Overnight, emergency shelter approved in Snoqualmie
October 19, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Despite neighbor concerns, the Snoqualmie hearing examiner approved a temporary overnight shelter for youths, and it opens Oct. 22.
Friends of Youth, based in Redmond, is the primary provider of housing to homeless youth on the Eastside, said Terry Pottmeyer, CEO of the group, before Snoqualmie’s hearing examiner Oct. 8.
She said the organization has been offered a $60,000 grant to open an overnight shelter for three months.
The shelter is to operate from 8:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Organizers had proposed that it serve up to eight homeless 18- to 24-year-olds at Friends of Youth’s existing counseling building at 7972 Maple Ave. S.E. in Snoqualmie’s historic downtown district. Ron McConnell, the hearing examiner, in his Oct. 16 ruling, limited that number to six.
Pottmeyer told McConnell at the public hearing that there has been a significant increase in homelessness among young people 11- to 24-years-old over the past couple of years in Washington, and a lack of resources has created challenges, especially in the Snoqualmie Valley.
She said that during the three months of operating an emergency overnight shelter, Friends of Youth would be able to ascertain the need for services in the area. They could connect young people to needed services — such as mental health counseling — and provide a safe and stable environment until they can be transitioned to long-term housing.
But seven people who live and work in the area expressed concerns about safety and possible increased crime to the hearing examiner.
In McConnell’s report, he noted that the neighbors did not provide evidence to indicate that the proposal to provide temporary housing at the site would result in increased crime or decreased property value.
One of the neighbors who spoke at the public hearing was Snoqualmie City Councilman Charles Peterson.
He wanted to make sure that if the proposed shelter were approved, that it was only approved for the 90 days of operation, which McConnell did do in his report.
Peterson said Oct. 18 that he’d spoken to a couple neighbors about the hearing examiner’s decision to approve the shelter.
“We’re happy that he listened to that concern,” he said. “Ninety days will give the neighbors and the city a chance to evaluate the program. And we’re happy that there will only be six beds instead of eight. We’re willing to watch it and see how it goes for 90 days.”