OlyCAP director says housing projects on track

Affordable apartments and temporary shelter moving forward

PORT TOWNSEND — Two housing projects in Jefferson County are on schedule and applications for one of them could be accepted as soon as December, according to Cherish Cronmiller, director of Olympic Community Action Programs.

Speaking via teleconference to a meeting of the Sunrise Rotary Club in Port Townsend on Wednesday, Cronmiller gave updates on Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP)’s affordable housing apartment complex and temporary housing and an emergency shelter for homeless people.

The $15.5 million apartment complex — known as Seventh Haven — is a 43-unit complex under construction at the intersection of Seventh and Hendricks Streets in Port Townsend next to the QFC supermarket.

“Half those units are going to be able to serve family size,” Cronmiller said. “We are slated to hopefully start accepting applications for residents at the end of this year, in the December time frame.”

Cronmiller said the complex will have six studio apartments, 18 one-bedroom apartments, 15 two-bedroom apartments and four three-bedroom apartments. Thirty-two of the units will be eligible for Section Eight housing vouchers, which will be attached not to the renters, Cronmiller said, but not to the units themselves, ensuring affordability into the future.

The complex will be reserved for people making 50 percent or less than the area median income, Cronmiller said, with 10 apartments reserved for OlyCAP’s partner organizations such as Discovery Behavioral Health and Safe Harbor Recovery Center.

On-site child care will be provided by the local YMCA, Cronmiller said, with spaces open to the public based on availability.

Elsewhere in Jefferson County, OlyCAP is making progress on the Caswell-Brown Village, a project which developed in response to a homeless encampment that started at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, Jefferson County purchased a piece of land on Mill Road that could serve as a temporary campground for unsheltered people.

Most of the people living at the village are currently in tents, RVs or campers, Cronmiller said, but efforts are underway to build what she called wooden tents for people to sleep in, as well as a shower facility and electrical connections.

OlyCAP also has submitted an application to the state Department of Commerce for roughly $3 million for an emergency homeless shelter and services facility at the site. Cronmiller said so far it’s taken roughly $1 million to make alterations at the Mill Road site, which includes leveling ground, adding septic and electricity.

Cronmiller said many of the people OlyCAP works with can be difficult, since they include people with mental health and substance abuse issues, but she argued that providing services is a preferable option to putting people into the judicial system.

“As a society, we have to decide, you’re going to pay for this one way or the other. Whether it’s the judicial system, policing and jails, you’re going to foot the bill one way or another,” Cronmiller said.

“As a society, we have to decide what is a sort of minimum that people can be living at regardless of what they have done or are capable of, and that’s where people’s lines are different.”

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at psegall@soundpublishing.com.

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