Live-in shelters to allow more homeless pets
Port Orchard’s first live-in shelter moved one step closer to reality and Kitsap County hired a general contractor to oversee work on the facility.
The shelter, just off SW Mile Hill Drive, is slated to open in November 2024 for 75 residents.
Carl Borg, the county’s housing and homelessness program manager, said conversion of the former Olympic Fitness building into a shelter is scheduled to begin after the first of the year.
“This (shelter) is desperately needed. It’s going to be exciting because it’s going to give people a safe place to be able to bring their pets with them,” Borg said, adding that the $10 million shelter Funding has come from local, state and federal sources. Grants
Borg said the initial task would be to fix the roof leak. Demolition work will proceed. When the interior walls are taken down, an inspection will be done to determine if any structural repairs are needed. There will be upgrading of the electrical system and installation of major sewerage lines. The final phase will include soundproofing and finishing work.
Men, women, families and their pets will live in the shelter. The 20,000-square-foot building is located at 4459 Mile Hill Drive, adjacent to Astound Broadband.
Services provided include life skills training, including learning to write and resume writing. Medical and dental facilities will be on site. Mental health and addiction services will also be provided. Tutors will be available to students. No drugs, alcohol or firearms will be permitted.
Residents will live there, so it will not be a drop-in facility. Residents will be screened by the Housing Solutions Center to ensure they are suitable for shelter. A resident would be allowed to stay as long as needed, Borg said.
The shelter will be the first of its kind in South Kitsap and is comparable in size to the Salvation Army shelter in Bremerton and the homeless program at the Quality Inn, Borg said.
The Kitsap Rescue Mission will operate the facility. The nonprofit operated a shelter at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds during COVID and currently oversees the program at the Quality Inn.
The Port Orchard shelter will be unique in that pets are allowed. Planners say there will be space for 20 animals, mainly dogs and cats. A veterinary clinic will be on site. There will also be day care for the animals.
Pet housing is expected to convince more people to stay at the shelter. Borg said many people living on the streets had turned down offers of asylum because they refused to be separated from their beloved friends.
“Pets are very important to most people. If you have to live in a tent with a pet or live without your pet, most people would rather live in a tent. We don’t want that. It became an obstacle,” he said.
The shelter was initially opposed by the Mile Hill Public Safety Organization. The group, with more than 280 members, disbanded in October after the project’s conditional use permit was approved.
“As things went on, more and more people in our group realized that the government was not working for us in this matter. What they should be doing as a government is to provide safety and security. But that is their focus. “wasn’t the center,” said David Grout, who led the group.
The group’s main objection was that the county did not evaluate whether the facility would fit safely into the community. Grout said his takeaway from leading the two-year battle against the sanctuary was, “Don’t waste your time fighting the government.”
The county purchased the former gym building in 2021 for $1.5 million. County officials report that the roughly 5-acre wooded site was chosen because it met zoning requirements, was connected to sewer, already contained several restrooms and showers, and had community services. was close to the transport line for