Presentation Minutes

The inability to store things can be a barrier for people moving into shelter. What storage options need to exist to make sheltering possible for more people?

Overview: People have been trying to figure out storage of homeless people’s possessions for 40 years and we’re not there yet. Much agreement that possessions need to be accessible, both in terms of proximity to where people are and ability to get to stuff when needed. Also, much agreement that storage should be connected as much as possible to where people are staying or being moved to. Large communal storage spaces may be cheaper but don’t often serve people well. Inventory tracking and infestation are issues when clothing, blankets, etc., from different people are stored together.

"The only meaningful storage solution for unsheltered people is sanctioned campsites/urban rest-stops that include secure storage."

"If a person is in "individual" housing (tent, lean to, etc.) the only appropriate move for that person is another individual housing unit like a tiny home, etc. Moving from an individual setting to a congregate setting is a downgrade in terms of privacy and control of their space."

"If people cannot get to their papers, etc., when needed they will give up since they are already in survival mode.”

Ideas about siting:

  • Use city owned storage units, use abandoned business buildings for both storage and shelter. Noted that owners of abandoned buildings can be hard to find.
  • Modular storage cubes that go with people when they move.
  • Public spaces where there are already lockers, such as county/metro parks (pools), transit centers/bus stations. These locations already have their own security, established hours and easy access.
  • Buying an existing storage unit so individuals can have storage spaces of their own.
  • Amazon-style outdoor key-coded storage units and/or mobile truck locker systems that have a scheduled route.
  • There is a program in London that seems successful in helping store personal stuff.
  • Also a successful program in LA, but it’s warehouse-like and may have access issues.
  • Idea of locating shipping containers with storage bins near where people are and hiring homeless people to manage
  • A device like a shopping cart with a lid and a hasp, or a container with wheels and a handle could provide additional storage with necessary mobility.
  • Need to ask homeless people what would work for them.

Legislation Ideas: a group of non-profits could draft a proposal to WA state Commerce and to Pierce county for purchase and renovation of an empty building that might include laundromat, storage of emergency and daily needs supplies, other things needed by outreach workers. How could legislation protect the belongings of those who cannot pay for storage.

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