Every night in our community more than 1,000 people sleep in doorways, on cold concrete sidewalks, and in wooded areas around Thurston County.
This public health emergency, recognized by government officials across the county, is challenging for those needing shelter and for our community. A key part of addressing that challenge has been Interfaith Works’ dedication to meeting emergency shelter needs and commitment to long-term solutions. When those with the greatest need among us thrive, we all do better.
The Interfaith Works Shelter is currently housed in the basement of First Christian Church in downtown Olympia. The church has provided wonderful hospitality for the shelter residents and staff over the past five years, but we agree that the space is not adequate to provide the necessities, safety, and support our guests need. Rooms are small and cramped, windows are few, and the plumbing is old and broken.
Despite the excellent quality of care provided by our staff and volunteers, the building was not designed for this purpose. In order to heal, those we serve need the sense of dignity and quality of life that a well-designed, long-term facility could provide.
History and Experience
Our average shelter guest is 51 years old.
Over 60% have permanent physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, serious mental health issues or substance abuse challenges.
40% are long-term shelter residents because of the lack of permanent supportive housing in Thurston County.
Without a new facility they will remain on housing wait lists for years to come. In the best case scenario their issues compound and they move into skilled nursing homes; in the worst case scenario, they pass away.
We mourn the death of a shelter guest every 6 months on average.
We need to do better, and with your help, we will.