Port Townsend homeless shelter readies for winter opening with hope of extending service
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Workers prepare the Port Townsend Emergency Winter Shelter on Friday in the American Legion Post 26 basement. They are, from left, Michael Bowe, AmeriCorp volunteer; Tom Bishell, facilities manager for Olympic Community Action Program; and George Logg, program manager for transitional housing at OlyCAP. -- Photo by Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND -- The winter shelter for the homeless will open its fifth season beginning Nov. 29 in the American Legion Post 26 basement.

"This year, we're hoping to extend it two weeks," said deForest Walker, director of Olympic Community Action Programs' Housing Services Division.

"We're going to try to go past mid-March this year."

The shelter at 208 Monroe St., in Port Townsend, serves up to 18 single adults each night, giving them cots to sleep on, hot meals and bag lunches to go after breakfast.

Women are accepted for short stays, but in limited numbers, Walker said.

The shelter ran until March 5 last year.

Veterans are given priority, and Walker said she is seeing a growing number of homeless vets in Port Townsend, some of them having served in the Iraq war.

"We're going to be seeing more as the troops come home," Walker said. "They need help because of the kinds of injuries they are sustaining."

Those injuries include traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress syndrome, she said.

Walker praised the American Legion and volunteers for continuously upgrading the basement space used for the homeless shelter.

This year, the walls and floors were painted. Last year, the American Legion post raised $14,000 in donations to buy a new furnace.

The shelter opens at 4 p.m. daily and runs through 8 a.m. the following day.

The facility, which includes a kitchen, served 75 individuals during 2007 and 2008, up from 55 in 2006.

Walker said the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Port Townsend Police Department have referred homeless people to the shelter.

"We very grateful to the community," Walker said.

The American Legion shelter works in partnership with Community Outreach Association Shelter Team, or COAST, and OlyCAP.

Walker praises the American Legion and COAST for their support.

Besides the new furnace installed last year, the American Legion's back delivery driveway now has a sump pump installed in its drainage system, which pumps water up into the city rain garden in the parking lot behind City Hall, adjacent to the Legion hall.

That has prevented flooding at the shelter, which was a problem in the past.

Opened in 2005-2006, the shelter has about 250 volunteers and two overnight monitors who are paid by OlyCAP.

Each paid monitor is assisted by a volunteer.

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Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 22. 2009 9:07PM
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