Clallam County may extend social distancing center for three more months

Clallam County’s COVID-19 Social Distancing Center will remain open through the end of August if commissioners approve a series of contract extensions next week.

The proposed three-month agreements with the Port of Port Angeles, Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic and Norpoint Tactical would enable Serenity House of Clallam County to complete an 80-bed expansion of its shelter in west Port Angeles and accommodate about three dozen homeless individuals who have been sheltering at the county facility.

“We’re recommending that we move this forward for an additional three months in hopes that Serenity House will have their addition built,” Health and Human Services Interim Director Kevin LoPiccolo told commissioners Monday.

“They hope to complete it by July.”

Clallam County opened a COVID-19 Social Distancing Center in April 2020 to give the homeless population room to spread out during the coronavirus pandemic.

The temporary facility in the Port of Port Angeles-owned 1010 building near William R. Fairchild International Airport is costing the county about $90,000 per month to operate, Commissioner Randy Johnson has said.

“I’m hoping that we’re finished by that (Aug. 31) date, because obviously the alternative is very expensive,” Johnson said in a work session Monday.

“Let’s hope this is the last time we have to discuss this.”

The costs incurred by Clallam County to operate the Social Distancing Center will be covered by federal COVID-19 relief funds, LoPiccolo said.

In a Monday email, LoPiccolo said the Social Distancing Center was housing 35 to 37 individuals per night as of last week.

Clallam County is paying $15,000 per month to lease the 1010 building from the port in an agreement that is set to expire Monday. The proposed three-month lease extension would keep the rent at $15,000 per month.

LoPiccolo said he had consulted with Port Deputy Executive Director John Nutter on the lease extension. The port has potential tenants who are interested in the 1010 building, LoPiccolo said.

“They (port officials) gave me a verbal commitment that three months would be OK,” LoPiccolo said.

The proposed contract extension with Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic has a not-to-exceed amount of $9,346.

If approved, OPCC would continue to provide medical services and case management to guests of the Social Distancing Center.

The proposed contract extension with Norpoint Tactical for security services has a three-month, not-to-exceed amount of $69,140.

The Serenity House expansion was originally scheduled to be completed this month. The project was delayed for permitting issues with the city of Port Angeles, Serenity House Executive Director Sharron Maggard told commissioners last month.

The permitting issues were later resolved, county and Serenity House officials have said.

The two-story Serenity House expansion will nearly double the capacity of the 92-bed shelter at 2321 W. 18th St. The bunkhouse-style building will have 2,000 square feet of shelter space on each floor.

“There will be a lot of work still required, I think, to move everything out (of the 1010 building) and to prep it for the next tenant when there is one,” LoPiccolo said.

“We want to make sure that, when we do turn this building back over to the port, it is in the same condition that we got it.”

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