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From Roving Homeless Encampment to Well-Designed, Perman...

From Roving Homeless Encampment to Well-Designed, Permanent Affordable Village: Quixote in Olympia, Washington

Since Camp Quixote began in February 2007, as a protest on a city-owned plot of land in downtown Olympia, it has moved from church-to-church across the city – every few months.  In 2010 Camp Quixote began to take steps to establish a permanent settlement that would provide living, community, and gardening space for the homeless. 

land development application

Since Camp Quixote began in February 2007, as a protest on a city-owned plot of land in downtown Olympia, it has moved from church-to-church across the city - every few months.  In 2010 Camp Quixote began to take steps to establish a permanent settlement that would provide living, community, and gardening space for the homeless.  The settlement, named Quixote Village, would provide much needed shelter for Olympias homeless population and help the city reach its goal of reducing homelessness by 50% by July 2015.

A site for the Village has been provided by the Thurston County Commissioners, but the light industrial zoning of the land must be changed to allow for a permanent village.   Quixote Village, with support from non-profit, Panza, is currently seeking the approval of a conditional-use permit and the city is changing its comprehensive plan to allow for the development of this unique settlement.

camp quixote encampment

According to an Olympian article written in 2011, “South Sound’s shelters, especially for women and children, are filled to capacity.”  Once constructed, Quixote will provide adequate and affordable shelter to children, their parents, as well as other adults.  To help create a safe and drug free environment residents of Quixote must abide by a strict list of rules and are selected through an application process. Residents with addiction problems are expected to undergo treatment and can be asked to leave if they do not abide by the encampment’s rules.  The Camp holds weekly meetings on Sunday evenings where they review applications and interview prospective new Camp residents.

Village Design

Two Olympia based architecture firms, KMB Design and MSGS, are providing pro bono design services to Quixote.  Together the firms hope “to create a sustainable and affordable model for low-cost housing.”  The village will have about 30 sleeping units and a shared community building. The Quixote Village design “is based on the experience of community living – a model that provides private sleeping space, and shared space for cooking, eating, and socializing.”

Are there any other cities that are adjusting zoning and building regulations to allow for the construction of permanent shelters for the homeless?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Born in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A but raised in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire and Tunis, Tunisia, Akua Nyame-Mensah holds an A.B in Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College and a Masters in City Planning (M.C.P) with a concentration in land us...

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