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KMHS expects no problems at new apartments

The shortage of decent low-income housing has forced Kitsap Mental Heath Services and the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority to build two apartment complexes in Kitsap County.

The complexes are located on Petersville Road in Central Kitsap and on Harris Road in South Kitsap. Each complex will house nine KMHS consumers and be managed and maintained by the Housing Authority.

KMHS officials said clients likely will begin moving into the Petersville Road location Nov. 1.

In addition to the two apartment complexes, KMHS owns 11 homes which are rented to consumers willing to live with a roommate. The homes, ranging in size from one to four bedrooms, are located throughout the county. Rent is based on each client’s income level.

“Most clients pay at least $400 of their $550 monthly Social Security disability income on rent if they are living out in the community,” said Janet Mayberry, director of development and community relations for KMHS.

The tenants will pay just $225 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, according to Julie Graves, housing development director for Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (KCCHA).

“These people are existing on a small amount of money,” Graves said. “This will offer them housing that is much more affordable.”

Officials said there have been few problems with the existing residences, and believe that trend will continue at the new sites.

“Once people get used to it,” KMHS Associate Director Glen Johnson said, “it’s not going to be any big deal.”

Neighbors in the area have been asked to contact KMHS 24 hours a day if they become concerned with actions of the tenants.

Each apartment will be equipped with the standard household fare — a dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, stove and oven. In addition to the eight apartments, each complex also contains a laundry room, community room and office space for visiting KMHS staff.

Unless a new resident already has household utensils — such as dishes, furniture and the like — each apartment already will be stocked when they move in.

“The Kitsap Mental Health Foundation has raised money for household goods,” Mayberry said. “That’s important because people that are living in our houses are doing better than ones living elsewhere.”

To qualify for an apartment in the new complexes, each potential tenant undergoes an extensive screening process.

“A treatment coordinator (who works directly with KMHS clients) must give their approval and endorse the client’s application,” Johnson said. “They will then present the client’s strengths and weaknesses to a triage committee for consideration.”

The triage committee consists of case managers, housing and finance committee members, the service’s day treatment director and select clients. It will evaluate each person based on their current housing situation and whether they would fit in with other tenants.

If the committee approves the application, the client then is subject to a background check. Anyone with a history of violence will not be allowed to live at the new complexes. Neither will sexual predators, drug abusers or drug dealers.

After making it through the screening process, KMHS requires each tenant to sign a contract which forbids alcohol, drugs, illegal activities and weapons on the premises. Breaking the rules can result in an eviction from the property.

Johnson estimated 200 of the service’s 4,300 clients would qualify for the new complexes.

“The problem is that everybody wants to live in the brand-new houses,” Mayberry said.

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