Families of SJI and San Juan County are in dire need of our help | Guest Column

By Diane Kinnaman Hollis

Dear San Juan Journal, San Juan Islander, SJ Community Foundation, Joyce Sobel Family Resource Center, San Juan County Council, SJ Board of Realtors, and all residents of San Juan Island and neighboring islands,

I am writing in an effort to get collaborators for the production of an immediate tiny shelter village to be built for a dire urgent need for our island’s homeless community.

It has come to my attention repeatedly but most earnestly right now, as I have been made aware of multiple families living in a tent or inhospitable trailer situations. The families of SJI and San Juan County are in dire need of our help now.

I am imploring that action be taken immediately with all of our collaborated efforts. Successful models are in place in neighboring Jefferson County.

We have workers and families with young children here living in tents, etc. in unsafe, inhospitable environments. Everyone is aware by now or should be made aware, of the housing crisis for our island workers and families. We know that crime and addiction happen when people are not provided with basic human needs.

Our people in need are our co-workers and neighbors, and you likely know them too but do not realize their dire needs. They provide you and me our services while trying to survive, unable to thrive! We can do better as a community and we can do so in an immediate way. We simply must do so.

If we can see in real-time how an effort to create space, build infrastructure, and build businesses occurs every day globally at record pace, we most certainly should get our community together in force, to provide for those in immediate need to get a leg up until more affordable housing is created on San Juan Island- and all islands.

Please help them now. There is no time to waste. Winter storms are here! Think about how you would feel surviving in gale-force winds in a tent. I cannot sleep at night knowing these families also are sleepless, just trying to survive, getting to work and school. My two teenagers and I experienced homelessness in 2016. Opportunities for survival here were non-existent for us besides an off-the-grid cabin, until I got a leg up and we were the lucky ones, not resorting to tent living. If you’ve read this far, you clearly care, and you now realize the need. The question is, will you please help?

We need partnerships of all entities including realtors, innovators, and hard workers. There are real estate lots out there in town but so many already have plans. We need collective involvement.

We must find a way and lead by example, for all of our islands’ inhabitants, as Jefferson County has.

Please click on the link below or go to Jefferson County’s community-build.org.

Please let me know how you see a collective effort initiating this purpose. I will be pounding the pavement and happy to share my research findings with whoever is interested. Let’s make this happen in San Juan County for the people!