KentHOPE

A Home for Every Heart

Frequently Asked Questions

KentHOPE Resource Center for Women and Children

Frequently Asked Questions

How big a problem is homelessness in Kent?

  • In January 2016, the annual One Night Count survey discovered 165 homeless people living unsheltered in Kent. This represents a growing number of individuals, up 211 percent from the 2013 count of 53.
  • Of our 165 homeless neighbors in Kent, 42 were in cars or trucks and 60 were sleeping in bushes or under growth.
  • In November 2015, a homeless state of emergency was declared in King County and continues today.

What is KentHOPE?

KentHOPE is a community organization of neighbors and leaders who work to reduce homelessness in our city. We have existed since 2011, when a group of Kent citizens saw the effects of people experiencing homelessness in Kent who had no day services and few overnight options. Since 2013, KentHOPE has been operating the KentHOPE Women and Children’s Day Center at 9009 Canyon Drive and in 2014, started providing overnight shelter in partnership with local churches. The KentHOPE Day Center is operated by staff from Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, which has 84 years of experience helping people out of homelessness.

What is the new project?

The City of Kent has amended city zoning to allow KentHOPE and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission to build the KentHOPE Resource Center for Women and Children on a portion of land next to the First Presbyterian Church at 9425 S. 248th St. The building will be approximately 6,000 square feet and will be located to the northeast of the church building.

Who will operate the center?

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission will operate the center according to their time-tested guidelines for the smooth operation of a facility for women and children experiencing homelessness. These guidelines allow us to meet the needs of the guests while minimizing the impact on the surrounding community. KentHOPE will provide all volunteers for the facility, many of whom already volunteer at the KentHOPE Women and Children’s Day Center.

If we already have a day center for women and children, why do we need another?

We are serving increasingly large numbers of women and children (an average of 30 women and two children every day) in a very small house of 1,400 square feet. We need a larger space. We now shelter women overnight in 11 local churches and transport the women between the day center and shelter churches. Our new facility would have day services and shelter for the night in one place. We cannot provide overnight shelter for children now, but would be able to in the new facility.

How many women and children will we house at the resource center? Will there be men there? Will fathers be housed?

We are designing the KentHOPE Resource Center to accommodate up to 30 women and their minor (age 17 and under) children. We are uncertain about the number of children who will accompany their moms to the resource center, but anticipate that with the new facility we will be able to effectively serve more children. We are designing a facility that will be flexible for various family configurations, ranging from women with no children to moms with several children. No homeless men will be able to enter the facility and we will not house fathers.

What is the construction timeline?

We estimate the following schedule from the date of approval of the zoning amendment on February 16, 2016.

  • Winter 2017-2018: Lease agreement with First Presbyterian Church and Presbytery; includes survey of property and determination of fair market value
  • Spring 2018: Conditional use permit process, including a public hearing
  • Spring and Summer 2018: Architect programming and design – working closely with City of Kent planning department for code compliance

Our expectation is that construction could begin in spring 2019, largely depending on funding sources and fundraising.                                              

What age range of children will be accommodated?

Only children 17 years old or younger who are accompanied by a female parent or guardian will be will able to get services. Single women who are 18 or older will be served as adults. No males 18 and older will be permitted at the facility.

Where will the homeless people come from?

The One Night Count documented 165 homeless people in Kent. The Kent School District has recently documented 308 homeless children. The purpose of this facility is to assist our Kent homeless neighbors regain a productive life. It is neither likely nor planned for this center to serve persons from other large cities in King County. Those cities have interventions of their own, both current and projected.

Won’t this resource center just bring more homeless people into Kent?

There is no plan to transport homeless people into this resource center and cities like Federal Way and Auburn are well beyond walking distance for someone carrying everything they own. While the proposed center is a vast improvement for Kent, it is small compared to Seattle Union Gospel’s facility in Seattle. Since it will not actually be able to meet all the need that exists in Kent already, it is unlikely to draw people from outside the area. This resource center will help solve the homelessness problem in the Kent area.

