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Homeless Hotel Opens in Lacey

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Up and Running

The former Lacey Days Inn is now called Maple Court, the latest property converted into a homeless hotel to house people living along I-5 in #ThurstonCounty. Wednesday afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) and city leaders from #Olympia, #Lacey, and #Tumwater showed up for the ribbon cutting ceremony. So far, 16 men and women along with their pets are now in this temporary shelter.

More homeless people from various encampments on WSDOT properties will be filling up this place in the coming weeks as part of the Right of Way Initiative. Up to 125 will be staying here. It will be run by the Low Income Housing Institute (@LIHIhousing,) known for it’s “tiny house” villages. This facility will have 24/7 staff, case workers, and drug use will not be allowed in public spaces. What happens behind closed doors is another story. But LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee says meth pipes, needles, or fentanyl smoking supplies will not be given out as part of it’s “harm reduction” approach. Some “housing first” facilities like DESC (@DESCSeattle) do indeed give out these supplies to residents.

Lee says the goal here in Lacey is to get people out of this temporary situation as quickly as possible and into permanent housing. They will also provide care workers for mental health issues and drug addiction. However, no one is required to take this help. Only when the resident is ready. LIHI also plans to work closely with Lacey Police and does not expect serious problems to spill out into the community. We shall see.

By the way, I had a quick exchange with Governor Inslee. I wanted to know why there have only been 22 encampments closed on WSDOT properties since the Right of Way Initiative was introduced more than a year ago. On average, that’s less than two encampments closed each month. Is this an acceptable pace? There are still more than 2,000 encampments on WSDOT right of ways.

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.