Veterans’ group airs concerns on neighborhood disturbances from nearby supportive housing


Representatives of the Martin Way Veterans of Foreign Wars post shared their concerns regarding the disturbances they are experiencing caused by residents at the nearby Unity Commons shelter. 

During the Olympia City Council meeting held Tuesday, April 9, VFW Post 318 Commander Crystal Beeler and Auxiliary Treasurer Darcy McGardee asked the city to provide better oversight and enforcement at Unity Commons to curb illegal activities within the area.

McGardee and Beeler mentioned numerous instances of drug use, public urination and trespassing on their property by individuals from Unity Commons.

“We are constantly having people doing things that are just unacceptable. Even though we have private property signs everywhere, we watch them walk right out of the building, come over to our property, and urinate,” said McGardee, who took the podium during the public comment to share her frustration on the issue.

McGardee also narrated witnessing drug deals from right outside her kitchen window. When reported to law enforcement, she said the individuals were told to leave rather than face arrest.

“I thought we were promised oversight of these buildings, and we don’t see oversight,” McGardee said.

VFW Post 318 Commander Crystal Bueller expressed concerns that ongoing safety issues in the area could force them to shut down and discontinue operations that give services to veterans.
VFW Post 318 Commander Crystal Bueller expressed concerns that ongoing safety issues in the area could force them to shut down and discontinue …

Bueller echoed McGardee’s concerns as she shared details of an incident where a woman parked on their lot for two hours while passed out with a needle in her arm. Emergency responders who were contacted only inquired if the person was still breathing and did not send an ambulance. 

The post commander said that ongoing issues near their property could jeopardize the VFW post’s ability to continue providing services to veterans, many of whom already struggle with trauma-related challenges like PTSD.

“They don't feel safe anymore, remarked McGardee. “They won't park on the side of our building."

McGardee proposes a community forum to discuss issues and potential solutions with neighbors regarding the problems experienced between the VFW property and Unity Commons housing location.  Councilmembers welcomed the idea.

Councilmember Gilman noted that when the city initially implemented these new housing opportunities, a formal community connections process was established through neighborhood advisory groups.

Given the issues the neighboring VFW representatives raised, he suggested that this ongoing community dialogue could have occurred more effectively.

Gilman proposed that the council receive a report evaluating whether adequate engagement with surrounding residents is still occurring at housing sites like Unity Commons.

“I would like for council to receive a report about each of the tiny house and supportive housing, permanent supportive housing, locations, how we're doing in terms of community dialogue and problem-solving because it sounds like it's not happening in that neighborhood,” Gilman concluded.

CORRECTION: April 28, 2024: We misspelled Crystal Beeler's name in the original version of this story. We regret the error. 


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  • OlyGuy

    "Gilman proposed that the council receive a report evaluating whether adequate engagement with surrounding residents is still occurring at housing sites like Unity Commons.". Wow.. so City Council dumps tax payer money into these projects and doesn't even follow up on how it's effecting the local community. It's almost like all the things they approve for homeless response is for the sake of virtue signaling with little thought to the impact. Why do residents have to carry the burden of dealing with this? This city needs new leadership, but no one votes it seems.

    Tuesday, April 16 Report this

  • cappers

    This is a terrible situation going on. We are upset this is happening to the Vets and others.

    We live right behind part of the Western Chehallis trail. The other day we were on our balcony and witnessed 2 people on the trail preparing and then smoking something out of a piece of aluminum foil.

    Reported to police and asked if they could canvass this part of the trail once in awhile just to scare off the addicts.

    We understand there are bigger problems for them to deal with and they are also most likely understaffed. The officer we talked to told us to call when we see it happening.

    In addition, we've seen human waste, people camping in the bushes and heard and seen unstable people yelling , screaming etc. Very scary. To the point we carry pepper spray we on the trail.

    Almost every morning we go along the trail to pick up garbage left behind,

    where the hub is at the corner of Karen Fraiser trail , and find pieces of burned foil , beer cans, garbage etc.

