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News / Clark County News

Vancouver homeless resources manager steps down

News comes as Share plans to end operation of Navigation Center Jan. 31

By Calley Hair, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 23, 2020, 5:36pm

Jackie St. Louis, Vancouver’s first homeless resources manager, is leaving his position.

In an email sent to members of the city council on Wednesday, City Manager Eric Holmes wrote that St. Louis had been struggling to relocate his family to Vancouver from the Puget Sound area, where he’d previously served as an outreach coordinator for the city of Seattle.

“Jackie shared with me that over the last several months, it has become clear to him that the impacts to his family associated with relocation are simply too great,” Holmes wrote. “I appreciate Jackie’s contributions to the city’s efforts to establish a homeless resources program.”

St. Louis declined to comment further on his departure, referring inquiries to Holmes’ letter.

St. Louis’ last day will be Feb. 14. He had occupied the role — a brand new position at City Hall created in response to the city’s escalating homelessness crisis — for about six months.

Carol Bua, Vancouver’s communications director, said the city plans to replace St. Louis.

“I would assume that the recruitment to fill the position should be going out shortly,” Bua said.

A major component of St. Louis’ job was overseeing the Navigation Center, a day shelter for people experiencing homelessness near the intersection of Grand and Fourth Plain boulevards. The shelter, which opened in November 2018, helps an average of 99 people per day access basic services including laundry, showers and housing resources.

The center is operated by Share, a local homelessness nonprofit — at least, for another week. Share’s executive director, Diane McWithey, announced almost three months ago that the group was ceasing its involvement with the Navigation Center, with a final drop date set for Jan. 31.

After Share’s announcement, staff from Vancouver’s Parks and Recreation department have been stepping in to take a more hands-on role at the day center. There are usually two parks staffers on-site at any given time, along with the usual security and Share employees.

St. Louis’ duties included overseeing and facilitating that transition. He’s leaving his role two weeks after Share vacates the day center entirely.

In the search for a new operator to run the Navigation Center, the city sent out a request for proposals on Dec. 19. The city held a pre-bid meeting and tour of the Navigation Center last week, mandatory for those interested in operating the shelter, and six organizations attended, Bua said.

The application period closes on Jan. 29.

As of Thursday, no potential service providers had submitted applications, St. Louis said.

Columbian staff writer