PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has agreed that the city will fund a portion of the Jefferson County Summer Emergency Shelter operated by Olympic Community Action Programs at the American Legion Hall on the corner of Water and Monroe streets.
The council tasked City Manager David Timmons to work with Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCap) to determine the minimum amount of funds the city could appropriate up to $75,000. Timmons will make a funding recommendation at the council’s April 2 meeting.
OlyCap Housing Director Kathy Morgan said the total budget for the summer program is $120,769. She said $30,000 will come from Jefferson County and $15,769 from OlyCap funds.
This is the second year of the Summer Program, named Shelter Plus, which is an extension of the Winter Shelter that has been serving the community for 13 years.
In her presentation, Morgan explained that the shelter provides not only a safe place to stay, but also allows those working to shower and use the internet. In addition, the shelter is a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
“Our intent was to close the summer shelter because there were no funds to keep it open this year,” Morgan said.
However, she said there was an important reason to offer the service again and obtain funding.
“For our winter season, we’ve served 97 people,” Morgan said. “This is significant because when we close the door on April 1, there are 97 people who have nowhere else to go.”
Morgan said that from May 1 through October last year, 67 men and 19 women were housed for a total of 2,425 bed nights at a cost of $50 per bed per night. Sixteen were veterans while 18 were seniors.
Morgan said 18 people who stayed at the shelter last summer were fully employed and had nowhere else to go. OlyCap staff helped 15 people find employment last summer and 16 people get into permanent housing.
“According to the Department of Commerce, Jefferson County’s average rental is $1,721 per month, which is pretty substantial,” she said.
“During the summer season, we had the shelter open three times a week during the day for showers because we were told that the showers were closing at the port [Boat Haven] and there are a lot of people who use them,” Morgan said. “They were not staying there, only using the showers, and having access to the internet. Thirty-eight people used that service last summer.
“The majority of money being spent is on staffing. We keep all the expenses as low as possible, especially in the summertime. We have to have staff there to manage the program. The people we employ, not all but most, were homeless. They live here. A lot of those dollars go right back into the community,” Morgan said.
She said the current plan is to close the shelter during April for cleaning and repairs, and re-open in early May when the job is completed.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.