Letter to the Editor: Housing Alliance Consults With Community

To the Editor:

In addition to legitimate differences of approach to the plight of increasing numbers of homeless in the Walla Walla area, it has often been claimed that those involved in the new Walla Walla Alliance for theHomeless failed to consult with existing officials and agencies working on the problem before deciding to proceed with the new initiative known as Madison Park.

The latest example is this quote by the director of the Housing Authority in the September 24 Whitman Pioneer: “Everything that we’ve done prior, we’ve always had community involvement.  This idea was going through and the group that’s doing it didn’t contact any of the other housing providers. [They were] just kind of charging forward and not being inclusive in the conversation, and not sitting at the table with other providers of housing.”

To help you decide if this is true, here are individuals or agencies among others given site tours of the potential homeless day center and housing facility from May 28 to June 22, from whom we asked for advice as to needs and resources:

Nabiel Schawa, City Manager; Elizabeth Chamberlain, Development Services Director; Riley Jones, Building Official; Rick Boyd, Building Inspector; Tim Thompson, Fire Department; Harvey Crowder, County Community Health; Debbie Dumont, Human Services Manager; Noah Leavitt, Council on Homelessness; Eloise Phillips, Kay Maxfield, Diane Davis, Tam Lennox, Norm Osterman of Walla Walla County Human Services Advisory Board; Ben Norens, Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health, & staff; Renee Rooker, Kelsie Beckmeyer, WW Housing Authority; Jason Wicklund, Christian Aid Center, and staff; Ted Kohler, John Anthony, Brooke Bouchey of Blue Mountain Action Council; Christie Lieuellen, United Way; Liz McDevitt, Helpline; Tim Meliah, Catholic Charities; Dave Beebe, Veterans Center; Ron Opsal, VA Medical Center; Nancy Jacobsen, Commitment to Community; Jerry Cummins, Mayor & Housing Authority board member; city council members Jim Barrow, Dick Morgan, and Allen Pomraning, and city council member and BMAC employee Mary Lou Jenkins; Glenna Awbrey, STAR Project; Steve Moss, former BMAC director & State Housing Commission member; Chuck Fulton, retired police chief, Sherwood trustee; Punkey Adams, First Congregational Church, Sherwood trustee; David Fogarty, retired planner.

We also met with and offered tours to the full Housing Authority board and asked to meet with the full Council on Homelessness and the Interfaith Coalition on Poverty, along with other officials.

Though we didn’t specifically meet with the neighbors during that period, we are now doing so.

Daniel N. Clark, ‘65

Walla Walla