Home improvement

  • Brooke Fisher<br>Enterprise editor
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 7:52am

SHORELINE — Some rooms are the color of mint, others a light peach, but all 25 bedrooms at the near-complete Compass Veterans Center have windows offering future occupants a glimpse at the streets and cars where they once lived.

“It is an honor for any veteran to go there,” said veteran Brian Worden. “The Shoreline facility is going to be a godsend.”

Worden, 47, who was homeless for more than a year, is the perfect candidate to live at the new center. However, he recently obtained permanent housing after living for a year in another transitional house owned by the Compass Center.

“Without the help of the Compass Center there is no way I could have done it,” Worden said. “I thank the Lord every night.”

The new transitional shelter, located at 1313 N. 200th Street, across from Costco, is scheduled to open at the end of July and will house 25 homeless men and women. The $3.1 million center will serve veterans from both King and Snohomish counties for up to two years. Each occupant will get their own room, but will share a bathroom, kitchen and communal areas.

“Shoreline was friendly; it was hard to find a parcel of land big enough, and an area that would let us build,” said Paul Porter, Compass Center housing coordinator. “It had to be acessible to businesses and stores; it’s got everything right there.”

The Compass Center is a Lutheran organization that provides services for the homeless, with the objective of eventually helping them obtain permanent housing. The organization owns seven transitional houses in Seattle, two of which are specifically for veterans. Unlike the new Shoreline facility that will house 25 people, the other two facilities are residential homes, with seven occupants each.

While living at the 13,500 square foot Shoreline facility, veterans will receive life skills services, case management, therapy and employment training. All residents must abstain from drugs and alcohol during their stay.

There are three stages of housing the organization attempts to get homeless people to progress through, said Porter. These are emergency shelter, transitional housing, such as the Shoreline facility, and eventually permanent housing.

Porter enourages the men to stay at the emergency shelters in order to stabilize. Once men show they are willing to commit, then they can be moved to transitional shelters. Porter has recently conducted interviews for the Shoreline facility, and has selected 15 veterans. Twenty-one of the 25 rooms are for men, and four are for females.

“It is a bit of a reward system,” Porter said about the move to transitional shelters, “by building on their good record.”

Once the facility officially opens, Porter will still continue to conduct interviews, in order to ensure there are no empty beds.

Metro King County Council member Carolyn Edmonds, who represents District 1, remembers attending the groundbreaking ceremony in July. Edmonds first heard about the project when serving in the state Legislature, and said she advocated for the facility at the time, although funding was not obtained.

“It is very needed,” said Edmonds. “We have no housing for single adult men in the north end.”

This is a particularly valuable project, she said, because it combines housing with rehabilitation, which are both needed for success.

“I think as a society we would be embarassed if we knew how many homeless are veterans,” Edmonds said.

The Veterans Administration is funding $1 million, King County $1 million and the state $800,000, with the remaining balance secured through private fundraising.

A celebration ceremony and open house is scheduled 10 a.m. to noon Friday, July 2 at the Compass Veterans Center

To help furnish the new center, community members are invited to access the Compass Veteran’s Center Wish List registration at Bon Macy’s by visiting www.macys.com, choosing the wish list option, and entering info@compasscenter.org in the search request. For questions or problems accessing the list, call Natalie Whaley in the development office at 206-357-3120.