Mitigation Sites

Managed mitigation site vs Unmanaged encampment comparison

What is the mitigation site?

The mitigation site located at the intersection of Olympia and Franklin Streets downtown is a temporary, legal camping site that provides a level of order, safety, dignity and cleanliness. While not an ideal long-term situation, it was established to reduce human suffering and the impacts of unmanaged camping on city-owned parking lots in the downtown.

This mitigation site includes:

  • Basic hygiene services (portable toilets, potable water, garbage collection)
  • Orderly set-up (fencing, painted rows with 10x10 spaces, consistently sized tents on pallets)
  • A code of conduct and safety protocols

Beginning April 2020, the Olympia/Franklin Mitigation Site is under new management by Catholic Community Services (CCS), who staffs the site 24/7. The City and CCS are working to improve conditions, including:

  • Installing a hygiene trailer with toilets and showers; one is ADA compliant.
  • Bringing in service providers to work with clients on housing, employment, benefits and setting up appointments for substance use treatment and mental health.
  • Improving data collection and reporting.

The Olympia/Franklin mitigation site is not a permanent end state. Establishing the site was a first step to manage a growing, unsustainable and immediate situation in Downtown. The City will continue to look for more viable alternatives, and will reassess the situation every six months.

Why establish a mitigation site Downtown?

In 2018, the City was faced with the urgent need to respond to a growing concentration of unmanaged homelessness in the Downtown core and the associated public health and safety concerns.

Beyond the need to provide safer conditions for the community and homeless individuals, the City was also responding to case law established by the Ninth Circuit Court in Martin v. City of Boise in September 2018. This case law limits cities from enforcing trespass on public property.

In establishing the mitigation site, the City was trying to balance the health and safety concerns of the larger community with the limitations imposed by the Ninth Circuit Court. The City identified the City-owned parking lot at Olympia and Franklin as the most viable location for the temporary mitigation site. While the downtown core is in no way an ideal location for any sort of camping, we needed to address the immediate situation where it existed.

The City has now completed its review of the Boise case and is again moving forward with the lawful removal of unsanctioned encampments using the best practices available. Read the memo...

Questions?

Contact Homeless Response staff at 360.742.6448 or homelessness@ci.olympia.wa.us