PORT ANGELES — Serenity House of Clallam County plans to reopen its night-by-night shelter on Oct. 15, if the nonprofit can hire a new shelter director by then.
“We cannot open this shelter on October 15 if we do not have a shelter director,” Doc Robinson, Serenity House executive director told the Shelter Providers Network on Wednesday.
“It’s a unique position that requires a balance of heart and steel will without being Sergeant Rock.”
Serenity House announced in April that it would close its three shelters — the night-by-night, family and sober shelters — due to lack of funding.
The sober shelter was closed earlier this year and the family shelter has stopped taking new clients.
The low-barrier night-by-night shelter closed in June, but local churches teamed up with United Way of Clallam County and found money to reopen the shelter this fall.
The churches and United Way worked together to raise $40,000 and Robinson said he wouldn’t be surprised if the campaign ends up raising about $50,000.
That funding is enough to reopen the shelter and get it through the fall, he said.
“We have what it will take to get started and we’ll figure it out as we go,” he said. “This is not unusual.”
Robinson said Wednesday that Serenity House has not yet received any resumes for the position. Robinson said there’s plenty of work that needs to be done before the shelter reopens, including getting the food and laundry operations and clothing exchange up and running.
Serenity House needs to make sure its van, used for transporting people to the shelter, is also ready to go, he said.
They also need to get the word out to people who would need to use the shelter, many of whom are camping in the woods.
“Step by step we need to pull it into being so they have a place to go before the rains get terrible,” Robinson said. “The key to this, more than anything else, is I need to find that shelter director.”
One of Serenity House’s concerns has been a lack of stable funding.
Serenity House announced the closure of its shelters after it was unable to secure funding from Clallam County. This year 11 different agencies asked for a combined $936,587 from the county’s homeless fund, a fund paid for though recording fees. Only $409,000 was available.
Robinson said the county has adjusted how it distributes funding through its homeless fund. He said it will be in two-year cycles that fall on the state’s fiscal year.
The county has not yet put out a request for a proposals and no funding is guaranteed to Serenity House.
“After January, I’m 100 percent confident that we will have money to run the shelter,” Robinson said. “It may not be as much as I want, so what, that’s what the county will decide.”
Last year the night-by-night shelter served 401 individuals and had 6,942 bed nights. The shelter acts as triage that helps connect people to other housing services Serenity House provides.
Over the summer, 11 to 15 people used the shelter each night before it closed, Robinson has said when the weather worsens in the winter, 35 to 45 people used the shelter each night.
Last year 24 percent of people who stayed at the shelter were eventually placed into permanent housing.
“The key is when we create a welcoming, safe environment, they use it in droves,” Robinson said. “It’s good for the county and it’s good for all of us. They stabilize and they begin to seek services they need.”
To apply for the director position, contact Serenity House’s main administrative office at 2203 W. 18th St., phone 360-452-7224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The mailing address is P.O. Box 4047, Port Angeles, WA 98363.
Serenity House is also hiring for a number of other positions. It is hosting a hiring event 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at WorkSource Clallam County, 228 W. First Street.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at email@example.com.