Overnight Shelter Progress & Updates

UPDATE: Dated March 20, 2020, 7:30pm

Update on Homeless Services in a time of Isolation

 

First, we remember the God we serve. He told us that when we care for the sick or visit those in prison, we are doing it for Him. We are still His hands and feet. That has not changed.

 

We take this epidemic seriously and are taking steps to keep staff, volunteers and our guests as safe as we can while we continue the work that God has entrusted us with.

 

We know you have questions and concerns. Here are some we have heard:

Why aren’t you closed? The Governor mandated no meetings of more than 50 people.

Homeless services, like those the Mission provides are considered essential services in the same category as nursing homes or hospitals. We have asked the Kitsap Department of Public Health/Department of Emergency Management to state this specifically so that the community knows we are supposed to be open.

 

Are your staff and volunteers wearing protective equipment?

Face shields just arrived today. These are the clear ones that cover your face from your forehead to your chin. We are asking people working here to change into scrubs when they arrive, and change out of them when they leave to prevent the virus from hitchhiking home on their clothing. Gloves are provided and we ask everyone to wear them while here.

Social distancing guidelines state you should stay 6 feet apart. Are you doing that?

In the shelter we are spacing mats as far apart as possible, and arranging them “head to toe” meaning that guests’ head positions are alternated: the person on mat one has their head to the wall, then the person on mat two has their feet to the wall, and so on. This provides the greatest breathing distance at night. 

 

How do you know what is the right thing to do? You aren’t trained in medicine.

We are on daily conference calls with the Health Department, medical providers, and other service providers. The County has been great about providing us with written guidelines about safety and sanitation which we are following. 

 

Why aren’t you taking clothing donations?

Right now we are concerned about taking in items that may be unknowingly contaminated with the virus, so we have suspended donations for a few weeks. We do however have a list of packaged items that we would be most grateful for! You can access that list on our Current Needs page. If you want to drop them off, you can call us and arrange a drop off time, call when you are here, and we will meet you at the back door off the alley. You may leave things for us to pick up when you leave, so you are not in close contact with anyone. 
 

Are you still serving meals?

Yes! We are just not seating everyone together at Lincoln Avenue Bible Church. The meals are prepared there, then boxed and brought back to the Mission to distribute. Our meal volunteers are never in contact with our guests. The need is still great - last night Carol handed out 95 meals!

You aren’t still using volunteers are you?

Yes we are. IF you are healthy and have no risk factors related to the virus (have underlying health conditions and/or you are over 60). We have asked all of our volunteers who are in a high-risk category to stay home at this time. But, if you are not at risk, aren’t living with a vulnerable person and would like to be involved, we’d love to have you. Please contact Ami Leach, Dayroom Manager at aleach@kitsaprescue.org. She will provide training on an individual basis.

 

We are not in this alone! The community of service agencies and shelters in Kitsap County are amazing and we are all helping each other out and collaborating on how we can provide the best care possible to those who need it most.

Keep checking back for updates!

We are working with the County and the other shelter providers on a coordinated plan to keep services in place for the unsheltered. The County is the designated recipient of federal funds being provided for relief efforts, and they will pass those funds along to service providers once the plan is in place. 

 

We realize many of you are facing great hardship right now. Some have lost their jobs and all are living with uncertainty. Please reach out to us and let us know how we can pray for you. You can email requests to info@kitsaprescue.org, or message us on Facebook. We want to hear how you are doing.

 

Confident in His Love and Provision,

Nancy Olsten

Executive Director

nolsten@kitsaprescue.org

UPDATE: Dated February 12th, 2020, 2:30pm

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

As the New Year begins, our shelter renovation fund total has surpassed $137,000!

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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