This information is drawn from the City of Olympia’s website about the numbers of homeless persons in the community, and some of the city’s programs that exist or are being developed. The link to the city’s website provides excellent background on the homeless crisis in Thurston County:
Homelessness, information on issues and responses, Jan. 2019
OUUC is a member of the newly formed Faith Alliance for Tiny Houses (FAITH), bringing together faith communities interested in building and/or siting tiny houses at their congregations.
Tiny House Ad Hoc Committee report, Dec. 19, 2018
The OUUC Ad Hoc Report on Tiny Homes was prepared and presented to the Faith in Action Ministry Leadership Team in December. It was accepted by the Leadership Team with the recommendation that it be presented to the congregation for discussion.
Homelessness, FAITH Alliance, Jan. 20, 2019
In recent months, both Thurston County and the City of Olympia declared homelessness a public health emergency, spurring responses from government, non-profit organizations, and faith communities to address this crisis.
OUUC has long been involved in programs to alleviate the harsh conditions of people living on the streets, in tent encampments, and in shelters. Here are some of those programs.
INTERFAITH WORKS OVERNIGHT SHELTER
For the past four years, OUUC members have provided food and hosts each third and fourth Wednesday at the shelter located in the First Christian Church in downtown Olympia.
Each night four to six volunteer hosts assist Shelter employees, and/or serve the nightly dinner to 41 overnight residents, as well as 15 to 20 non-residents who come to the Shelter parking lot each night. The dinners include four or five main dishes and side dishes. Between 2,912 and 3,172 meals are served each year by 208 to 312 hosts.
To volunteer to support OUUC’s work at the Overnight Shelter, contact Jo Ann Young or Billie Williams.
Each month a team of OUUC volunteers prepares and serves a meal at Olympia’s Community Kitchen at the Salvation Army, serving up to 200 guests a night in the dining area. Want to help peel, chop, cook and serve a wonderful dinner? Contact Karmel Shields.
SUPPLIES FOR THE HOMELESS
Blankets, clothing, toiletries, first aid supplies, and food are regularly collected at OUUC, for those living in encampments or visiting the Care Center in downtown Olympia. Operated by Interfaith Works and Providence St. Peter, the Care Center offers a warm place during the day, where guests can take showers, do laundry, and connect with assistance programs. Supplies also go to Interfaith Works Overnight Shelter, Salvation Army, and Union Gospel Mission for their guests.
A box to receive your donation of blankets or other supplies is in the Commons, near the Faith in Action kiosk.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMS SERVING THE HOMELESS
Each year several OUUC programs provide funds to the shelters and services serving the homeless.
BOOKS, BROWNIES, AND BEANS
The annual fabulous one-day book sale, complete with a cabaret of musical entertainment, fresh coffee and brownies has, for several years, benefited programs serving homeless individuals and families. All proceeds from the sale go to the recipients; in recent years they have included Community Youth Services shelter, Sidewalk, Interfaith Works Homeless Programs, and Family Support Services. For several years proceeds supported OUUC’s now-closed affiliated family shelter, Out of the Woods. Want to help with this wonderful event? Contact Kent Canny.
Read about the history of the book sale here: BBB History.
SHARE THE PLATE
One-half of all contributions given in each Sunday’s offering that are not designated as church pledges go to a nonprofit in the community. Many of those organizations, including the Free Dental Clinic the Free Medical Clinic, and the Food Bank serve very low-income individuals in our community, including the homeless. Approximately $12,000 to $16,000 is distributed each year to those agencies that have applied to be part of OUUC’s Share the Plate program. Your organization may qualify! Contact Eric Felch.
In addition to programs to meet the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness, several OUUC members are working with the City of Olympia and with other faith communities to alleviate the housing crisis and help people move from the streets and unmanaged tent encampments into structures that offer more privacy and permanence. OUUC volunteers are joining others to build Tiny Houses that will be situated on city property and will be staffed by persons from LIHI, the Low-Income Housing Institute.
An Ad Hoc Committee on Tiny Houses has prepared a report with recommendations for next steps; informational meetings to include members of the community, as well as the congregation, are being scheduled to provide an opportunity for questions and comments on the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendations.
The Conestoga Hut provides another type of transitional housing.
The huts, with front porches and doors that lock, a bed frame, mattress, window, and space for storage, provide a temporary home where people can find stability while trying to find permanent housing. Several congregations in Eugene, Oregon have hosted the huts and their residents on church property for several years, and their experience informs how Olympia congregations might respond.
Currently, OUUC is hosting a hut in its parking lot so members and visitors can see how it is constructed, and what it can provide for its occupant.
OUUC has started to build tiny homes.