Nyer Urness House set to provide permanent homes for the homeless in Ballard

Compass Housing Alliance will open the doors to Nyer Urness House (1753 NW 56th St) early next month. This exciting project will provide formerly homeless men and women with safe and comfortable permanent housing.

Compass Housing Alliance is a not for profit organization, established in 1920, that offers services and housing options for people who are struggling with homelessness and poverty in the Seattle area. The organization supports the homeless through providing shelters, transitional housing, permanent housing and by developing affordable housing units for tenants with low incomes.

The My Ballard team was invited to take a sneak peek at Nyer Urness House last week and we were able to see the depth of impact that the project will have on our community.

When questioned about the choice of Ballard as the site for the new project Compass Housing Alliance Capital Campaign Manager Amy Besunder responded quickly. “There is both significant need and support in Ballard for this project. We choose to set up projects in areas that have community support to sustain the services to our residents.”

Nyer Urness House is both an inviting and functional building that has a modern feel. The house will provide homes for 80 chronically homeless people, with residents living by themselves in studio style apartments. The building entrance will be staffed 24 hours a day by a trained social worker working in the role of concierge. “The staff member at the front desk will have an important role to play in the lives of residents in terms of providing support and enforcing the house rules. They will be the eyes and ears of the house,” commented Besunder.

Each apartment will be set up with a bed, household furniture and a kitchenette. Residents will be also be provided with linen and basic items to make their new room their permanent home. In terms of visitors, each resident can invite one guest to their room at a time, with all guests leaving before 10 p.m. each night.

Residents will have the opportunity to take advantage of the important health services provided by Nyer Urness House. The building will house a Neighborcare Health Center where residents and community members can gain access to health care providers who will give them subsidized care. Substance Abuse Counselors, social workers and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous will also be available for residents to help in addressing the complex needs of those who have been living on the streets.

The project also provides vital services such as free laundry facilities and will cater one free meal to residents per day. These meals are open to be catered by volunteer groups in the neighborhood. All groups and community members are welcome to volunteer to provide meals and will be able to use the state of the art kitchen facilities on site at Nyer Urness House. The property features a roof top garden area for residents and staff to relax and connect while enjoying the amazing views out towards Fishermen’s Terminal. Nyer Urness House will also feature a community room, which seats up to 50 people, available for complimentary use by all members of our community.

In terms of the future residents of Nyer Urness House, Besunder emphasizes that Compass Alliance are looking for people who are in the greatest need of permanent housing. The project aims to assist homeless people who, without permanent housing, may face loosing their life. “Nyer Urness House is a serviced enriched project geared to those most in need. The project will give residents a place both to connect and to regain their health,” said Besunder. Residents will be asked to pay 30 percent of their income in rent, which will be nothing for those who are yet to secure a way to earn a living.

Of the 80 apartments, 45 are currently sponsored by local groups, churches, individuals and community organizations. Compass Alliance are welcoming inquiries about sponsorship and aim to have all rooms sponsored by the opening next month. Sponsorship is $1000 to provide all that is needed for one studio apartment. Sponsors have the opportunity to have a dedication signed placed nearby the rooms that they choose to sponsor. If you are interested in sponsoring an apartment click here or contact Amy Besunder at abesunder@compasshousingalliance.org for more information. If you want to donate items to the project click here to see the what is currently needed for donation.

Compass Housing Alliance also welcome volunteers who want to be involved in the project in any capacity. The project needs volunteers this Saturday, March 30 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to assist in arranging the apartments. Nyer Urness House also needs volunteers to assist in making the daily meals once the house is up and running. If you or your organization are interested in volunteering contact Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Freidrich at kfriedrich@compasshousingalliance.org.

Nyer Urness House will host two opening events for the general public.  The official ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 4 from 10 a.m. to noon. This event will be followed by tours of the house for the general public. On Sunday, April 7 a blessing and open house will be held from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Nyer Urness House is a community organization that is sure to have a big impact on both our local homeless community and our neighborhood as a whole. It provides locals with the opportunity to give back and make a real impact on the life of those who have lived on the streets. “This project will allow residents to travel along a journey towards health and wellbeing,” said Besunder.

To find out more about this project click here to check out the Compass Housing Alliance website.

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