Kitsap Rescue Mission, the county’s only year-round overnight shelter for the homeless, will be temporarily closing Oct. 13 while staff looks for another shelter location.
The overnight shelter has been operating on a temporary permit, due to a slow renovation that has been taking place in the building along 6th Street in Bremerton. That temporary permit is set to expire, and due to fire safety concerns, it will not be renewed until the building has been brought up to code.
“To bring it up to code, we need a sprinkler system in the building,” said Nancy Olsten, executive director of Kitsap Rescue Mission. “When people are sleeping there needs to be a sprinkler system.”
The cost to install a sprinkler system would be around $200,000 but the shelter would first need a roof replacement, according to Olsten.
“The City of Bremerton talked to us about resubmitting a grant for a sprinkler system,” Olsten said. “The city is being very supportive and helpful in the process.”
Staff will be meeting weekly with the City of Bremerton to help bring the shelter up to code for sleeping accommodations. Additionally, the shelter’s day room and case management services will remain open for operation.
“I’m wondering where I’m going to go,” Avery Arbuckle said. Arbuckle has been staying at the mission since the end of August. “That’s 26 more people who are going back out on the streets. It’s going to be hard for them to get off the streets because there’s no place to go.”
According to the release, Kitsap Rescue Mission is looking for help from the community for a facility that can provide shelter for 26 guests. Any indoor overnight shelter must have a sprinkler system and easy access to bathrooms.
The mission would also be able to use a church parking lot or field to set up a temporary shelter that would be fenced, staffed, and have hygiene facilities on site.
“It’s our understanding that churches can host services such as this, even when the city or county codes don’t allow it otherwise,” the release states.
Olsten said she is leaning on the community for ideas about where the shelter could be set up.
“I have no doubt we would have community support from the service providers,” Olsten said. “We work with a great community of people with a heart for the homeless. There are people out there with great ideas and who knows what people are going to come up with.”
“It’s really up to the community to respond and then we can pull it together quickly with the help of our partners.”
The shelter was founded in 2009 when two leaders from the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle recognized the need for the homeless on the Kitsap Peninsula, according to their website.
“It’s very respectful around here, very good family environment,” Nicole Payton said, who has stayed at the shelter intermittently for two or three years. “I was devastated, this place has helped me get through a lot of my problems the last few years.”