Overnight Shelter Progress & Updates

UPDATE: Dated January 6, 2019, 2:00pm

As the New Year begins, our shelter renovation fund total has surpassed $130,000!

Your response is more than I’d dared hope when we first learned of the City’s decision to shut down our shelter. Your generosity and compassion toward our homeless neighbors has been overwhelming! We have met our Phase 1 renovation goal! Thank you!

January Next Steps:

  • General Contractor meeting, prepare Phase 1 renovation plan

  • Contractor draws up plans for complete sprinkler system

  • Present Phase 1 to the City

  • If approved, begin construction

 

Stay tuned for pictures and the rollout of the complete renovation plan! We have several more phases to finish before the shelter has a permanent place in our building with the ability to provide beds for 45 individuals. If Phase I is approved, we can Bring our 26 homeless guests In - because you cared!

 

Sincerely,

Nancy Olsten, EdD

Executive Director

Kitsap Rescue Mission

 

 

UPDATE: Dated October 15, 2019, 7:00pm

Please visit our FAQ page for general questions and answers. Click here.

UPDATE: Dated October 9, 2019, 5:35pm

Kitsap Rescue Mission Shelter to be Sheltered by the Salvation Army

We just got off the phone with Captain Dana Walters of the Salvation Army. She and Lance are out of town at a conference, but took time to check in with us. They were able to gain the permission of their parent organization and are working with them now to create an agreement for our two organizations.

When we first received word of the City’s decision to deny renewal of our permit, to be effective that day, 9/13/19, we reached out to our neighbors to see if we could arrange for our guests to have a place to sleep for the weekend. Getting that news on a Friday afternoon after people had made reservations for our Shelter through Housing Solutions was hard. We were able to get a permit extension that day through intervention by the Mayor. Soon after, Captains Lance and Dana reached out to meet with us. We discussed at that time the possibility that they might make a room available for our shelter guests and staff so that we could temporarily move our shelter service to their building. Today that gracious offer was confirmed and we are greatly comforted to know that our guests are being provided for.

A heartfelt thank you to Captains Lance and Dana for welcoming our staff and guests under their roof!

UPDATE: Dated October 9, 2019, 1:02pm

Dear Friends in the Community,

 

I am very puzzled by the Mayor’s letter, and the notice that he has decided not to renew the temporary certificate of occupancy for the shelter.

 

Here is where my puzzlement comes from:



First, the City issued a plan to us for a series of 30 day extensions ending January 14th, 2020, if we complied with the steps as outlined in each segment. I submitted our documentation on Monday. This step had two deliverables: the first was a schedule and costs for the sprinkler system installation, and the second was a funding strategy. The Mayor mentions in his letter that they denied our permit renewal because we hadn’t secured funding. A strategy is not the same as securing funding, so my understanding is that we complied fully with all that was asked of us.

 

Secondly, since this was a new process, I submitted our documentation before the deadline, so that we could receive feedback in case we were deficient in any area. What we received instead was a public letter and the Mayor’s decision not to renew the permit.

 

I am at a loss to understand how we could have been been working alongside the City, pursuing a plan that they laid out, and then learn that the Mayor decided that we didn’t meet the criteria without discussing that decision with us.

 

Further, our "unsafe" building has smoke detectors, a fire alarm system, staff that are awake to monitor the shelter all night, and a camera system. As one council member recently told me, "smoke alarms are to keep people safe - sprinklers are for buildings."

 

One question we are frequently asked is why we didn’t have the sprinkler system installed before now. The sprinkler system was part of the overall building plan that was approved by the City. We knew the sprinkler system was a requirement of the finished building remodel, as our renovation included transitional housing on our second floor. The issue of a sprinkler system as a requirement for renewal of our permit was never raised until a meeting with the City on September 13, 2019.  I would be happy to provide a copy of our Certificate of Occupancy, and the section that’s marked: "Sprinklers Req’d? NO."  My question for the Mayor would be, “if this was a serious concern, why didn’t you discuss it with us before now so that we were aware and could create a plan to address it?”

 

I am disappointed that the Mayor has shown such bad faith in dealing with us after inviting us to work together with his team on a solution to keep the shelter open.

 

It’s important too, that in the midst of our discussion about building codes, funding and politics, we don’t lose sight of our neighbors experiencing homelessness. It is cold this morning as I write this. No one should have to sleep outside. We ask for the support of the community as we support and provide for the most vulnerable in our community.

 

Sincerely,

Nancy Olsten, EdD

Executive Director

Kitsap Rescue Mission

 

 

UPDATE: Dated October 2, 2019

A 30-day public comment period is underway regarding the use of the CBDG funds. The $120,000 in federal grant money could be used to help install a sprinkler system to bring our building up to code that houses Kitsap's only low barrier year-round overnight shelter. 26 guests a night experiencing homelessness rely on our overnight shelter for a hot shower and a warm safe bed to sleep in. We appreciate Mayor Greg Wheeler and city officials and the city council for all of their work on this issue. 

After the 30-day public comment period is over the City Council will follow with a vote on whether to approve the proposal or not. 

