EVERETT – After nearly four years of sleeping in a shelter, 63-year-old Constantino Solorzano has a permanent home.
“I was overwhelmed and happy to thank God,” