… to Kitsap Homes of Compassion!
✅ 12 Shared Homes currently in operation (54 rooms/61 beds)
✅ 2 More Homes planned to be opened in the next 60 days (13 rooms)
✅ 24 More Homes planned to be opened in the next 18 months (120 more rooms)
[URGENT UPDATE: This forecast growth was based on the assumption that KHOC would get some dollars from the County’s $6 million 1/10th sales tax grant funding, for the purpose of hiring 5 Mental Health Professionals to work as house managers for the new homes to be created in 2020. But the County Commissioners voted on 10/14/19 to accept the Grant Committee’s recommendation of zero dollars funding for KHOC for 2020. In response to this crisis, on Oct 15th, KHOC filed a formal written appeal to the County, per the grant’s appeal process. Without funding, these 24 new homes cannot be created and there will be moratorium on opening new KHOC homes in 2020. This means the shelters that currently move residents into KHOC’s program (Benedict House, Kitsap Rescue Mission, Retsil Veteran’s Home, etc.) will more quickly become full to capacity, unable to take more residents, leaving more seriously ill citizens to sleep on the streets and in their cars.]
Established in 2017, Kitsap Homes of Compassion, a 501c3 non-profit, was created to help end the problem of homelessness in Kitsap County using an economically viable process.
Our goal is to create deeply affordable, long-term, supportive housing for homeless seniors, disabled homeless, and homeless mothers with young children in our community; in short – the most vulnerable.
How the Program Works…
This is accomplished through our “Affordable Home Program”. Single men or women, mostly over 55 years old, or disabled, that are homeless, can apply for our program through Kitsap Community Services’ (KCR) Housing Solutions Center. (For disabled homeless on SSDI, there may some age exception for those as young as 40 years old. And the homes for homeless mothers have no age restrictions. In 2020, it is planned to create homes for all age categories, including younger singles and couples).
Members enjoy their own private room, or a shared room, in a nice residential 4 to 6 bedroom home, with shared areas of the house being: kitchen, dining room, and living room. House chores are divided among participants. There are men’s homes and women’s homes. Homes are not crowded, with only 4 to 6 adults per home.
We like to call our homes “family homes” instead of group homes, and participants are “KHOC family members” or “members” instead of “clients” or “participants”. One of our goals is to use many of the concepts founds in the “clubhouse model,” used in the world-famous “Fountain House” run by Kenn Dudek, and “Clubhouse International” – from their over 70 year experience assisting individuals with mental health issues. This includes assisting members get paid part-time (5 to 15 hr/wk) jobs in the community, for those who are physically capable – having an appropriate job helps build self-esteem and confidence. Our plans are to provide members that are interested with computer training and shared computers to the homes (KHOC provides internet Wifi in all homes).
Members also have the support of a Kitsap Homes of Compassion (KHOC) House Manager. The trained and qualified house manager meets weekly with the members in their home, as a group, to help them work together as a house and as a team. The objective of the House Manager is to help the participants not just to survive, but to thrive and enjoy a full and fulfilling life. This is one of the differences that make it “supportive housing” and not just housing.
This Affordable Home Program is NOT designed for people with drug addictions, but rather for individuals (physically able to live independently) needing an affordable place to live, and don’t mind living in a shared home. This program might be good for those with minor physical disabilities, mental disabilities, or minor mental health issues. Shared house living also provides some companionship from other housemates, reducing loneliness, a major challenge many elderly face.
Regarding alcohol use, KHOC operates two types of homes, one is a “zero tolerance” home where all alcohol and intoxication is strictly prohibited anywhere in the home, and a second lower barrier home type, where alcohol can be consumed in moderation in their private room but not allowed in common areas of the home, and being intoxicated in common areas of the home is prohibited.
The program also provides training possibilities for the members to learn more about personal finance, budgeting, group dynamics, and conflict resolution skills.
There are over 1,000 homeless in Kitsap County. Around 400 of those are seniors or disabled without drug or alcohol addictions. We can solve this part of the problem today by creating affordable housing using existing housing inventory. A solution is within reach!
Countdown to end homelessness – 61 formerly homeless singles are now living in permanent homes. We have 339 yet to assist. Estimated remaining homes needed = 68. Estimated time remaining to complete the goal = 2.5 years.
KHOC currently operates homes in Bremerton and Central Kitsap, close to bus stops. Additional homes are in the planning stage in C.K. and North Kitsap, with new homes being added every 3 or 4 weeks. In 2020 we plan to open 2 new homes every month!
The program is designed to be significantly self funding, with the funding coming mainly from the monthly program fee which the participants pay themselves (usually from their Social Security/SSDI/or SSI). The monthly program fee the participants pay is also used to cover all the utilities, cable TV, and internet in the home.
