‘Congregate’ home for young adults coming to PO

A low-cost housing project for young adults attending school or employed has been given the green light to proceed.

The faith-based Amici House, which will offer affordable housing for up to 40 young adults, recently was awarded a building permit by the city of Port Orchard.

The residence is being constructed in a former church building at the intersection of Dekalb Street and Harrison Avenue. The three-story building will soon start renovations and is expected to open in September.

“Young adults are really struggling. A lot of them went through COVID shut in their home. We are trying to create a communal environment for them to live in and build relationships,” said Aaron Bates, a Port Orchard general contractor who is part of the group behind Amici House. “This allows for an affordable method for them to get out from under their parents and be on their own. They are still living in the community, but they are responsible for themselves.”

Residents will be single men and women between the ages of 18-28. Each needs to be working or enrolled in school. Residents will help prepare meals and maintain the place. They will also volunteer to do service projects in the community, such as neighborhood cleanups or mowing someone’s yard. Applicants will go through criminal background checks and require references, Bates added. “We are looking for forward-momentum individuals who have some sort of idea of what they want to do. We are looking to get them on their own, so they become independent and learn how to progress in the world in that manner,” he said.

The house is a “congregate living facility.” Residents will live in one-, two- or three-bedroom units and share bathroom and kitchen facilities. Rents will range from $500-$800 a month, well below the market rate, Bates said. For example, the average rent in Port Orchard for a two-bedroom goes for $1,772, according to Rent.com.

Amici House will be a “dry house.” Residents will be barred from smoking, drinking and doing illegal drugs. “What people do outside the house we can’t control but, in the house, it’s going to be strict in that regard,” Bates said.

The residence will be non-denominational and not tied to a single religion, Bates said. “We are not looking to bring in any specific religious entity to control the narrative. We are just looking for a Christ-centered home to bring values and purpose to the young adults, so they have something solid to stand on as they get out on their own.”

Residents will be asked to participate in bible study groups. “We are not going to be super aggressive on that. We want them to participate in it but if they don’t and if they are still following the rest of the rules, then that is what it is.”

Obtaining the building permit was the final hurdle planners faced before renovations could begin. Workers will begin making $1.5 million in improvements. “We will be doing a full remodel of the building – creating bedrooms, larger bathroom facilities and updating everything,” Bates said. New HVAC and fire prevention systems will be installed, and the building’s insulation will be brought up to energy code.

Social platforms, fliers and a new website will promote rental opportunities. Networking will be done with local church and community groups. The project is spearheaded by Amici House LLC, a real estate development group owned by Bates, his wife Janna Bates, a bookkeeper of the family’s construction company and Andrew and Julie Cain. Andrew is principal at Cedar Heights Middle School in Port Orchard. Julie is a real estate developer in Seattle. All are Port Orchard residents. The company purchased the building for $600,000 in April of 2021.

Meanwhile, the real estate group is also putting together a similar residence in Tacoma. In 2022 the group was among investors who purchased The Poplars, an apartment building in Silverdale. Over 30 apartments were set aside for younger adults, Bates said.