New resource center for homeless off to busy start | Local
One recent afternoon, Pattrick Chapman walked through the resource center near downtown Yakima, checking on residents and visitors and assuring security is maintained.
“There’s always stuff to do around here, mainly just helping folks, getting them through the metal detectors, security and stuff,” he said as he walked through the facility.
Chapman is the assistant resident manager at the newly erected Rhonda D. Hauff Resource Center, housed in the former Roy’s Market at 201 S. Sixth St.
The center, run by Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, offers temporary housing for up to 37 people and provides case managers who connect residents to services such as health, long-term housing and jobs.
The center also serves as a drop-in site for homeless people still on the streets seeking services or to grab a cup of coffee and visit.
The center focuses on the chronically homeless, those who have been homeless a year or longer, or those who have experienced homelessness multiple times during the past four years.
Most chronically homeless people face several barriers — including substance abuse, mental health problems and physical ailments — that have kept them living on the streets.
Providing services to help them overcome those barriers is the center’s aim. Each resident is required to meet with a case manager three times a week. The manager helps them manage money, seek work or gain job training as well as other life skills, said Neighborhood Health spokeswoman Leah Ward.
“We want them to be successful, so we really wrap the services around them as much as possible,” she said.
Since opening in March, the center has housed as many as 25 people at one time, and helped at least two transition into long-term housing, Ward said.
Currently, there are 18 people including two families staying at the center, she said.
The center has 22 housing units, each resembling a college dorm, as well as laundry, kitchen and bathroom facilities. There’s also a spacious lounge area where there’s a large TV for residents and visitors to relax, drink coffee and socialize.
Getting the center up and running hasn’t been easy. At first, Neighborhood Health wanted to erect a homeless shelter at the defunct market that it purchased for about $600,000 in 2015.
Neighbors opposed the idea, and a former City Council rejected the project despite a hearing examiner’s ruling that it should be allowed.
The project gained traction after elections led to new council members and Neighborhood Health tailored the project’s model more toward transitional housing with wrap-around services.
Neighborhood Health spent nearly $5 million in grants, loans and local donations renovating the building.
Rhonda Hauff, Neighborhood Health’s chief operating officer, said the project is already proving itself.
“It’s up and running and it’s serving the population we intended to serve,” she said. “You never give up, and we have so many success stories that show people are living healthier and leading healthier lives.”
There haven’ t been any problems reported regarding center operations, said Anita Monoian, CEO of Neighborhood Health.
“And the feedback from the neighborhood that opposed it is positive, and that feels good,” she said.
Everyone who comes into the center must walk through metal detectors for security purposes, and there’s a control room where staff members monitor the several surveillance cameras throughout the facility.
For Terry Kimble, the center “is a blessing.” He suffered a stroke, landed in a hospital and lost his low-income apartment in Seattle as result.
Kimble, 53, said he came to Yakima where he has family, but ended up at the Union Gospel Mission, where he suffered a second stroke that’s caused severe paralysis on his left side.
Eventually, he was able to connect with Neighborhood Health and was given a place at the center, where residents can stay up to two years so long as they abide by the rules.
The center opens to the general public at 9 a.m. and residents have a 10 p.m. curfew, at which time the center closes to the public.
Kimble has no problems with the rules. He’s glad to have a warm place to sleep, shower and shave.
“I’d be homeless again if this place wasn’t here,” he said. “I was blessed. I was really blessed.”
Chapman, 43, can relate to those served at the center. He was homeless more than a year ago with his girlfriend, who was pregnant with his baby.
He vividly remembers leaving her at a temporary shelter to go score drugs while she was in her eighth month of pregnancy. They both struggled with meth addiction.
She was gone when he returned, he said.
Chapman said he was worried. She’d never just up and disappear, he said.
She returned later after talking to a case manager at Neighborhood Health.
“We got housed,” he said she told him.
A month later in August, their son was born. They got clean, and he began working clearing walls of graffiti in town in a program jointly operated by Neighborhood Health and the city.
He stuck with it, and the center hired him not long after opening.
He knows a lot of the people who come in looking for help.
“It’s really cool because I see folks coming from where I came from — rock bottom,” he said. “It tells people that in a year from now they can make as much progress as I did.
“I really feel proud of where we are at,” Chapman said of himself and his girlfriend.