EVERETT — A few finishing touches are still needed — appliances installed and rooms furnished — before Clare’s Place can open at the beginning of July.
When it does, the building will provide 65 apartments for chronically homeless people, those who have been without shelter for a year or more.
The facility, managed by Catholic Community Services, will operate on the Housing First model, prioritizing permanent housing with low barriers for entry. Once people arrive there, service providers connect residents with treatment and other assistance programs.
“People can’t get healthy outside,” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said. “Getting a roof over their head is the most important first step.”
The project, on Berkshire Drive in the Glacier View neighborhood in the central part of the city, will house those who frequently use emergency and hospital services and police and fire resources. Many of these people are living with conditions such as mental illness, addiction or other medical issues.
“If you wait for them to get sober or get mental health treatment, they are going to die outside,” said Sarah Jayne Barrett, director of housing for Catholic Community Services for Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.
On the first floor of the four-story building, a large community room opens to an outdoor space with gazebos, raised garden beds and a dog area.
The building also will host a medical suite staffed by Community Health Center of Snohomish County, Barrett said. The organization provides medical and dental care to low-income and uninsured children and adults.
Ten of the units are one-bedrooms, and the rest will be studios. Each has its own bathroom and kitchen. Five of the apartments will be reserved for veterans.
Clare’s Place is expected to fill quickly.
There are 52 people slated to move in when the building opens, according to Alison Ahlgrim, housing program manager for the building.
The building will be staffed 24 hours a day. A phone number will be available for neighbors to contact any time.
Residents will be placed in the building through the county’s coordinated entry system. Tenants will pay a third of their income in rent, the rest will be funded through a project-based housing voucher.
In June, the Everett City Council approved a $200,000 grant to support the residential counseling and the around-the-clock staffing. The city also donated the land with the stipulation that it be used for low-barrier housing for at least 50 years.
A $439,000 grant from Snohomish County will also help pay for case management for residents in 2019.
Franklin said that to get healthy people need a roof over their head, so they can enter treatment and go to the doctor.
“You can’t do that when you are living outside, when you are focused on surviving the night,” she said.
Supportive housing is being recognized as a national best practice in reaching people who are chronically homeless, Franklin said.
Catholic Community Services, which operates facilities throughout Western Washington, has already seen success at Sebastian House providing supportive housing to veterans. There, the goal is to get residents sheltered and keep them sheltered, said residential counselor Jim Rhodes.
“It’s a challenge coming from homelessness to get into housing. And in some cases it’s harder to keep it,” he said.
He helps residents with paperwork for disability compensation and finding transportation to medical appointments or errands. He also connects veterans with recreational activities or helps them chart a path toward an individual goal.
“It’s great to be able to sit down with someone and say: ‘What would you really like to do?,” Rhodes said. “It’s different with each person.”
Want to help?
Clare’s Place is looking for donations to furnish rooms. There is also a registry at Target and Walmart to select specific items for residents. Visit bit.ly/ClaresPlace or call 425-374-6318 to contribute.