All Politics is Local

City’s day center proposal earns Ceci Ryan Smith’s approval

The city of Vancouver announced a new proposed day center for homeless residents Monday. The move was largely lauded by the community as a positive decision and a good location. (The center would be built in the former Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Building at 2018 Grand Blvd.)

I decided to check in with Ceci Ryan Smith — a neighborhood activist, advocate for dispersal and former chair of the Vancouver Housing Authority — to see how she felt about the announcement.

The siting of the day center is wonderful. It is only a beginning because this population is totally underserved.

For the last 26 years I have been advocating for dispersal. As we all know, there are homeless individuals and families all over Clark County. People become homeless for many different reasons. Why our community wants to discriminate and create barriers to housing, for this population is a huge failure of social policy.

For years, now the social service providers, the citizens, the government agencies have been practicing discrimination instead of integration. Take Share, for example, there is one men’s shelter, for Clark County. There is one place where 3 meals a day are served. Only one place, for the entire homeless population, in Clark County.

Hopefully this attitude might change but not quickly. Places in North County, Battle Ground have no shelter services. In fact, this will be the only day center, in Clark County — truly sad.

The Day Shelter location is a great success for the homeless population. They can access The Vine. They are across the street from a grocery store. The parking lot is big enough for ‘car camping,’ they will have a laundry, bathrooms, showers, larger food services, etc.

The shelter, it seems, earns the city a gold star. But the issue is far from resolved in Ryan Smith’s eyes.

Her next concern is fighting a proposed repeal of the Human Service Siting Ordinance, of which she was an author.

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