Kitsap County closed on purchase of the former Olympic Fitness Club building April 14 to be used for temporary emergency housing programs. The building was purchased for $1.5 million with a combination of state grants designated to create new emergency housing and provide local funding for homeless and affordable housing projects.
“Many in our community struggle to find housing they can afford as the costs surge throughout the Puget Sound region. As prices rise, creative shared housing solutions have appeared. Although limited available housing is still a barrier to finding a place to live, the recent Kitsap Pavilion shelter provides a valuable example for what is possible in South Kitsap," said Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.
The purchase came after a countywide search to find a suitable building. This facility, located at 4459 Mile Hill Drive, was selected for many reasons, including large square footage, its South Kitsap location, access to public transportation and proximity to a wide range of services.
Initially, the Kitsap Public Health District and Kitsap County were considering using the site for community COVID-19 vaccine clinics, but ultimately chose a different site, located elsewhere in South Kitsap.
The county is in the process of assessing requirements to bring the building up to code and what permits will be needed. The permitting process will take longer than originally expected, postponing a neighborhood meeting that was scheduled April 24. The meeting will be rescheduled once the county has firmed up the timeline for occupancy and what permits will require community notifications and opportunities for public input. Neighbors near the facility will be contacted directly when the meeting is rescheduled.
“South Kitsap is home to many people who need access to emergency housing and supportive services. We know the best way to help people get off the streets and out of the woods is to offer them a safe, clean, decent place to live, and connection with supportive services, while they are re-building their lives and transitioning back to stable permanent housing. That’s the goal for this facility,” said Kirsten Jewell, Kitsap County Department of Human Services Housing and Homelessness Division manager.
A website providing information about the project is under construction and will be available at www.kcowa.us/skhousing.