One of the mantras for critics and watchdogs of government is a constant demand for efficiency. There is no shortage of examples in which taxpayer money is used in a haphazard manner that violates the trust of the public and requires additional expenditures to fix.
All of which is a way to point out the sound logic behind the Bridgeview Education and Employment Resource Center that is taking shape in the Vancouver Heights neighborhood. With broad support from the Clark County legislative delegation, particularly Democrat Sharon Wylie and Republican Paul Harris, the project is a sensible approach to providing services for those who need them.
Ground was broken this week on Bridgeview, a $3.9 million public-private project that is scheduled to be a one-stop outlet for services for low-income households. WorkSource, Goodwill Job Connections, and Lighthouse Credit Union are planning to have permanent space at the 8,500-square-foot facility, and 25 other services have committed to having a presence in the building. “This particular project is easy to love,” Wylie said. “It uses the best practices and the best of our community to help people become self-sufficient, to connect the community resources to the people who need them in a way that’s efficient and effective.”
With that, Wylie touched upon an important foundation for effective government services — helping people become self-sufficient. The goal for any project must be to create services that diminish in importance over time because they are effective, rather than to create programs that entrench dependency.
Bridgeview takes a step toward that goal by centrally locating services and, therefore, making them more accessible. Bridgeview has been helping to connect citizens with services since 2012, but that often entails having them crisscross the city to reach a variety of outlets. The resource center will provide educational programs, employment information, computer accessibility, and health care assistance in one place. As Jan Wichert, executive director of Bridgeview, told The Columbian’s Editorial Board earlier this year, “At a minimum, people could find out what resources are available.”
Equally important is the location of the center at 505 Omaha Way, a couple blocks from the intersection of Mill Plain Boulevard and Andresen Road. It rests within the Vancouver Housing Authority’s Skyline Crest housing complex and abuts a Boys & Girls Club, bringing services to the people who need them.
While local representatives have effectively sold the importance of the facility to their colleagues in Olympia, the project still is awaiting some needed funding. The Legislature’s capital budget — which includes $1.2 million for Bridgeview — was held up by an impasse involving an important water-rights issue and was not considered by lawmakers before this year’s session was adjourned.
We encourage legislative leaders to continue to seek a solution on the water-rights conundrum and for Gov. Jay Inslee to call lawmakers back to work when an agreement is reached. Fixing the water-related Hirst decision and then passing a capital budget are two ways to boost local economies throughout the state.
In the meantime, the Bridgeview project represents a wise expenditure of government resources. The organization has a strong track record, and consolidating services will be beneficial to its mission and to citizens throughout Clark County.