    It's very upsetting.

    Tuesday, April 16 Report this

  • Bobwubbena

    Another example where a "Community Report Card" is needed that is routinely updated with trackable data and shared with all. This Report will support an honest review of what is working, what is not, and which approach might be a "failed experiment or failed management contract" on a County wide basis. There are now many "designated hotels, new sites, old jungles and a typically relocated new site when old sites are closed" to track on the Community Report Card. Out of sight does not mean a good site is now replacing the problem. Without good data and longer-term tracking, elected officials are not being advised and held accountable for the new big expenditure or community vote. In the last five years how much has been spent? How much staff is assigned? What is the projected five-year budget for the same. Just maybe a better expenditure of budget and more "tough love" is needed to make progress on a better solution.

    Tuesday, April 16 Report this

  • FirstOtter

    It sure seems as if the vagrants, vandals and junkies get all the ''empathy" and when a home owner or business owner complains, they're accused to being unfeeling and heartless. I'm sick of this. No, I'm going to repeat it just to stymie the bleeding hearts out there, because I hear it all the time, 'it's not a crime to be homeless." Correct. It isn't a crime to be out on the street, BUT ALL THE CRIMES THEY DO ARE. The garbage, the drug use, the harassment of ordinary citizens needs to stop. I witnessed a punk in the parking lot at Walmart sitting behind the wheel of his car, the inside full of smoke, the engine running and the music blaring, and I watched him as he licked a small square of aluminum foil. He was completely obivious of me or anyone outside of his car. I was told later that drug use is not illegal. But while the junklie is in control of a car? That's not illegal??

    I'm a disabled veteran. I've seen the louts out in front of the VFW and the reps from the VFW are right. The bums are aggressive and intimidating. I don't carry a gun but I sure in heck feel as if I need to when they come up to me and give me the stink eye when I refuse to give them money, or being told "eff you".

    Not all of them are 'mentally ill." Not all of them 'are merely hungry". No, most of them are bums, kicked out of homes and shelters because they refuse to obey the rules.

    Tuesday, April 16 Report this

  • wolfmanner

    You all are right.

    Tuesday, April 16 Report this

  • AugieH

    Nowadays, virtue signaling by local politicians is the steam whistle of the progressive locomotive rolling down the track to their better world. One wishes it would just derail.

    Tuesday, April 16 Report this

  • JulesJames

    The article fails to identify the operators of Unity Commons. Are these lawless intrusions upon the neighbors caused by the 58 bed shelter operated by Interfaith Works on the ground floor? Or are some of the residents of the 65 supportive care housing units above the ones wreaking local havoc? The "supportive housing" is run by Seattle-based Low Income Housing Institute. The US Census counts the participants of both operations under "Group Quarters" -- places of residence due to a higher purpose (dorms, jails, treatment). As such, the organizations have responsibility over the individuals beyond the boundaries of the property. Unity Commons opened three years ago -- has it been a disruptive burden on its adjacent neighbors from Day #1?

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • JW

    Anyone who has driven through the area knows that Unity Commons is a hub of garbage, drugs, and crime. Just wait, they're building more!

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • MindyOrk

    Intercity Transit, also has contributed to the harassment and mistreatment of black women in our faith community. Conservatives and veterans of color are harassed by bus drivers, supervisors and the lacey transit center security personnel. While allowing our lacey community and bus system to be monopolized by drug addicts, criminals and homeless. Some are right out prison, harming children and teenagers, while riding around on the free buses. Our black conservative women in the area are harassed and mistreated on the bus and in their community. This corrupt system of protecting criminals and corrupt city workers needs to stop. Its obvious these homeless and corrupt city reps are working together to make our community unsafe and unwelcoming to veterans and conservatives. While drug addicts, criminals and homeless straight out of prison, feel very comfortable enjoying the community.

    Thursday, April 18 Report this