PORT TOWNSEND — More than 200 people gathered Friday afternoon for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the 7th Haven housing project in Port Townsend.
The 43-unit complex at Seventh and Hendricks streets in Port Townsend will serve low-income people and families, many of whom were previously unhoused. The hope is that people will be able to move in starting May 1, according to Cherish Cronmiller, executive director of Olympic Community Action Programs, an agency serving both Jefferson and Clallam counties which owns the building.
“We’ve all recognized for a long time that there’s a housing crisis in Jefferson County and just about everywhere around,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Brotherton, speaking in the mostly finished parking garage of the complex on Friday.
“This is a step in addressing that issue,” Brotherton said.
Planning for the project goes back several years.
The projected budget had been more than $15 million; with complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is coming in at more than $16 million.
Most of the funding has been provided by the state Housing Trust Fund. Units in the complex are reserved for those making 50 percent of the area median income for Jefferson County, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau is just under $60,000.
Several of the units will be funded by Section 8 vouchers, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“Seventh Haven is an amazing physical manifestation of Olympic Community Action Program’s vision of housing equity in this community,” said former OlyCAP executive director Dale Wilson, under whose leadership the project was started.
“However, it is far, far more than that,” Wilson said. “In just a few days these walls will be filled with love, laughter, defeats and victories.”
Several organizations provided funding for the project, including the state Department of Commerce, Jefferson County,the City of Port Townsend and private donations from individual donors and community groups such as the Port Townsend Kiwanis Club and Port Townsend Noon Rotary Club.
Cronmiller, the current executive director, said when she first joined the organization just before the pandemic began, it seemed like the project might never get completed.
“Everyone, it just seemed like they wanted so much,” Cronmiller said of community feedback that called for energy efficiency, aesthetic compatibility and other requirements.
“I’m amazed that this project has come as close as it has to all of the quotes and bids and everything that was put out there,” Cronmiller said.
Thirty-two of the units will go to households that were previously unhoused or living in shelters, including 10 veterans, Cronmiller said.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor — who represents the 6th Congressional District which includes the Olympic Peninsula — said at the ceremony that affordable housing was a nationwide issue and highlighted the use of HUD money.
In addition to housing — a combination of studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments — the complex features a children’s play area and on-site support services for mental health and substance abuse issues.
The complex is a Net Zero Energy Building meaning it meets high energy efficiency standards with solar panels on the roof, low-flow shower heads and triple-pane windows.
In addition, an electric vehicle is on site to be available for residents to use as part of a car-sharing program.
A childcare facility on-site managed by the Olympic Peninsula YMCA will be open to the public. Work on the childcare facility is ongoing and a separate ribbon-cutting ceremony will be conducted at a future date.
Construction on the project began in July 2021. Fundraising for the project began in 2018. The building was constructed by Bainbridge Island-based Clark Construction.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.