Close to 80 of King County’s most disadvantaged populations will now have a permanent housing. Plymouth on First Hill, an apartment building built specifically for the chronically homeless, unveiled its room to the public on Friday.
About 30 people have already moved in since mid-September and 47 more, who were referred by the county or Harborview Medical Center, will move in before the winter.
In the three remaining units are live-in staffers who are available to the residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
One of these employees is Michelle Wise-Bailey, who became homeless when she moved to Seattle from St. Louis in 2010. She stayed in shelters and transitional housing for about a year before moving into another one of Plymouth Housing Group’s buildings.
“I mean, it was ‘Wow!’ This is mine,'" Wise-Bailey remembers feeling when she saw her apartment for the first time in 2011.
The unit was similar to the studio apartments at Plymouth on First Hill, which are 290 square-foot units with a kitchen, bathroom, single bed and small dining table and chairs.
“When I moved to Plymouth, I could say this is my own. It’s something I felt like I accomplished,” Wise-Bailey said.
Plymouth Housing Group has helped more than 1,000 homeless adults move into permanent housing. Many of these men and women were homeless for years.
“Some of these folks, 10 years. And it’s not like they never had an opportunity to be in housing before, but it was the wrong housing. It wasn't really set up to deal with those issues,” Plymouth Housing Group Executive Director Paul Lambros said.
He says people moving into Plymouth on First Hill have the most needs, including mental health and substance abuse conditions.
“It’s really not a goal to get people out. It really depends on need,” Lambros said.
Tenants do have to pay rent: about 30 percent of their monthly income, which mostly comes from disability insurance or social security. The rest of the building’s operations are covered by Section 8 Housing Vouchers, according to Lambros.
“Once we find a place for people to live -- not just a place but a supportive environment where you're welcome, where it truly feels like home -- that your recovery starts immediately,” Darcy Jeffe, chief of nursing and patient care at Harborview Medical Center, a partner of Plymouth’s.
KING 5 anchors Joyce Taylor and Michelle Li will be hosting “Make a Difference Day” on Saturday, October 28. Volunteers will be decorating the new building to welcome residents. Visit www.makeadifferenceday.com to find a project near you.