As deadline nears for Ballard Nickelsville to move, new location is not ready

The Ballard Nickelsville camp on Market St. will officially reach the end of its two-year stay on November 18th. But in a meeting with neighbors and the camp’s residents last night, the City of Seattle said the new location — at 3814 4th Ave. NE in the Northlake neighborhood — will not be ready until mid-December.

With winter approaching, the city says Nickelsville is welcome to stay in Ballard until then. But camp residents say they’re concerned that they’d be breaking their promise with the community if they don’t move on the 18th, according to KOMO TV. Neighbors at the meeting said they didn’t mind if campers stayed a little longer.

Another issue is the size of the new location — a plot of land owned by City Light. While 20% larger, campers worry it may yield less usable space than Nickelsville’s current location in Ballard.

Earlier this summer, a city report found that the Nickesville encampments around Seattle have met or exceeded performance expectations. The Ballard location was the first city-permitted encampment, and it serves up to 25 residents at a time.

The city says it’s planning two community meetings on Nov. 16th and 20th to discuss the Northlake site. There’s an existing meeting already planned for Nov. 28 to discuss the Northlake site at 6:30 p.m., UW Fisheries Building — Auditorium 102, 1122 NE Boat Street (flyer here).

We’ll keep you updated.

Nyer Urness House celebrates first birthday

cherylIt has been an entire year since Nyer Urness House (1753 NW 56th St) first opened its doors to provide formerly homeless men and women with safe and comfortable permanent housing.

The team at Compass Housing Alliance are proud of their achievements so far and are excited to celebrate this special milestone with the local community.

Nyer Urness House has assisted 80 members of the local homeless community within the past year, by providing them with a permanent place to call home.

The very first person to call Nyer Urness home was Cheryl (pictured above), who was left homeless after coping with mental illness and unemployment. Cheryl was living in Hammond House, Compass Alliance’s overnight women’s shelter, when she moved into her own apartment at Nyer Urness.

Cheryl had been without a home for four years and now, with her own apartment, she is able to better manage the symptoms of her mental illness. If she needs help or support she is now able to go downstairs and turn to the Nyer Urness staff.

“I owe this place everything,” Cheryl says. “I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed to making this possible.”

According to Amy Besunder, the Compass Housing Alliance Capital Campaign Manager, the first year at Nyer Urness has been “filled with miracles.” These miracles have included watching one resident successfully battle cancer and return safely home in remission to Nyer Urness.

Compass Alliance are currently working on their newest project, Peter’s Place, which serves the homeless community in Seattle’s Central Area.

The center offers fresh, nutritious food, hot coffee, showers, hygiene and laundry facilities and counseling/referral services for homeless men and women. At night, the Peter’s Place opens its doors as an overnight shelter to 40 men and 10 women.

The organization recently launched its $60K in 60 Days fundraising campaign to support the important services offered at Peter’s Place.

“When a person walks through the door, they’re taking the first step on their journey out of homelessness. For as little as $15, you can help provide a welcoming space at Peter’s Place for our neighbors who are homeless,”  says Besunder.

Over here in Ballard it is clear that Nyer Urness House has become a key support for the local homeless community and has had a big impact on our neighborhood as a whole.

“A place to call home and a kind and caring environment can dramatically change a life for the better. We thank the Ballard community for welcoming and supporting Nyer Urness House,” says Besunder.

Happy Birthday Nyer Urness from the team at My Ballard!

SHARE to open shelter in nearby neighborhood

Last November, Our Redeemer’s Church decided to close the SHARE homeless shelter in Loyal Heights after the discovery of a convicted child rapist. This week, SHARE announced that it’s moving ahead with plans to open a temporary shelter in Green Lake, at Bethany Lutheran Church (7400 Woodlawn Ave NE). At a community meeting in the neighborhood last night, the Ballard incident sparked some heated discussion.

Our sister site, My Green Lake, attended the meeting and posted this report.

Coalition reaching out to churches to help ‘homeless car campers’

The Ballard Homes for All Coalition is reaching out to dozens of churches to help “homeless car campers” around the neighborhood.

Back in 2008, the coalition proposed a one-year pilot project for one congregation to host a handful of people, providing them with a place to park and access to hygiene facilities. During the 2008 Sustainable Ballard Festival unveiled the hygiene station above. “That project never got off the ground unfortunately for a variety of reasons though we did a lot of work around developing guidelines for operation of the site, a screening checklist, resident/host agreements, acquiring funding, and, of course, constructing the mobile shower,” Jean Darsie the chair of the coalition tells us.

Now the coalition is proposing that multiple churches help the car campers. “We are taking a new direction this time and reaching out to multiple congregations in Ballard, asking them to take in one, maybe, two vehicles onto their land and offering a level of support to them based on the congregation’s ability or willingness to provide,” Darsie says.

