Year after fire, Compass Health prepares to re-open low-income apartments, but help is needed

  • By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
  • Monday, May 2, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

An Everett apartment building that left 38 mentally ill adults homeless last year after it was heavily damaged by fire could reopen by mid-July.

Compass Health, which owns the building, expects there will be $100,000 in expenses that aren’t covered

by insurance. The nonprofit mental health organization is asking for help in outfitting the building’s 40 living units.

The nonprofit is asking churches, businesses and other organizations to provide items such as beds, bedding, dressers, kitchen items and decorations by sponsoring one of the rooms, said Tom Sebastian, Compass’ chief executive.

In May last year, a fire broke out in the Northstar apartment building in the 3300 block of Oakes Avenue.

The public responded by providing donations and gift cards to buy clothing, food, blankets and other items lost in the fire. “I can’t think of another situation in which we have received such an outpouring of support from the general community,” Sebastian said.

With Compass’ limited budget, Sebastian said he hopes the public will be willing to assist again.

Northstar opened about 15 years ago to provide housing to people diagnosed with mental illness, such as severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

It is part of the 170 housing units owned by Compass, which provides mental health services in Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan and Island counties.

At the time of the fire, 38 adults were living in the building. All escaped safely and all found alternate housing in about two months, Sebastian said.

“What I’ve heard is that most of them are very happy with their new situation and we don’t expect a great deal of them to return to the renovated building,” Sebastian said.

However, the organization has a list of 500 people waiting for housing, he said, so they don’t expect any problems finding other people to live in the Northstar apartments.

Demand is high for low-income housing, with people who live with mental illness joining seniors, families and singles looking for housing they can afford, Sebastian said.

In addition to housing, Compass provides a number of mental health services for children and adults. They include 24-hour in-patient care, housing with Compass staff on hand, outpatient services, services for children and a drop in center led by staff who have experienced mental illness.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

Apartments to reopen

Compass Health is preparing to reopen Northstar Apartments, its 40-unit apartment building on Oakes Avenue in Everett that was heavily damaged by a fire last year.

It needs community groups to outfit rooms with items such as beds, bedding, dressers, small tables and chairs, kitchen items and decorations.

More info: Jocelyn VanConey at 425-349-8122 or Nancy Cole 425-349-6866.

Annual breakfast

Compass Health has scheduled a fundraising breakfast May 11 at the Tulalip Resort Hotel, 10200 Quil Ceda Blvd. in Tulalip. The doors will open at 7 a.m. The program will begin at 7:30 a.m. and will end at 8:30 a.m.

There is no charge to attend, but a donation is requested. All proceeds benefit Compass Health’s programs and services. Reservations must be made by today. Call 425-349-8379 or email

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