A decision this week by Interfaith Works to jettison its plan for a winter warming center for Olympia-area homeless people was a tough decision, and a disappointment.
But it was a pragmatic call by a group that has truly been stepping up to face and solve South Sound’s homelessness troubles when others have not.
The Olympia City Council tentatively earmarked about $100,000 for the project, which would have operated during the cold-weather months starting in mid-December. But matching funds were not forthcoming from Thurston County commissioners, the Lacey City Council or the Tumwater City Council.
Backers also lacked a location for the center after last year’s site in the north-downtown of Olympia drew criticisms from Mayor Cheryl Selby and neighboring businesses.
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Interfaith Works, an interdenominational nonprofit, has had its hands full operating its own walk-up overnight shelter for single adults, which factored into its decision, according to Meg Martin, manager of homeless programs for the group.
The decision puts more pressure on other organizations that provide services to homeless people in the community, including the recently expanded Union Gospel Mission. But it frees Interfaith Works a bit to support the soon-to-open Providence Community Care Clinic, which Providence St. Peter Hospital and its foundation are opening downtown as a clearing house for services for those in need.
Even so, our community still needs a permanent, around-the-clock shelter. Leaders across our county need to regroup and look carefully at how to support 24-hour shelter options advocated by Interfaith Works, including a warming center for Thurston County.
GLIMMER OF HOPE?
President Donald Trump broke ranks with his own party’s majorities in Congress this week, endorsing a Democratic minority plan to raise the U.S. debt limit, provide emergency aid to survivors of Tropical Storm Harvey’s wrath. This move delays debt and budget deadline to December, sparing the government from a possible shutdown.
It’s hard to imagine Trump making common cause with Democratic leaders on many issues. But this step — which apparently will be supported by Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate and House — is sensible. Some Republicans were talking about using the debt limit issue as a way to carve out cuts in other programs to pay for storm damage in the Houston area.
A humanitarian crisis is nothing to play politics over — even if more than 20 Texas Republicans voted against emergency aid in 2013 after Superstorm Sandy blasted the Eastern Seaboard. The nation’s latest, and worst, natural disaster in Houston is nothing to mess around with.