If you would like to email, call or write a letter to the City Council to voice your support for keeping our overnight shelter open you can reach them at the contact information below. We want to encourage everyone to be kind as they share their thoughts and concerns with the City Council.

As always thank you for your love and support! 

 

Email them at:

City.Council@ci.bremertion.wa.us

Mail them at:

345 6th St., Suite 100
Bremerton, WA 98337

Call them at:

(360)473-5280

 

 

UPDATE: Dated September 26, 2019

Last night the City of Bremerton put forward two projects for funding consideration to the City Council. Just one of these projects will be chosen for funding. One is the Kitsap Rescue Mission Shelter, and the other is the YWCA Shelter for women and children.

For funding consideration, the City of Bremerton has asked the Kitsap Rescue Mission to adopt a nondiscrimination statement in hiring which means we would no longer consider faith as a component in hiring employees. This is not a requirement of the City – but of the rules governing the CBDG grant. We have asked for an exemption based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and are waiting for a response to see if that exemption extends to CDBG grants.

This statement from the Justice Department explains well the position of a faith based organization such as the Kitsap Rescue Mission:

There is no general Federal law that prohibits faith-based organizations that receive Federal funds from hiring on a religious basis. . . This special provision for faith-based groups protects the religious liberty of communities of faith. It permits faith-based groups to promote common values, a sense of community and unity of purpose, and shared experiences through service – all of which contribute to a religious organization's effectiveness. In order for a religious organization to define or carry out its mission, it may consider it important that it be able to take religion into account in hiring staff. Just as a college or university can take the academic credentials of an applicant for a professorship into consideration in order to maintain high standards, or an environmental organization can consider the views of potential employees on conservation, so too should a faith-based organization be able to take into account an applicant's religious belief when making a hiring decision.

Our faith in Christ is the center of who we are and why we are here for those in our community experiencing homelessness. We have always served all who come to us without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or religion - and will continue to do so.

We remain grateful to Mayor Greg Wheeler, City Officials and the City Council for all of their work, and we are continuing work on the permitting goals they have laid out for us.

We will post project plans and costs as soon as we have bids in hand. Thank you for your support.

UPDATE: Dated September 20, 2019

The City Comes Through for the Shelter!

Nancy Olsten, Executive Director just spoke with Bremerton Mayor, Greg Wheeler. The City had asked us to work on a funding strategy for our sprinkler system to bring us into compliance for the shelter, but he and his wonderful staff did it for us! The City has $120,000 in unused 2018 grant funds that can be made available to us pending City Council approval. We meet with the City Council this next Wednesday at 5:00pm. In addition, many of the City officials worked all day on creating a plan to keep the shelter open through a series of 30 day temporary permits. We are still working out the details, but we want to say thank you from the bottom my heart to this caring, creative and amazing group of city officials. Special thanks to Mayor Greg Wheeler who leads this awesome team.

PRESS RELEASE: Dated September 18, 2019

Through Kitsap Rescue Mission, the community takes care of its people experiencing homelessness in several important ways, including meals, clothing, case management, job training and an overnight shelter that sleeps 26.

 

KRM is the only emergency homeless shelter operating year-round in Kitsap County. The Mission has been operating the overnight shelter services on a temporary permit, due to the renovation that is slowly taking place in the building on 6th Street in Bremerton. That temporary permit is expiring, and due to concern over fire safety, it will not be renewed until the building is brought up to code.

 

Due to this news, KRM needs to find a place to temporarily relocate the overnight shelter service by October 13th. We will be meeting weekly with the City of Bremerton, which is supporting us in our efforts to bring the shelter up to code for sleeping accommodations. We will have a plan posted soon which will detail what’s needed to reopen the shelter permanently. 

The Dayroom will remain open and all services offered during business hours will continue. Case management, the WAV Program, clothing distribution and our offer of welcome and coffee will not be interrupted. Our hours of operation are 9:00am to 11:30am, and 1:00pm to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

WE HAVE 3 REQUESTS: 

First, if you know of a facility that could provide shelter for our 26 guests, please let us know. Places suitable for an indoor overnight shelter must have a sprinkler system and easy access to bathrooms.

Second, if you know of a church that would let us use their parking lot or field to set up a temporary shelter, let us know. The area would be fenced, staffed and have hygiene facilities on site. It’s our understanding that churches can host services such as this, even when the city or county codes don’t allow it otherwise (see RCW 36.01.290).

Third, fundraising. Our ultimate goal is to raise enough funds to purchase and install the sprinkler system and complete the renovations. We won't be able to achieve this without your support. We thank you for your giving and heart to help restore people and families in our community. 

Please contact the Executive Director, Nancy Olsten, if you know of an organization that would be willing to explore these options with us. You can reach Nancy at nolsten@kitsaprescue.org.

Kitsap Rescue Mission is a Washington State Non-Profit Corporation under IRS 501(c)(3) exemption and is registered with Washington State’s Charities Program as required by law.  Additional information is available by calling 800-332-4483 or visiting www.sos.wa.gov/charities  Registration #27830.  All donations are tax exempt.

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