The women who have come into the current KentHOPE Day Center have been primarily from the Kent community. This is home. But it is also worth noting that homeless persons who choose Kent often do so in the hopes that getting away from downtown will help them stay clean, sober and safe. So, even if some people do choose to come to Kent for the center they will be coming for the help the resource center will provide

What will they do there? Will they stay all day?

Our new facility is called a resource center because we will offer case management and tangible resources to our guests to help them out of homelessness. This will include:

  • Showers
  • Laundry facilities
  • Clothing
  • Computers
  • Three meals every day
  • Shelter at night

As their critical needs are met, our guests will also be able to receive assistance to obtain a job, receive benefits for their children and develop life skills. The present KentHOPE Day Center has helped 250 women and children find housing and 112 women find employment during the time we have been in operation.

When will the staff and volunteers be at the resource center?

Professional staff will be on site at all hours of operation, with many volunteers every week.

What kind of help will be provided? Who will provide it?

KentHOPE presently acts as a referral to connect guests with agencies in Kent for specialized services: Valley Cities provides a mental health clinic and chemical dependency clinic at the day center, and a Healthpoint nurse comes weekly to check on guests’ medical needs. Other agencies that assist our guests include:

Will we screen the guests?

All guests will complete an intake appointment upon entry, which requires identification, review and signature of the guidelines of the facility and consequences of not following the guidelines, and a background check. Any individual who brings alcohol or drugs on the property, acts violent or aggressive in any way or steals, will be asked to leave.

Are there any restrictions regarding past criminal activity or drug use that would disqualify someone from entering this program?

No, the resource center will help people with all criminal backgrounds except for convicted sex offenders. We understand that many homeless people have issues with the law and we work with them on a relational and skill-based level to promote the desire for life change. The pathway out of homelessness is paved in relationship and only skilled engagement helps.

Will people who enter the resource center be able to continue drinking or using drugs?

No. There will be no drinking or drug use on this property.

Will the resource center attract other homeless people?

No and yes. Most of the homeless populations are dependent upon their current location. Generally, they are not willing to leave the services on which they are vitally dependent. However, those who are struggling to survive or have recently become homeless may seek the services of the new resource center. When new guests arrive, they will be subject to the established registration requirements providing a safe place for the current guests and the neighborhood.

Will the residents of the resource center be long-term or short-term?

Short term – this resource center is intended to provide emergency housing as guests journey out of homelessness. The limit for their stay at the center is 90 days.

Is the center intended to shelter victims of domestic violence?

Domestic violence is often a factor when serving women experiencing homelessness. Because it is not a confidential location, it will not be a “safe house” so will not operate in a capacity that serves women who are being actively pursued by an abuser, as it is unsafe for both the woman and the community. Women actively fleeing domestic violence situations will be referred to domestic violence shelters.

What about the homeless men in our community?

The KentHOPE community leaders continue to work for solutions to get homeless men the help they need. There are several sites throughout King County where men can get help, including the Catholic Community Services H.O.M.E. Men’s Shelter right here in Kent.

Will this give homeless women and children in Kent a place to go and a bathroom to use during the day?

Yes to both. The resource center will be open and professionally staffed all day, every day. It will have many day services like restrooms, mail and phone, three meals every day, hygiene supplies, access to showers and the rehabilitative services mentioned above.

How would a day center and overnight shelter make the problem better and not just worse?

You can expect center guests to come and go as they seek our services. Guests will not be allowed to loiter in front of the building or in front of homes in the area. We do not tolerate pan-handling, littering or public drinking in front of or near our facilities. Neighbors are encouraged to report these behaviors to the site supervisor or staff at the center.

What if one of the homeless people IS causing problems for me or the neighborhood?

We become very familiar with each resource center guest and work toward building a relationship which influences productive behavior. If a guest causes difficulty outside the resource center, we do our best to foster a change in behavior. They will feel the effects of their decisions as we remove privileges until change occurs. If change is not visible the guest will no longer be able to stay.

What sort of security arrangements will be made for the shelter?

There will always be at least two on-site staff and several volunteers working when the resource center is open. When operating as an overnight shelter there will also be two staff “awake and alert.” There will be a 10 p.m. curfew when no one can leave or enter the shelter except in an emergency. There will be no car camping in the parking lot and women with cars may not sleep in them, but must come inside to sleep. We provide stability and discipline in the lives of the people we serve. Our effort is modeled on the successful operation of several other such facilities for families in King County.

