What to do? They say the community can't decide what to do with the homeless in Kent. It's a growing problem for downtown businesses yet they need to go somewhere. They will come from Seattle once the word gets out. It's inevitable and the problem will be more than the city can handle.
As I see it, there is more to the problem than what is presented. On one hand you have the people who want help, who want the resources and will participate in programs that will help them get back on their feet. Then there are the ones who don't want to get help, use resources or get on their feet. In the second category you find the substance abusers and even the mentally ill. 
History has proven that people who want help and have fallen on hard times don't want others to know they are in the situation they're in. And, to live in a shelter with the group who don't care about improving their life, does not sit well for their stability. There is safety and self respect;  they are trying to rise above the problems they're in, not swim in the muck while trying to raise their heads.

This is a problem that needs at the very least two separate facilities. You simply cannot put all these groups in one building and think this is going to solve the issue. It won't. Many people who need a place like the one being proposed for downtown Kent will not go. You just cannot make this work. 
 It's like the story of the good, straight A student who normally gets good grades and causes no trouble. But now the student is failing his classes, ignored by the teacher, not getting the attention needed because the teacher was too busy dealing with the problem kids who didn't care. The kid who needed one kind of help failed because that kind of attention was given to a child who needed a different type of attention, not what the teacher gave. The other child needed resources that were fitting to his needs, not what was being given.
That's what is happening here. There needs to be more options. Most people want to help in one way or another, that was clear at the Homeless forum tonight. But, it's not as simple as one building for all people to serve. They really need to come back to the table and come up with another plan. The city will suffer if they don't. Businesses will close down and all the work that's been put into uplifting the City will be a waste. 
You can argue that they aren't dangerous... okay, fine, but it's uncomfortable for the general public and that is what counts. They will take their business elsewhere. They don't want to sit around and wait to see if they will be attacked, harassed, etc., they just want to enjoy a few hours shopping or taking care of business.
I worked in a small coffee drive-thru where the homeless, drugs and alcohol abusers, prostitutes and panhandlers hung-out. I watched business sink. I saw customers drive right on through parking lots just because they didn't want to deal with the panhandlers who would swarm the cars if they parked. It was bad. Police came in a lot but it was too late. Business went downhill.
I see that could happen in Kent if not planned carefully. I too want to help. It makes me sad to see people hurting and in need. I hate seeing people go through rough times and most the time they just need a break. I get that. I want to be one of those who makes a difference in the lives of people to get their life back. I was once in a desperate state and it took me a very long time to feel normal again. So, I have a soft spot for desperation and the needy. Because of that I feel I can speak on this issue and say; this is not the answer. More conversation with better solutions need to be brought to the table. Planning for the people not just collectively, but separate needs for the different groups. That's the only way this can work. Identify the groups, find their needs and go from there.

Tamara Lombard
Executive Director