Northwest News

Aberdeen School Board discusses planned homeless camp near high school

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church plans to house displaced homeless campers in its parking lot starting in June, and the Aberdeen School District is concerned because of the church’s proximity to Aberdeen High School.

The church is at 111 E. Fourth St., directly across from the high school’s parking lot and only blocks away from the school itself.

The church’s decision to allow the campers to use the parking lot came after the city posted orders for a group of homeless individuals to vacate their camp on the Chehalis riverfront more than two months ago. The Revised Code of Washington allows religious organizations to host campsites for up to 90 days.

District Business Manager David Herrington and Superintendent Tom Opstad met with Pastor Val Metropoulos last week to talk about the campers’ relocation.

“We want to know how the whole process is going to take place,” Opstad said. “That’s up in the air right now. What do (the campers) need from us? What do we need to be aware of? We don’t know because it’s never really been done before in this fashion here in Aberdeen.”

The planned relocation is set to take place at the beginning of June. Only summer school faculty and staff would be at the high school during the majority of the campers’ stay.

Herrington said he supports the church’s decision to take in the campers and is hopeful the move will work for everyone involved.

“I do believe what Amazing Grace is trying to do is very important. But how do we make it work for everybody? The church is working very hard to make it work. They’re reaching out to the district, community members to find out,” he said.

The safety of students and staff at the high school is a priority for Herrington. But he said he has no reason to believe the campers will cause a problem.

“I don’t feel the campers wouldn’t be safe; I have nothing to base that on. But as part of my responsibility, it’s something I have to think about,” he said.