A common open space will be sited between the two dorm buildings.
A common open space will be sited between the two dorm buildings.

A number of Queen Anne residents got hot under the collar in church on Tuesday, where a presentation for a new 24/7 enhanced modular shelter received little praise.

King County Executive Dow Constantine in August announced three modular housing pilot projects planned to provide more options for temporary shelter. The housing components are manufactured in a facility, and then assembled on site.

A parking lot owned by King County at 531 Elliott Ave. W. will serve as a pilot site for a congregate, or dormitory style shelter facility using these modular structures.

The layout for the enhanced shelter is now in the design phase. Poppi Handy, managing director for architecture firm Third Place Design Co-operative, said project land use and building permits will be submitted to the City of Seattle in mid-January, and the shelter is expected to open in the summer.

The Queen Anne modular enhanced shelter is expected to serve 72 people experiencing homelessness, and will include a full kitchen facility, dining area, bathroom facilities, laundry and case management offices. There will be nine dorms with eight beds assembled into two structures on the site, with a community building that will include the a kitchen and dining area, sited adjacent to a staff building. Access to the shelter will be through a secured entry on Elliott.

The target population is people with behavioral health problems and those exiting homelessness, and will be used by singles, couples and people with pets.

The modular facility has the ability to be torn down and reassembled on another site in the future, and will be permitted for temporary use on the Queen Anne site, said Mark Ellerbrook, regional housing and community development manager for King County’s Department of Community and Human Services. Plans are for the pilot shelter to remain on the industrially zoned site for 2-5 years.

The property has gone unused by the King County Wastewater Division, and will eventually be sold as surplus, Ellerbrook said, adding there has been interest in the site by commercial developers in the past.

Catholic Community Services will operate the enhanced shelter, which will include wraparound services focused on transitioning people into permanent housing.

“That means that that is everyone on staff’s orientation,” said Dan Wise, director of homeless services at Catholic Community Services.

CCS also operates the Aloha Inn, 1911 Aurora Ave. N., a resident-managed transitional housing program that serves 66 adults and couples, and the Sacred Heart Shelter in Lower Queen Anne.

“We operate on the philosophy that everyone is better than the worst thing that they have ever done,” Wise said.

Wise tells Queen Anne News a county assessment process will be used to determine those experiencing homelessness that are most vulnerable when deciding who can enroll to use the shelter.

Representatives from Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles’ office spoke in favor of the new enhanced shelter. Wise said Kohl-Welles was instrumental in getting the Aloha Inn established.

Following a short presentation at St. Anne’s Catholic Church on Nov. 11, attendees were encouraged to visit information stations rather than engage in a community Q&A. A number of residents upset by the incoming shelter circled Ellerbrook to express their concerns.

Lower Queen Anne resident Jeff Hawk said he believes a low-barrier shelter means people will be allowed to use drugs there, adding he feels the shelter model used by the county and city is cruel to the homeless and strips them of their dignity by “subsidizing their homelessness.”

“What are the people doing for my neighborhood?” Hawk said in an interview with Queen Anne News. “What are they doing for my community?”

He said the City of Seattle promised no negative impacts from a shelter opened in the former Seattle City Light Power Control Center, 157 Roy St., but he’s seen an increase in homeless people and trash on the sidewalks around the shelter.

When asked what he thinks would be a better solution, Hawk said agencies should make things uncomfortable, like taxing cigarettes to get people to quit smoking.

“We make it easier,” he said. “This is like the equivalent of, ‘Here’s a carton of cigarettes.’”

Queen Anne Community Council chair Ellen Monrad said QACC could take a stance on the enhanced shelter at its February meeting, but she personally doesn’t see a reason to oppose it. Monrad said she’s happy the site will be staffed 24 hours a day, and she doesn’t feel like the site location will create challenges in that part of the neighborhood.

“Look at it,” she said. “It’s no-man’s land.”

Monrad volunteers with the Queen Anne Food Bank at Sacred Heart, where she sees needy folks who are polite and grateful.

“It’s eye-opening,” she said, “and if we can get them shelter, that would be great.”