PORT ANGELES — City officials have committed more than $300,000 in federal funding to the proposed transformation of a Port Angeles motel into low-income mental health housing complex.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to contribute up to $337,500 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to Peninsula Behavioral Health’s purchase and conversion of the All View Motel into a 27-unit housing complex for those who struggle with chronic mental illness, if a grant is approved.
Peninsula Behavioral Health has applied for a $2 million grant from the state Department of Commerce to help pay for the $2.7 million project at 214 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
PBH officials will know by Sept. 2 whether the grant is approved, CEO Wendy Sisk said.
If approved, the city of Port Angeles and Clallam County would each provide a $337,500 match.
County commissioners signed a letter of support for the project Aug. 3.
“What we’re trying to achieve with this project is quickly helping to identify individuals who have high needs but are willing to work within their treatment program to be successful in our community,” Sisk told the City Council on Tuesday.
The PBH project would provide four units of transitional housing for participants in Clallam County’s proposed mental health court and more than 20 units of family, individual and couples housing for those who have a history of behavioral health needs and have been active in their treatment programs, Sisk said.
“Peninsula Behavioral Health has been providing housing within Port Angeles since at least 1985, and I feel that we’ve done that very successfully,” Sisk told the City Council.
“We’ve worked with our community and our neighbors to ensure that we’re providing appropriate support to individuals who have high needs.”
City Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said he had suggested the All View Motel as a possible rapid acquisition project for the city’s housing crisis in a May 10 meeting with PBH Development Director Rebekah Miller.
“I had no idea that she’d run with it, but she ran with it, and a little over three months later, we’re at this stage where it’s becoming a reality,” Schromen-Wawrin said.
“That’s rapid acquisition.”
The 14,000-square-foot motel was built in 1937. The appraised value of the property and motel was $1.05 million in 2020, according to Clallam County Assessor’s Office records.
“What we’re proposing is actually converting those 20 hotel rooms into 27 units of actual housing — housing with firewalls, housing with appropriate kitchen facilities, housing with all the appropriate facilities for somebody to be successful living,” Sisk said.
PBH officials have met with neighboring residents and business owners about the proposal, Sisk said.
The motel is near Jefferson Elementary School and within a half-mile of PBH’s central office at 118 E. Eighth St.
PBH would staff the facility 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Miller told Clallam County commissioners this month.
PBH also owns the Arlene Engel Home, a 19-bed assisted living facility for behavioral health clients at 138 W. Second St., and it operates three transitional supportive living houses in Port Angeles.
Council member Mike French said he owns a business near the Arlene Engel Home and considers it to be a “great neighbor.”
“I’m really excited for this project,” French said of the motel project.
Schromen-Wawrin, who lives near the Arlene Engel Home, said the motel project would help the city’s most vulnerable population.
“When we talk as a community about what to do about homelessness, this is what we do about homelessness, because this is directly solving the problem,” Schromen-Wawrin said.
Council member LaTrisha Suggs sought assurances that current long-term residents of the All View Motel would not be displaced by the mental health facility.
Sisk said there were two people leasing rooms on week-to-week arrangements with All View Motel. She could not guarantee that those two people would qualify to live in the mental health facility under the guidelines of the Commerce grant.
“We would, however, assist people in relocating,” Sisk told Suggs.
“We have a full-time supportive housing specialist on staff, and in the event that we couldn’t continue to accommodate the individuals who are residing there, we will make every effort to find an alternative arrangement, whether it’s through housing or whether it’s another temporary arrangement like a motel.”
“We will make every effort to ensure that, by creating housing for others, we’re not creating homelessness as well,” Sisk added.
The city of Port Angeles was awarded $5.65 million in ARPA funds for needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including housing.
Clallam County received a $15.02 million allotment of ARPA money, half of which has been awarded. The second half of the county’s ARPA funding will be dispersed in May 2022, county officials have said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].