for a 38-person camp.
Other potential properties include a 30-acre, four-parcel site on Mill Road, which would require a purchase of around $ 600,000.
Commissioners will continue discussions regarding homeless settlements at their meeting on Monday.
For more on Thursday’s discussion, the matrix and budget can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-EncampmentDiscussion.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]