Legislative and Governmental Forum Highlights Need for Continued Cooperation.

Cascade Mental Health Care’s sixth mental health forum this week was highlighted the efforts of many local and regional orgnaizations addressing homelessness, substance abuse, mental health, and the lack of housing.

I want to thank the amazing staff at Cascade Community Health and all the presenters this year. I was honored to join the panel for my fifth year, said Peter Abbarno, Centralia City Councilmember and local attorney. Our community, like many, is facing many homelessness issues. It is reassuring to see the cooperation and hope in the room of presenters- from faith based organizations to government agencies.

Peter Abbarno

The panel included: Centralia City Councillor Peter Abbarno, 20th legislative district Representatives Richard DeBolt and Ed Orcutt, 20th legislative district Senator John Braun, 19th legislative district representative Brian Blake, Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza, and, County Commissioner Edna Fund.

Centralia City Councilmember Peter Abbarno with 20th Legislative District Representative Richard DeBolt.

A message needs to be sent to Olympia and Seattle that cookie cutter one sized fits all programs do not work in Lewis County. Rural communities in Southwest Washington, outside of the Puget Sound, have different problems that require local control and local solutions, added Abbarno. Our local volunteers and treatment providers know the clients and community and should have greater flexibility to address the needs of the most vulnerable in the community.

Peter Abbarno

According to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress and the State of Washington Homeless Housing Crisis Response System Strategic Plan, the fastest growing population of homeless is children, And, by 2024, the number of homeless seniors will double.

There were 11 speakers from various organizations including the Hub City Mission- Bethel Church, Cascade Community Health Care, Twin City Transit, United Way, and Providence Centralia Hospital.

Homelessness will not be solved by housing alone. Homelessness has many causes that need to be addressed in their totality. I look forward to working on these issues and programs that measure success NOT by how much money is spent, but how many families are lifted out of poverty and end the intergenerational cycle.

Peter Abbarno

If you missed the forum, the video from Cascade Community Health is below:

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