The Ballard Homes for All Coalition is holding a community meeting on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Crown Hill United Methodist Church (8500 14th Ave NW) to discuss this idea. Speakers at the meeting will be Jean Darsie, John Skans from Crown Hill Methodist Church and Sally Kinney from the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness. For more information you can contact Darsie at

‘The Homeless Neighbor’

Seattle’s homeless population stretches far beyond downtown. North Seattle residents and businesses are also struggling to deal with the issue. To see how the community is trying to find a balance, we take you to the streets of Ballard for a raw and compelling look at the problem.

The Homeless Neighbor is the third in a series of stories partnering Next Door Media sites with the nonprofit Common Language Project and students of University of Washington’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class. One of the authors of this story is Christian Caple, the editor of our newest neighborhood site U District Daily.

Continue reading “The Homeless Neighbor.”

Compass Center to start construction this year

The Compass Center, which bought and tore down the house at 1753 NW 56th St (shown below), is expected to start construction on a new facility for homeless men and women this year.

We spoke with Executive Director, Rick Friedhoff, who tells us that Weinstein A|U is currently drawing up the designs for the 80-unit complex. Once the design is approved and a building permit is imminent, which they’re hoping to happen around August, they’ll open the project up to bid. Because the cost of construction has come down, the estimated price tag is $15.7 million, down more than $1 million from a year ago. “You can build more building for the same amount of money than you could a year ago,” Friedhoff says.

Construction is expected to start in October, which isn’t the best time of year to get going on a project, “it’s a function of the financing” Friedhoff tells us.

Once built, the seven-story building will be staffed 24-hours a day by Compass, they will provide on-site case management, and the Reach Team from Evergreen Treatment Services will offer counseling and supportive services, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce (registration required.)

There is an early design guidance meeting scheduled for Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ballard High School library.

Controversial Ballard homeless shelter to close

Our Redeemer’s Church says it’s been unable to reach an agreement with the homeless group SHARE on new screening procedures, so the church has decided to close the homeless shelter in Loyal Heights.

In September, neighbors discovered a convicted child rapist living at the Calvary Lutheran shelter at 70th and 23rd Ave NW. The Level III sex offender was quickly banished, but neighbors demanded that SHARE screen new members for sex offenders. Our Redeemer’s tells My Ballard today that it asked SHARE to conduct the checks, but SHARE “indicated their inability to do so.” Prior to the discovery of the sex offender, SHARE had repeatedly refused neighbor requests for the checks, calling sex offender screening “un-American.”

“I am glad that Our Redeemer’s stepped up and decided to require sex offender background checks, yet disappointed that SHARE wouldn’t take this one simple step to ensure the survival of the shelter,” said one neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. In a statement later this afternoon, our Redeemer’s added:

“Our Redeemer’s is deeply saddened that the process of seeking a more effective entry protocol has at times led to neighbors, church members, and homeless people taking apparently opposite sides, when in fact we are partners in creating safe, compassionate community for all. Most of us want a safe place for people who are homeless to sleep. Reasonable people may disagree on how to reach that goal. Our Redeemer’s asks that all of us involved in discussions about the Calvary campus shelter extend the presumption of good faith to one another and treat each other with respect.”

Our Redeemer’s says no date has been set for the shelter’s closure, and the timing may hinge on SHARE’s ability to find a new location. SHARE has been unavailable for comment.

Neighbors: Make changes at homeless shelter

More than a hundred neighbors who live near the Calvary Lutheran homeless shelter say they want sex offender background checks or the shelter must be relocated or shut down, according to newly-released minutes of a meeting held with SHARE and Our Redeemer’s Church last week.

Last month, neighbors were alerted by the Sheriff’s Department that a Level 3 sex offender was staying at the shelter. After learning the news from the neighborhood, SHARE promptly removed the man, who had been previously convicted of child rape. At last week’s meeting, SHARE said the Department of Corrections was supposed to notify them whenever a sex offender registered with an address that matched a shelter. But a neighbor said she spoke with DOC and discovered the process only works when sex offenders notify the DOC that their new residence is a homeless shelter, as they’re required to do. SHARE said it plans to meet with DOC and the Sheriff’s Department to discuss the breakdown in communications and to establish a better system.

In the meantime, SHARE says it’s not accepting any new residents at the Calvary Lutheran homeless shelter until a “new screening protocol” can be put into place. SHARE also said the screener who questioned the sex offender is no longer working with the organization.

According to the meeting minutes, 146 neighbors in Loyal Heights signed a petition that asked that SHARE begin screening for sex offenders or the shelter should be shut down or relocated. A survey of 78 neighbors found that 96% want a sex offender check. SHARE has refused to conduct sex offender checks as part of the new resident screening — relying instead on the DOC notifications — but they left open the possibility of revisiting the idea.

Neighbors said they want to hear back from SHARE and Our Redeemers by October 8th, but both said that date was too early to come to an agreement on a new entry screening protocol. We’ll keep you updated.

Earlier: “(We’re) more than deeply saddened,” said Our Redeemers