The bottom line is, through the use of trained volunteers which operate KHOC, and the use of these homeless men and women’s own financial resources which they receive through Social Security, we are able to create permanent housing for them at a cost to KHOC close to zero (once the home is up and running)! [When using volunteer house managers]. Our non-covered costs are just the one-time costs needed to start a new home, which runs only approximately $4,000 per home, or $800 per person! It is our goal to try and get the cost as low as possible, to make the program fully self-funding and financially sustainable apart from the need of major donations or large grants. Thus, it will be easily reproducible and scalable. (But for now, we need $4,000 in donations to start the next “new home”).
To start a new shared home, the one-time cost needed (the portion not paid by the participants themselves) is only $4,000!
Scalability is one of the most important factors for any model to be successful. To that end, KHOC does not purchase the home(s) it uses for its program (as that would be too capital intensive, and therefore limiting and non-scalable or reproducible), but rather, KHOC leases existing “single family” homes on the open rental market, at market rates. The homeowner(s) (and/or their management company) are aware of, and agree to, the use of their home for this program – and they receive the same net “rent” as if a single family, or group of sailors, was leasing their home. Fresh homes for lease come on the rental market every week in the county. We believe there are enough homes and/or 3BR apartments available to house all the eligible homeless in Kitsap County – thus potentially permanently reducing homelessness by 70% or more.
KHOC also has a staff training program to prepare future “House Managers” for the future new homes it will be opening. (For more info on becoming a home manager volunteer, please reply using the “Contact” tab). The key to the success of this program is the trained house managers who meet weekly with the residents.
Since starting this program, we have observed how those who were previously chronically homeless, once they have a home, stability, and moral support, have seen their lives changed. About 25% of our participants who had been formerly unemployed for years, now having the stability of a home, have been able to get regular part-time employment – and enjoy the dignity and self-esteem that comes along with that accomplishment. One older gentleman said, “for the first time in 16 years I now have a regular job! It makes me feel energetic like a teenager again! This home has changed my life.” Most of those with mental health issues have seen improvement in their overall function, after having their housing stabilized by having a permanent home. Likewise, those with physical disabilities have seen their condition improve, resulting in fewer visits to the emergency room. Additionally, we have seen very little turnover of residents: since starting in Sept. 2018, about 80% of the current house residents are the original residents! (About 20% have conditions that are too severe to live long-term in shared housing, and end up leaving our program due to repeat house rule violations).
We have a plan to end homelessness, not perpetuate it.
For the population segment of homeless adults that do not have drug addictions (and the majority of them do not have drug addictions), and have a steady source of income of at least $700/mo (i.e. SSDI, SSI, or Social Security), there is a solution to homelessness within our reach – and that is to create more affordable housing options. By assisting those in this category to create shared home communities of 4 to 6 individuals per shared home, then collectively the homeless can afford homes in Kitsap County that the KHOC organization leases at market rates.
For hundreds of years, small groups of people and extended families have been living together in single homes as a solution to homelessness (i.e. extended family homes and boarding homes). It is only in recent history that societies could afford large homes with only 1 or 2 inhabitants. What KHOC is doing is nothing new, but thousands of years old.
Compassion for people is what motivates us to find long-term lasting solutions to the inhumanity of the needless suffering caused by homelessness in our rainy, cold climate of the Northwest. Thus, we are working at creating homes of compassion, a refuge of relief, in a peaceful permanent “home” environment, not a temporary “shelter” (although there is a need for shelters) or institutional environment. The answer for most who are homeless is a long-term supportive home. It is inhumane to allow another human to live unsheltered for the sole reason of them being chronically ill (mentally or physically). As a “neighbor,” it is our responsibility, as a civilized society, to house the chronically ill – at a minimum. If our federal, state, and/or local governments are not able to accomplish this minimal task, it is every citizen’s responsibility to vote in new leadership to accomplish the task and/or, band together and develop systems to house the disabled ourselves.
There is hope!
Yes, being homeless is traumatic. It is traumatic to the homeless individual and it can be traumatic to their family members, their grown children and relatives. Having a serious physical or mental illness or condition is traumatic. But there is hope! Living in a shared home is possible. With help and support, people’s mental and physical conditions can improve. A supportive environment that brings positive change is possible. And as a society, we are not powerless to bring change.
Compassion for the seniors of our society, the disabled of our society, and the chronically mentally and physically ill of our society is needed. It is not a character flaw to have an illness. As an American society we can and must do better at serving our vulnerable, to help and protect them. We must create homes of compassion.
Kitsap Homes of Compassion does not discriminate based on race or religious belief. All are welcome! (DISCLAIMER: While Kitsap Homes of Compassion is a registered private nonprofit charity corporation not associated with any religion or religious organization or church, some of its volunteers are motivated to serve from their personal religious convictions to love and help the vulnerable. Any religious views, thoughts, or opinions expressed by any volunteer or staff person are solely their own opinion and do not represent the KHOC as an organization.)
(For the safety and privacy of the participants, the location of the homes are kept confidential, and the names of the participants are kept confidential.)