Opinion

Transitional homes can be good for communities | In Our Opinion

At least one resident of 9th Avenue in Poulsbo has expressed concerns that a house in his neighborhood is proposed to be used as a transitional home for families at risk of becoming homeless.

A neighborhood meeting is scheduled Dec. 11, 2-5 p.m., at the home. We encourage neighbors to attend the meeting, and to keep open minds as well as open hearts.

There are reasons to support transitional homes.

The privately-owned home is being offered as part of the Adopt A Home program operated by OneChurch One Family, a network of Kitsap County churches. In the Adopt A Home program, a church adopts a home and is responsible for furnishing it, and Kitsap Community Resources is responsible for screening and placing the family and maintaining the structure. Each family has a case worker that helps the family set goals and navigate the social services system. Kitsap Community Resources pays for the rent and all utilities.

Contrary to some concerns, the 9th Avenue home is not proposed to be used as a “homeless shelter.” It’s proposed to be used as a transitional home for a North Kitsap family facing homelessness. A family can live in the home for 90 days. Kitsap Community Resources provides case management services to help the family transition into permanent housing and greater levels of self-sufficiency.

In short, the transitional home program enables a family to have a home while they get back on their feet.

The pressure is on Kitsap Community Resources to improve its background checks and monitoring of residents it assigns to transitional housing. KCR obviously slipped up in its background checks and monitoring of residents of a transitional home on 4th and Viewmont; one person living in the home was not supposed to be living there, and he and a resident assigned to the home were arrested on suspicion of burglarizing a neighboring home and The Loft restaurant.

Because of that incident, as unsettling as it was for the neighborhood, KCR’s manner of conducting background checks and monitoring transitional home residents is undergoing more scrutiny. Mayor Becky Erickson, a KCR board member, got involved and asked KCR to improve its background checks and monitoring.

The incident was believed to be a first for the house at 4th and Viewmont. Unfortunate as that incident was, a transitional home poses no more risk to a neighborhood than a house where someone is a guest until he or she gets back on their feet. If protocol is followed, residents of a transitional home undergo more scrutiny than residents of a rental down the street. Indeed, a traditional renter is accountable to a landlord. A transitional home resident is accountable to the sponsoring church, Kitsap Community Resources and a case manager.

In the past four years, One Church One Family’s Adopt a Home program has helped more than 65 families, with 69 percent moving on to permanent housing. That’s a very good thing.

The program is an important thread in the community’s safety net. It’s also humane. Rather than oppose the use of homes as transitional residences, residents should do what they can to make sure the program is successful, with proper applicant screening and monitoring.

 

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