Everett soup kitchen still in limbo

EVERETT — The people who ran a kitchen devoted to feeding the homeless are ready to get back to cooking.

They said they’re stuck in limbo after the city shut them down two weeks ago, citing concerns the kitchen would be difficult to get out of if there were a fire.

“My heart is to feed the people,” said Kila Leapaga Sr., a pastor who runs A Ray of Hope Mission with his wife, Irene. “I don’t know why they don’t let me do my thing.”

The city didn’t know about the mission until inspectors got a look at the kitchen, located in the basement of a nearly century-old building at 2914 Hewitt Ave. They then told the building’s owner to shut it down, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

The city is waiting for one more inspection to determine what, exactly, the violations are in the building, she said. The city hasn’t scheduled another inspection, but it should happen sometime in the next two weeks.

None of the inspectors who saw the space were available to comment on what caused the city to call the space hazardous, she said.

David Hall, an attorney with the city, said that although there are two exits, they may not be acceptable if one of them is a rickety set of stairs, for instance.

Hall said the city has a legal obligation to make sure anyone who visits the kitchen is safe.

Ideally, anyone who starts a new venture should contact the city to make sure all the permits and requirements are met, Reardon said. That didn’t happen in this instance.

There are so many codes and requirements, it often takes more than one city worker to help shepherd people through the process, said Kirk Brooks, a building official for the city.

“No one here is a mastermind of all the codes,” he said. “We have to rely on multiple individuals.”

In the mean time, the folks at the mission continue to give boxes of food out. They’re also searching for a new home.

That’s tough, since the space they were using cost $300 a month, Leapaga said.

“We’re still waiting,” he said. “I need to feed these people.”

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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