MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County commissioners are exploring a major investment in homeless services, a one-stop shop for those looking for help.
On Tuesday, the commissioners toured a Mount Vernon property owned by Christ the King Skagit church, one of several the county is considering for a homeless services center — a day center, year-round shelter and behavioral health providers in one place.
“Recovery campus is the phrase we’re using,” said Kayla Schott-Bresler, assistant director of county Public Health. “A place for people to access multiple services in the same location.”
She said laundry, showers and safe storage would be available, and Friendship House Executive Director Tina Tate said she is interested in working with the county to provide free meals at the facility.
County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said after the tour that she was impressed with the space. With its existing layout and multiple entrances, she said she could see it becoming a recovery campus without significant changes to the floor plan.
“It’s the first time I’ve been able to envision what the co-location of services would look like,” she said. “It gives me a view of what’s possible.”
The 20,000-square-foot property is located on Riverside Drive and is mostly used for meetings and support groups, said Christ the King Skagit pastor Cliff Tadema. Skagit Valley Healing Rooms leases a section of the building.
Tadema said the church had not been looking to sell the property but would be willing to discuss it if the property was to be used for a philanthropic purpose.
“If there’s a higher and better use for it, we’ll have to explore that,” he said of selling the building to the county.
If the county was to move ahead with such a campus, it would purchase the building and contract with Friendship House and others to provide services.
Though the property is not on the market, Janicki estimated it would cost the county about $2 million. She said the county is exploring potential funding methods.
Schott-Bresler said this kind of facility could cost $700,000 annually to operate, but that would depend on which services are provided.