Bayside Housing to take over Port Townsend shelter July 1

Jefferson County, service agency reach $350,000 agreement

PORT TOWNSEND — Management of the homeless shelter at the American Legion building in Port Townsend is ready to be transferred to Bayside Housing and Services, pending the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bayside, Jefferson County and the legion.

Jefferson County Commissioners approved a draft provision of services agreement with Bayside on Monday to manage the shelter for the next year.

The county projected the cost to operate the shelter at $300,000 annually — $25,000 a month — including $21,000 in rent, $10,000 for utility payments and about $250,000 for salaries and benefits for four employees, including a full-time shelter manager. Additional funds also are included for things like maintenance and supplies.

The agreement also directs Bayside and the county to pursue grant funding and donations in order to reduce the county’s costs.

District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton said at the meeting the county would be using general fund dollars to fund the shelter and that the county is in discussions with the city of Port Townsend and Jefferson Healthcare on possible funding agreements.

“We’re not taking money away from anything else right now,” Brotherton said.

Money for the shelter is being drawn from the county’s Housing Fund Board and recording fees.

If the agreement is approved by Bayside, the contract will run from July 1 to June 30, 2025.

Bayside Deputy Executive Director Heather Dudley-Nollette said a final budget has not been finalized or approved but that the group hopes to have the process completed within the next two days.

“Hopefully we can wrap it up in the next 24 to 48 hours. If we’re going to do it, we need to start,” Dudley-Nollette said. “We just need to make sure that if we’re going to take it on, we can continue to do it well in addition to our other programs, without compromising the integrity of those.”

If Bayside does take over management, a shelter manager and overnight hosts will have to be hired in a short amount of time. Dudley-Nollette said Bayside will be looking to the community for support in running the shelter.

The agreement covers one full-time shelter manager with an annual salary of $55,000 and $16,500 in benefits and pay for three full-time-equivalent shelter hosts at $22 an hour.

The shelter, located in the basement of the American Legion Marvin G. Shields Memorial Post 26 in Port Townsend, is currently run by Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), which has managed the shelter for the past several years.

The nonprofit said in March it no longer has the funds to operate the shelter — which OlyCAP said was between $25,000 and $30,000 a month, mostly in salaries — citing the end of pandemic-era stimulus funding.

OlyCAP is currently seeking funding for a permanent homeless shelter at the Caswell-Brown Village, which will replace the shelter at the American Legion once it’s completed.

The space is Jefferson County’s only homeless shelter, and a recent federal court ruling, Boise v. Martin, prohibits local governments from removing unhoused people from camping on public property if no shelter space is available. Another federal case on the matter, Grants Pass, Ore. v. Johnson, is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court with a decision pending.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsuldailynews.com.

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