BREMERTON — Peninsula Community Health Services plans to open a respite medical care center downtown in the former home of the Kitsap rescue mission.
The old shelter building will be transformed into a recovery center that can house up to 22 patients recovering from surgeries and medical treatments, according to PCHS chief executive Jennifer Kreidler-Moss.
The medical care provider, which has added care options in recent years to help treat behavioral health and addiction unrest, was looking for a way to intervene in a housing crisis that has seen rents and home values soar while leaving many without a roof over their heads.
“We really feel like this is the perfect place to get into housing and fill that role,” Kreidler-Moss said.
Several non-profit organizations and agencies had continued building social service projects. Peninsula is in touch for the building with an offer of $995,000, Kreidler-Moss confirmed.
Peninsula is using its own capital funds for the purchase, she said, but plans to seek funding from the Kitsap County Legislature, through fundraisers and other means to procure this. which should represent a total project of approximately 4 million dollars.
Kreidler-Moss told the Kitsap Sun that the organization hopes to open by early 2024.
Respite care ‘a safe place to recover’
Leaders of Kitsap’s social service providers have welcomed the plans, as there is little respite medical care on the Kitsap Peninsula. It is an unaddressed gap that puts a strain on hospitals and treatment facilities in the region that are unwilling to release homeless patients who have not yet fully recovered and, more than anything, poses a risk to the patients themselves.
“It’s a vital resource that’s sorely needed,” said Joe Roszak, CEO of Kitsap Mental Health Services.
Kreidler-Moss said the accommodation will be dorm-like, with a toilet, shower, mini-fridge, microwave and a bed to stay in for up to 30 days.
The Peninsula staff can also arrange accommodation after the stay there, with transportation anywhere in the state.
“They can have a safe place to recover and then they can set up the next stage of their life,” she said.
A change of plan for the old rescue mission building
The rescue mission closed in Bremerton town center in October 2021 after town officials refused to renew its license to operate on fire safety concerns. The organization is currently operates from the Quality Inn in Bremerton while a permanent installation is built on the site of the former location of the Olympic fitness club on Mile Hill Drive in Port Orchard.
The fate of the old building seemed to be headed in another direction. In November of that year, the Rescue Mission’s 810 Sixth St. property was purchased for $645,000 by Tangodoe Properties LLC, a company that had just remodeled what it called the Bremerton Professional Building on the 3400 block of Kitsap Way. “This property (was) 90% vacant and was used by homeless people and drug addicts. It is now fully completed and 100% occupied,” its website says about the professional building.
Company owner Jim Sullivan had been looking to redevelop the building with potential for offices and residences, he told the Kitsap Sun in March. But he expressed concerns about litter and criminal activity near the building and was frustrated by what he said was a lack of response from city leaders.
Sullivan declined to comment on the pending sale to Peninsula Community Health Services because it has not been finalized.
The Salvation Army watches Monica’s purchase
Selling may not be the only property changing hands on the block. The Salvation Army is interested in buying Monica’s social club, sandwiched between itself and the former rescue mission. Salvation Army Captains Lance and Dana Walters hopes to build a food pantry there that will fill a void when the area’s food banks are closed and provide choices for its customers.
“There’s a lot of dignity in people being able to choose their food,” Dana Walters said.
Mayor Greg Wheeler said he was delighted to see the Peninsula move and agreed there was a “great need”.
“It takes a vulnerable citizen and places them in a more stable environment,” Wheeler said.