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Allen Miller has practiced law for over thirty-five years as an environmental lawyer in Olympia. He has served two terms on the Olympia School Board and Planning Commission, as Chamber of Commerce Chair, United Way President, leader of the Metropolitan Parks District initiative, and other boards.
I would work with my council colleagues to set up a compassionate 911 system where anyone could call to report a homeless person and a social worker would respond. The social worker would take the person to a homeless triage center where they would be evaluated for their individual needs for mental health, addiction, job training, etc. The person would be given a bed, meal, and entered into the social service system for treatment, and assistance off the streets. I would also make sure that the walking and biking police patrol is present to assist as needed and to help the community be and feel safe. We would increase the ability of the community to rapidly rehouse people through the use of zoning, infill with accessory units, low barrier shelters, tiny houses, habitat for humanity houses, etc. We would need to coordinate with the neighborhoods and the neighboring jurisdictions of Lacey, Tumwater, and Thurston County to make sure that homelessness is addressed on a regional basis.
The City's CDBG Program Annual Action Plan should feature a range of activities, each intended to directly or indirectly resolve homelessness and promote economic development. Funds should be used for a combined warming center and year-round center, with the potential for 24/7 facility that provides either a day center and night shelter in a single or multiple facilities. Funds should be used for housing rehabilitation projects to provide rapid rehousing. Funds should also be used for social services by providing the 911 street outreach system, referrals, and other assistance to homeless, street-dependent and mentally ill individuals in the downtown core. The City, as part of the Thurston Thrives Council, should participate in all efforts to maximize the coordination between public and private housing resources and supportive social services, with a particular emphasis on coordinated system entry and rapid re-housing throughout neighboring jurisdictions. Homelessness must end.
The City needs to maintain 216 miles of streets in Olympia. It would cost over $245 million dollars to replace all of Olympia's streets at one time. Each year, the Council needs to fund the Public Works Department for rapid pothole repair and a Pavement Preservation Program. Selected roads would then be resurfaced using a process known as chip sealing which is a cost-effective surface treatment used to extend the life of the road and provide a good driving surface. The chip sealing process involves putting down a layer of hot oil immediately followed by a layer of rock chips. After curing (about 2 weeks), the roadway is swept, sealed and new pavement markings are installed. Chip sealing is significantly more cost effective than traditional paving. For what it costs to pave one mile of road, we can chip seal about seven miles. Chip seal can extend the life of a road seven to ten years depending upon traffic. A chip seal surface improves traction for safer driving in the wet or winter.
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Downtown Olympia business owner since 2007. Served as President of the WA Veterinary Medical Association and have worked at the state and national levels to advance veterinary medicine and improve animal rights.
Homelessness in Olympia is a humanitarian crisis. The opioid epidemic, lack of adequate mental health care, as well as other compounding factors make this a complex problem, but not impossible to solve. If we can build the political will at City Hall we CAN solve it. We already know how. Rapid rehousing and Housing First programs, combined with wrap-around supportive services is the formula that's working in communities like ours all over the world.
And as we develop these new programs we have to ensure we're supporting existing programs that reduce the suffering of folks on the streets right now and engage them in the system so that when these housing programs come online we can channel folks directly into them. That means supporting the Warming Center, the Low Barrier Shelter, and the Community Care Center. Finally, a critical piece is supporting the Home Fund, which will provide financing for exactly the kind of supportive housing we need to end homelessness as we know it.
The great thing about CDBG funds is that they can be used in really creative ways. As a city, we have the flexibility to use those funds exactly as we need them. We can use a little bit of CDBG money to leverage a lot more money to fund more traditional programs, like housing and supportive services, and we can also incubate and fund innovative new programs, like the Downtown Ambassadors, the Low-Barrier Shelter, or the Warming Center.
Street - AND sidewalk - repairs should be made a clear priority. It's really as simple as doing some smart goal setting and writing it into a long range budget plan. We simply can't continue with the patchwork system we have now of chip-sealing (because it's cheap) and then constantly having to fill and refill potholes as they appear and reappear yearly. It might be cheaper today, but not in the long run. Let's do it right the first time.
As the daughter of a mom who had polio and used a wheelchair, every crack and buckle in our sidewalks look like a barrier to me. People who use mobility devices, whether it's a walker, a wheelchair, or a motorized cart, simply can not navigate many of our Downtown sidewalks. That means having to travel around the barriers or not coming Downtown at all. As a Downtown business owner, I want my neighborhood to be welcoming and accessible to everyone.