How will the KentHOPE Resource Center deal with safety issues?

The goal is that because of the center, the whole neighborhood is safer, not just homeless persons. We will accomplish this in a number of ways.

  • First, by having many of Kent’s homeless neighbors sleeping inside, in a safe and staff-supervised environment, the streets are safer for everyone at night.
  • Next, center staff and volunteers will be trained in mental health first aid and de-escalation. They will carefully monitor the area around the center for safety. Illegal and dangerous activity will be reported to the police, particularly drug use or sale. The center must be, and have the reputation of being, a safe place. Only a safe place can achieve the therapeutic value needed to help people overcome the personal brokenness that has kept them homeless.
  • Accordingly, staff and volunteers will engage in regular safety walks inside, around and in the vicinity of the building. These walks occur at all hours, including morning, daytime, evening and night. The sleeping areas and bathrooms are checked twice an hour or more throughout the night by staff and volunteers.
  • Center personnel are available for call-out as a downtown resource. A downtown business proprietor can call the center for assistance with engaging a homeless person, including morning wake-up.

What police reports have been filed for the existing KentHOPE Day Center?

In 2015 there were just three incidents where guests of KentHOPE were accused of perpetrating a crime. These three crimes included a misdemeanor order violation, a trespass violation with resisting arrest, and shoplifting.

How will you deal with litter such as cigarette butts, etc.? How will this resource center affect the value of my home and this neighborhood?

Our goal is that our neighbors would note an improvement in cleanliness with the opening of the resource center. The new building and surrounding landscaping will be designed to look residential, not institutional, and be aesthetically pleasing. There has been no negative impact during the two years that the current KentHOPE Day Center has been open. The people who use the resource center will be responsible, in supervised groups, for keeping the area clean and free from litter. Clean-up and safety walks are a regular part of all Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission facilities. Being a good neighbor is critical to success.

What sort of transportation will be available for the center’s guests?

There is a Metro bus stop close to First Presbyterian Church, and some women have cars. There is also a nearby school bus stop. For the school children, their transportation will fall under the McKinney-Vento Act and they will have their transportation needs provided in that way.

Will the impact of the resource center on the local area be reviewed at a specified time in the future?

We will regularly monitor and review the impact the resource center has on the community and local area and address any concerns that may arise. In addition, we will form a Citizen’s Advisory Committee composed of a First Presbyterian representative, neighbors, KentHOPE board member, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission staff, and at least one guest of the center itself to meet regularly and address any concerns that might arise.

What is the budget for this project? How will KentHOPE get funding?

Day services will cost about $150,000 per year with 24/7 operations costing about $280,000. KentHOPE will conduct local fundraising through partner churches and organizations, and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission will also fundraise for this project through its own network of  individual donors, churches and foundation partnerships. SUGM’s annual budget is roughly $16 million cash, and another $4 million of gifts-in-kind.

What will this project cost the City of Kent? What will it cost taxpayers?

KentHOPE and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission will be completely responsible for the costs of operating the resource center. This includes garbage and utilities, as well as maintenance of the building. The KentHOPE partnership is not asking the city or its taxpayers for any money at all.

What opportunities will be available for the surrounding residents to get involved?

We welcome input and participation from Kent residents. We are connecting with various agencies and churches to provide on-site activities and services, and we currently have several hundred volunteers who serve the women and children of the KentHOPE Day Center. Volunteers are needed to provide on-site activities and cook meals. Donations such as socks and underwear, toiletries, laundry and dish detergent and other household goods are also needed. We hold regular volunteer trainings throughout the year and staff is always available to assist you when you come to volunteer.

If I have a comment or question, what should I do?

At any point, you may send an email to us at info@kenthope.org. If you give us a phone number, we will be happy to call you. You may sign up for our email updates at the same email address and this FAQ will be updated as plans develop. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission’s website, www.ugm.org, will also provide good information about their programs.

 

Download and print a one-page condensed version of these FAQs:

 KentHOPE FAQ Condensed FINAL


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