Thousands awarded for housing in Jefferson County

Bulk of funding goes to maintaining operations

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners sent more than a half-million dollars to homeless and affordable housing services Tuesday after approving the Housing Fund Board’s recommendations for funding.

A total of $778,500 will go to several service organizations in the area to support homeless and affordable housing services throughout the county, much of it to support ongoing services already being provided.

“No one got quite what they were asking for,” said District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton.

He added that project applications submitted to the county had been scored by members of the Housing Fund Board and chosen based on those scores.

“We could only fund two-thirds of the requests,” Brotherton said.

The housing board is the result of a 2021 interlocal agreement between the county and the City of Port Townsend to address affordable housing and homelessness in the area.

Organizations receiving funding include Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP); Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County; Bayside Housing and Services; Dove House Advocacy Services; Community Build and the OWL 360 youth program.

Much of the approved funding will support ongoing services for organizations already providing homeless and affordable housing services.

Bayside Housing of Port Hadlock was granted a total of $244,500 for operations at the organization’s Woodley Place transitional housing complex and for 25 tiny homes located at Peter’s Place and Pat’s Place.

Tiny homes are small, cabin-like buildings that are increasingly being used as transitional housing for people without shelter. Commissioners approved $20,000 for the organization Community Build to build another 10 tiny homes at the Caswell-Brown Village.

OlyCAP will receive $320,000 to continue managing the Caswell-Brown Village, the emergency homeless shelter located at the American Legion Hall in Port Townsend and the Haines Street Cottages.

Funding approved by the board Tuesday will help pay for utilities, insurance and maintenance at the county’s various shelters as well as salaries and benefits for employees who manage them.

During the public comment period, Heather Dudley-Nollette, Bayside’s director of development, thanked commissioners for carefully choosing projects to fund.

“Thank you for really valuing the operations dollars that it takes to make these programs work,” Dudley-Nollette said, noting that once projects are constructed, there is, “the much bigger task actually to maintain (programs) as we go forward.”

During the morning public comment period, Kelli Dillingham Parcher called in on behalf of the OWL 360 program to criticize the scoring system the housing board used to select projects to fund.

“The system from the outside looking in appears very much to have an arbitrary scoring attachment to it,” she said.

“There is never any explanation or breakdown to share with the community of the agencies on how the scaling system works. You only get to see a whole score.”

While noting that all the projects were worthy of funding, Parcher said organizations that received similar scores ended up getting disparate amounts of funding.

According to the housing board’s score sheet, Dove House and OWL 360 received similar scores — 118,152 and 118,140, respectively — but commissioners ended up approving $192,000 to Dove House and $34,000 to the youth shelter.

In response, District 1 Commissioner Kate Dean, who sits on the Housing Fund Board, called the scoring system an “imperfect science” and highly subjective.

“Because there are more requests for funds than are available, we end up having to make some hard decisions,” Dean said, “and often very subjective ones.”

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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