In mid-2018, the City of Auburn entered into a partnership with the Auburn Food Bank to provide day services to the homeless at the Ray of Hope Shelter on the Valley Cities property in north Auburn.
However, with the need for homeless services continuing to increase dramatically each year, the city has since added an overnight shelter, the Sundown, and partnered with the food bank to provide services.
In 2019, Auburn hired Kent Hay to be the city’s homeless awareness coordinator.
On January 19, Auburn City Council extended its agreements with the Auburn Food Bank to continue providing services at the two modular shelters until December 31, 2022.
When asked if there had been an appraisal or performance review of the food bank before Tuesday’s vote, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said no.
“Is there an official assessment that I can give you a copy of?” No. It’s a matter of how many people we serve, and how that complements what Kent [Hay] made. We agreed that at this point having the food bank providing these services for Ray of Hope and Sunset is the right way to move forward, ”Backus said.
Yes, Backus admitted, there have been a number of complaints about the shelters from some users who resent the rules and constraints, but she said complaints were inevitable.
“Accountability is the key to everything we believe in in our work with homeless people in the community,” Backus said. “I say it all the time: I believe in accountability at the government level, at the donor level, at the service provider level and at those who receive services. Hold someone accountable and not just be ready to say, “Okay, whatever you want to do,” some people are going to have a hard time with that.
The Ray of Hope and Sundown will continue in their respective modular buildings until the Auburn Food Bank can relocate to the future Auburn Consolidated Resource Center on the former Sports Page Tavern site on Auburn Way North. While construction of the center and the relocation of the food bank have been delayed by the pandemic, Backus said, the resource center in its oldest form is expected to be about 30 days away from opening.
“There won’t be a lot of physics there at this point, other than tables and chairs and laptops, so Kent [Hay] can connect homeless people with services and resources and ultimately get them into permanent housing, ”Backus said.
King County District Court and the City of Auburn are still working on community court details once a week at the Consolidated Resource Center, but Backus estimated it should be in operation by Q1 or Q2. from 2021.
The court represents a chance for the participants to avoid the difficulties of the ordinary court system, as all the resources necessary to meet the conditions of the community court – for example, to perform a drug and alcohol assessment – will be at the center just steps from the courtroom. By fulfilling these conditions, one can “graduate” from community court without the offense cutting into its case, Backus said.