County are working together to hire a consultant to facilitate exploration of cost and location options for a sleep center facility.
Funding for the sleep center could come from a variety of sources, including the City, Kittitas County, state and/or federal grants and community support. Identifying and securing an appropriate site will be an important step in that process.
Homelessness is an issue that most cities, regardless of size, have been attempting to address for many years. The federal courts have decided that cities and counties cannot remove homeless persons from camping on public property unless there is adequate overnight shelter space for those individuals.
The Kittitas Valley Ministerial Association has been operating an overnight Cold Weather Shelter in Ellensburg for the past nine years, open from November to March rotating across several local churches and managed by various non-profit agencies over the years. However, this modal is not adequate to accommodate the needs of a year-round sleep center .
In 2022, both the Ellensburg (Ord. 4895, ECC 5.70) and Kittitas County (Ord. 2022-015) adopted new policies regulating public camping.
Sleep Center Purpose and Description
Some cities, such as Walla Walla and Moses Lake, have created overnight “sleep centers” to provide such shelter space. Typically, these sleep centers are located on vacant lots with units, such as small sheds or Conestoga-style huts, which can house one to two persons depending on the situation. There are usually mobile administration and shared restroom/shower facilities onsite, as well.
In addition to providing a safe sleeping space protected from the elements, the goal of these facilities is to provide information and connections for “wrap around” services for guests to address their employment, behavioral health, and substance abuse issues. The City and its partners hope to utilize the sleep center to help transition folks experiencing homelessness to more permanent housing solutions.
Requirements for Sleep Center Property
Early plans estimate the need to house up to 25 individuals and a site would have the following features:
• Fully fenced on all sides with security lighting and cameras
• Overnight security personnel to ensure safety of guests and surrounding community • Insulated sleeping sheds (no electricity or plumbing) with windows, cots, and
• Storage containers for personal property (only clothes, personal hygiene products
and similar items allowed in sheds)
• Limited check-in times (typically between 6-8 p.m.) and checkout by approximately
7 a.m.; check-in consists of ensuring no weapons or illegal drugs are brought into the facility. No admittance after check-in unless accompanied by law enforcement, and no in-and-out privileges once checked in
• Monitored use of shared restroom/shower facilities