BREMERTON — Residents of a sprawling homeless encampment off Almira Drive have until Friday morning to move out.
The handful of campers who remained on Thursday were breaking down canopies and packing belongings. Several said they were headed to overnight shelters in downtown Bremerton.
"I'll stay here tonight and in the morning I'll make my way down to The Salvation Army," camp resident Gerald Harris said.
Other residents had already found other accommodations or dispersed. The camp was at one point home to more than 20 people.
Volunteers with Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship pooled money to rent a storage unit for two months to safeguard belongings for people moving out of the camp.
"For the short term that will cover their immediate needs," said Jo Walter, who was coordinating the effort.
She hopes to find more people willing to share storage space or contribute to the cost of renting the storage unit. Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housing Kitsap, which owns the 5-acre property next door to Kitsap Mental Health Services, is clearing the camp to make way for an apartment project that will serve low-income households. A number of service organizations, including Kitsap Rescue Mission and Housing Solutions Center of Kitsap, offered support to displaced residents.
Housing Kitsap Executive Director Stuart Grogan said he was grateful for their help.
"They've done a great job of finding places for people," Grogan said.
Housing Kitsap plans to break ground on the Almira Drive apartment complex in 2019 as part of a project that will consolidate the housing authority's sprawling public housing inventory into just three properties. Like the agency's public housing, Grogan said the apartments will serve people with extremely low incomes.
About 70 units will be rented at affordable rates to people earning between zero and 50 percent of median income for the area. Fifty percent of median income equated to $27,000 for a single person in Kitsap County in 2017, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Affordable rent for that single person under government standards would be about $700 a month.
Grogan said crews will begin clearing garbage and underbrush from the Almira site next week.