Jefferson County to consider OlyCAP lease for homeless encampment

Rent would be $10 annually

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners will consider entering into a 42-year lease with Olympic Community Action Programs for the Caswell-Brown Village homeless encampment when they meet today.

The lease of the 28-acre site on Mill Road near the Larry Scott Trail and Port Townsend Paper Corp. would have a base rate of $10 per year.

In addition, Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) would pay any amount the county pays from fees or taxes arising from OlyCAP’s activities.

The lease would specify that OlyCAP not interfere with the Larry Scott Trail or rights of way for public roads.

To view the meeting, which will begin at 9 a.m. today with the lease discussion after 10:30 a.m., go to www.co.jefferson.wa.us and follow the links under “Quick Links: Videos of Meetings-Streaming Live.”

To join the meeting online, go to https://zoom.us/j/93777841705. To listen only, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter access code 937-7784-1705#.

OlyCAP has run the camp since Sept. 10, 2021, under a management agreement with the county. The village began as an emergency measure to accommodate campers moved from the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

OlyCAP is seeking to upgrade it to provide permanent supported housing and to expand capacity to about 50 people.

A lease agreement for at least 40 years would allow OlyCAP to gain site control and so it can apply for state funding to expand the village and serve more people in need, according to Cherish Cronmiller, OlyCAP executive director.

A septic system, electrical and water hookups and other improvements are necessary if the encampment is to decently accommodate its planned capacity of 50 people, according to OlyCAP.

Although the county allocated $1 million last year to buy the site, more is needed to improve and expand the site, OlyCAP officials have said.

OlyCAP has to have all of its documents completed for the grant by the end of August.

The Caswell-Brown Village is named for John Caswell and Victoria Brown.

Caswell, 62, was an unhoused man who died after he was exposed to the elements during a heat wave.

Brown, 23, died outside of her home at the Jefferson County fairgrounds from an overdose.

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