Cocoon House’s new building, The Hub, on Colby Avenue and 36th Street in Everett, will offering housing for 40 youths and young adults and support programs for the nonprofit agencies clients. (Cocoon House)

Cocoon House’s new building, The Hub, on Colby Avenue and 36th Street in Everett, will offering housing for 40 youths and young adults and support programs for the nonprofit agencies clients. (Cocoon House)

Editorial: Investment in supportive housing begins to pay off

The opening of Cocoon House’s Hub marks the first of three projects with the promise to change lives.

By The Herald Editorial Board

The first of three supportive-housing projects opening this year in Everett introduced itself to the community Thursday.

The complementary efforts promise to make significant headway not only in offering 170 additional units of housing for those living with homelessness in Everett and Snohomish County, but in providing access to the services needed to get treatment and support, find schooling and employment and rebuild lives.

It starts with 40 new units of housing for the community’s most vulnerable, the children and young adults served by Cocoon House, the nonprofit that for 28 years has provided shelter, counseling and assistance necessary to break the cycle of homelessness.

Cocoon House welcomed hundreds Thursday to The Hub, which will centralize its staff and programs and will house two distinct populations, who are set to begin moving in soon to the facility at Colby Avenue and 36th Street. Twenty youths between 13 and 17 will have their own rooms and space for counseling, substance abuse treatment, medical care and training in life skills, support for education and employment services. On a separate floor, another 20 young adults, between 18 and 24, will benefit from individual studio apartments, with shared spaces for daily life, including dining and laundry, in close contact with Cocoon House staff.

The Hub’s first floor will be dedicated to the program’s U-Turn drop-in center and space for services and programs that include health care, employment training and education; a music studio; commercial kitchen; community meeting space and administrative offices.

The $14.2 million facility was funded through private and corporate donations and grants from state agencies, many named on a wall in The Hub’s community center.

While the community got its first look Thursday, some of The Hub’s new tenants took a tour earlier of the 32,000-square-foot facility.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, who served several years as the nonprofit’s executive director before leaving to run for the mayor’s office, was there during the tour by Cocoon House clients, who she said were eagerly “calling dibs” on rooms, as would any kid moving into a new home. For youths who are coming out of situations of trauma and uncertainty, there was a chance to see their place and worth in the community.

“This shows them how much they are valued,” Franklin said before the ceremony.

Cocoon House’s Hub is just the first of three facilities opening this year, each serving a different segment of those struggling with homelessness, and profiled in recent stories by The Herald’s Lizz Giordano.

Work continues on Clare’s Place, a four-story, 65-unit complex with studio and one-bedroom apartments on Berkshire Drive in central Everett’s Glacier View neighborhood. Scheduled to open in May, it will serve the city’s chronically homeless, those who have gone without reliable shelter for more than a year or have experienced homelessness four or more times in the past three years.

Operated by Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services, and with assistance from Community Health Center of Snohomish County, the low-barrier facility will be continually staffed and will offer access to treatment for mental illness, addiction and medical and dental needs.

Later in September, Housing Hope is scheduled to open its five-story HopeWorks Station II, at Broadway and 34th Street. More than 50 of the facility’s 65 units will be dedicated to families and others transitioning out of homelessness and participating in the agency’s employment and life-skills training, including work at HopeWorks adjacent home furnishings store, a commercial kitchen and the HopeWorks cafe, which will move into the new facility.

All three facilities opening this year share similar goals of providing shelter, healing and growth. And all have depended on the support of private and corporate and nonprofit donors as well as the contributions of taxpayers.

After years of work — and occasional controversy — Everett and surrounding communities can now begin to see the outcomes of those investments.

Some 170 additional people and families will now find shelter and the help they need to support themselves and their families, and — perhaps for the first time — see that they are valued and can make their own contributions to the community.

Among those celebrating the opening of The Hub on Thursday was Cocoon House’s founder and former director, Sarri Gilman, who started her work with homeless youths and launched a shelter program in 1991, thanks to a donation of a house and funding from the North Everett Lions Club.

Gilman, who recently suffered a broken hip and femur, used a friend’s hand and crutches to make her way to the lectern.

“It’s meaningful for me to be here with something broken. Because this is how our kids find us, with something broken,” Gilman said.

The youths that Cocoon House serves, she said, need time, support and a place to heal. With that assistance they not only heal and grow but learn how to cope and persevere over the losses and setbacks they will suffer later in life.

It’s a reminder that broken things can be made whole.

Butterfly Ceremony

Cocoon House’s Butterfly Ceremony, noon, May 8, at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center, is an opportunity to honor the achievements of the program’s youths and learn more about the nonprofit’s programs. Tickets are $30 for individuals, $250 for a 10-guest table, with a suggested donation of $175 per person. Purchase tickets at www.cocoonhouse.org/butterfly.

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