Temporary shelters are essential part of the solution | Letter to the editor

Posted 5/19/22

Over the past two years the Jefferson County Department of Community Development planning staff has drafted revisions to the ordinance governing temporary housing facilities in the county. The …

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Temporary shelters are essential part of the solution | Letter to the editor

Posted

Over the past two years the Jefferson County Department of Community Development planning staff has drafted revisions to the ordinance governing temporary housing facilities in the county. The Planning Commission has reviewed the drafts and made recommendations to department staff.

This ordinance is now in its final form. It reflects hundreds of hours of staff time and the input from a wide range of concerned citizens. This well written and humane permanent ordinance gives us the framework for providing temporary, safe, supported, and professionally managed housing for our county’s unsheltered.

I encourage you to think about Peter’s Place in Port Hadlock and Pat’s Place in Port Townsend. These two shelter villages are examples of the kind of emergency housing supported by this ordinance. 

The alternatives are unhealthy and undesirable; camping in the woods, parks, in cars, and RVs. We all have seen enough of this.

The last count of people experiencing homelessness revealed over 120 folks without shelter, men, women, and children. We know from past experience that there are more than this. Having arbitrary limits on who can be safely housed is unrealistic. This ordinance provides the flexibility to meet the need.

Contrary to law enforcement experience at the fairgrounds tent encampment, the shelter villages have had very little, if any, need of police or sheriff contact.

Temporary shelter is not the whole answer to our county’s housing woes, but it is an essential part of the solution. People experiencing homelessness need a safe, supportive environment to regain their sense of well being in order to focus on obtaining permanent housing. This ordinance creates the structure for this to happen.

I encourage you to email the Planning Commission pcommissiondesk@jefferson.co.wa supporting the adoption of the permanent ordinance in its entirety as presented by the Department of Community Development.

Peter Bonyun
PORT TOWNSEND

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