Editorial: Cheers for a New Housing Venture
Speaking of constructive projects by local activists, a coalition of folks is working to create a transitional housing and community center for homeless people in an empty office building.
The Smith Building is owned by the City of Olympia and sits near the old city hall. It is empty because the city employees there have moved to the new city hall. The idea so far is to sell it to Catholic Community Services for one dollar, and for CCS to operate the center with participation of other local groups.
Other folks involved in making this a reality include Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, Interfaith Works, Community Youth Services, Safe Place, Sidewalk, the Salvation Army, the Thurston County prosecutor’s office — and several people active in Occupy Olympia.
We’re thrilled to see Occupy Olympia engaged in this effort. It is a great example of applying the 99% agenda to local issues, and it may well create stronger relationships between more radical activists and more establishment community leaders. If that happens, we’re far less concerned that the activists will be co-opted and far more optimistic that the establishment will be co-opted into helping achieve pieces of the 99% agenda.
Furthermore, this transitional housing project is an excellent use of public resources. There is a bit of a glut of office space right now, so selling the building isn’t going to bring in much money or boost the local economy. Getting homeless people off the streets both helps them and also eases complaints from downtown business owners and shoppers. And the Smith Building is located near enough to downtown to access other services, but far enough to be out of the core but yet not in a residential neighborhood. It’s a win-win-win situation.