Serenity House of Clallam County is closing the Tempest, a permanent supportive housing program in Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Serenity House of Clallam County is closing the Tempest, a permanent supportive housing program in Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Serenity House to close Tempest housing on North Albert Street

Crime, vandalism, low funding cited in agency’s decision

PORT ANGELES — Bill Hosel, 65, signed a one-year lease at a permanent supportive housing program operated by Serenity House of Clallam County at the start of the year, but is now worried he might end up on the streets before winter.

“We’re all worried,” Hosel said. “I can’t spend another winter outside.”

Serenity House sent a letter to tenants of the Tempest, 112 N. Albert St., on July 17 informing them they must be out of their units no later than 11:59 p.m. Sept. 30.

The reason: high crime rates and increasing amounts of damage to the building that have made the program unsustainable. Police have been there more than 328 times in the past two years.

A notice from the City of Port Angeles shows that unit 13 of the Tempest, a permanent supportive housing offered by Serenity House of Clallam County, cannot be occupied due to unsanitary conditions. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A notice from the City of Port Angeles shows that unit 13 of the Tempest, a permanent supportive housing offered by Serenity House of Clallam County, cannot be occupied due to unsanitary conditions. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

“We regret the need to make this change, we have spoken to you about it several times,” the letter to residents said. “The lack of tenant support in keeping the facility damage and crime free has led to this action. In your next housing, remember this and be sure you are not inviting in guests who destroy, assault, sell drugs and more.”

Hosel, who grew up in Port Angeles and has lived at Tempest for over a year, said it has been in the back of his mind for awhile that the Tempest could eventually close due to the conditions there — but still he wasn’t expecting it.

Hosel was homeless before he moved to the Tempest.

He and officials said many of the problems are caused by people who don’t actually live there.

Serenity House is working to place most of the residents in Tempest’s 13 units into other permanent supportive housing programs at Sunbelt Apartments in Sequim and Maloney Heights in Port Angeles.

The upstairs hallway in the Tempest, a permanent supportive housing operated by Serenity House of Clallam County. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

The upstairs hallway in the Tempest, a permanent supportive housing operated by Serenity House of Clallam County. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

The nonprofit’s director, Doc Robinson, said Tuesday that three people already have been placed and that Serenity House is working to find room for six other residents.

“There are several we are working with to find outside housing with family and friends,” Robinson said. “There’s a couple we’re going to help, of course, but they are not our focus because they are the reason we are closing.”

Hosel said Serenity House officials have offered to help him find housing and that he thinks they’ll “do their best,” but he is still worried.

One unit is currently condemned after sewage began leaking into the office below it and a second unit is vacant after a tenant allegedly caused an explosion. John Harold Hann, Hosel’s neighbor, has been in jail since June 16 and is charged with first-degree arson.

Serenity House evicted a Tempest resident earlier this year who court papers say caused damage to the rental unit, burglarized the administrative office space and frequently used alcohol and controlled substances in and around the rental unit.

Robinson, a candidate for Port Angeles City Council, said state laws make eviction difficult and that “means that the majority good tenants can be hostage to bad apples for a minimum of nine months.”

The behaviors leading to the closure have escalated because Serenity House has not been able to fund enough staff to monitor the site 24/7, Robinson said. He said Serenity House receives a $87,000 federal grant and uses about $87,000 of the profits from the nonprofit’s thrift store to fund the program, but it isn’t enough.

“We’re not doing the job we’re supposed to do if we’re running a program like this,” Robinson said. “We can’t do the kind of manpower coverage that’s needed to keep people who don’t belong on the site off the site.”

He said the $87,000 grant can be used elsewhere by Serenity House, though it wasn’t yet clear exactly how it would be spent.

He said most of the profits from the thrift store go toward paying Serenity House’s debt.

Robinson said that among the issues is that many who are housed there have mental disabilities and visitors force their way into their rooms. He said some tenants are intimidated and are unable to say that they don’t want those people there.

Robinson said it isn’t yet clear what will happen with the building, which is owned by Serenity House.

Serenity House may refurbish the building as housing, may try to sell it to a developer, or build a new building on the property.

In the past two years police have visited Tempest for reports of 12 assaults, seven burglaries, 18 disturbances, three drug violations, as well as nine reports of malicious mischief, 87 reports of trespassing and 20 warrant arrests or attempts, according to information received through a public records request.

“I think anybody who looks at that number would perceive that to be a high number for one address,” said Deputy Chief Jason Viada.

“My hope … is that the next facility, whatever it is, isn’t a place that puts such a demand on our limited law enforcement resources.”

Viada said that though some may be prohibited from entering Serenity House property, if a tenant allows them into their home they cannot be arrested and though police know it has become a hot spot for crime, they can’t barge into people’s apartments without probable cause.

“It’s important to remember the people within the four walls of those small Serenity House apartments enjoy the same reasonable expectation of privacy as the people within the four walls of the biggest mansion on the highest hill above the city,” Viada said.

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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