Shelter offered through August

Social Distancing Center averaging 36 per night

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County will maintain its COVID-19 Social Distancing Center though the end of August.

Commissioners voted 2-0 Tuesday to approve contract amendments with the Port of Port Angeles for shelter space, Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic for medical services and Norpoint Tactical for security at the port’s 1010 Building near William R. Fairchild International Airport.

The new contacts, which are valid though Aug. 31, were needed to give Serenity House of Clallam County more time to complete an 80-bed expansion of its existing shelter in west Port Angeles, county officials said.

Clallam County opened a temporary Social Distancing Center in April 2020 to give the homeless population room to maintain 6 feet of physical distance and to quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re looking forward to the successful conclusion of our need for that facility,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said in a Tuesday meeting.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed that things go smoothly over the summer.”

The $90,000 monthly cost to operate the Social Distancing Center will be covered by federal COVID-19 relief funds, county officials said.

The Social Distancing Center has been averaging about 36 guests per night, said Kevin LoPiccolo, Health and Human Services interim director, after the meeting.

Clallam County will continue to pay the port $15,000 per month to lease the building through Aug. 31.

The county will pay hourly rates of $31 and $28.60 for Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic medical services and case management, respectively.

Norpoint Tactical of Port Angeles will receive $69,140 to respond to up to 50 security incidents at the Social Distancing Center this summer, according to the amended fee schedule.

The Serenity House expansion was delayed by permitting issues with the city of Port Angeles, Executive Director Sharron Maggard told commissioners in April. Those issues have since been resolved.

The two-story Serenity House expansion will nearly double the capacity of the 92-bed shelter at 2321 W. 18th St.

“Hopefully at the end of August we’ll see that transition take place,” LoPiccolo told commissioners Ozias and Randy Johnson.

Commissioner Bill Peach was excused to attend a state Board of Natural Resources session.

Johnson chaired the business meeting as Ozias participated virtually from Boston.

Homelessness panel

In an earlier meeting Tuesday, Ozias and Johnson vetted revised funding recommendations from a Homelessness Task Force subcommittee.

The subcommittee had previously recommended that commissioners disperse $608,717 in state Homeless Housing and Assistance funds to Concerned Citizens of Clallam County, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Serenity House of Clallam County and The Answer For Youth (TAFY) for six programs.

Jennifer Oppelt, behavioral health program coordinator, said the subcommittee reconvened at the board’s request May 25 and recommended $992,992 in expenditures to those four agencies.

The agencies had requested a combined $1.1 million.

The largest of the new spending recommendations was $549,120 to Serenity House of Clallam County to staff 24-hour operations of its shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The committee felt that this agency had less available resources financially,” Oppelt told commissioners.

“They discussed the foreseen increase in need for shelter when the eviction moratorium is gone.”

Gov. Jay Inslee’s eviction moratorium for COVID-19 is scheduled to expire June 30.

Johnson requested more information from Serenity House about whether the state funds would cover the anticipated cost of taking on new clients from the Social Distancing Center.

Oppelt said she would provide the information before commissioners approve the expenditures next Tuesday.

“I don’t think I have a problem with their request,” Johnson said.

“It makes sense with 24-7 (operations) and three meals a day.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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