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Benedict House opens its doors

Homeless men in Kitsap County will have a permanent dedicated facility to turn to this winter and also year-round.

The Benedict House, opening Nov. 1 and temporarily housed in First Christian Church of Bremerton, 811 Veneta until construction on the permanent facility is completed in February. It will replace the previous Homeless Outreach Shelter Team (HOST) program, which has provided sleeping accommodations and meals for local homeless men through the winter months the past three years.

Catholic Community Services (CCS) of Western Washington and architect Briere Construction broke ground on the 6,100 square foot facility in April. It will feature on-site Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, a computer lab for job search assistance, laundry facilities and lockers for personal belongings.

“It’s really gonna look like a Craftsman house,” said Sister Pat Millen of CCS. ‘It will blend in well with the neighborhood.”

The location will be the corner of Rogers Street and Cambrian Avenue. Twenty-five men, including one with children will call the Benedict House home when it is completed. Unfortunately, there is no family facility in the temporary facility and that man will be looking at other arrangements until February.

The HOST program and Benedict House are unique in Kitsap County in that they cater to men. Millen said there are 100 beds in the area devoted to women and children but that men have typically had a tougher time finding available shelter.

Residents of the Benedict House must abide by a zero tolerance policy toward drugs and alcohol. A review committee will analyze cases where residents may be suspected of violating the rule.

The policy is strict, but the firm attitude should fit a facility that is designed to be transitional, helping the residents to find permanent housing through a number of resources. Millen said men may stay between 90 days and 24 months, but those staying longer must be showing consistent and significant progress toward securing a permanent home.

The Benedict House is an example of just one step toward meeting a state mandate for counties to slash homelessness in half over the next ten years. The next official homelessness count for that purpose will take place in January.

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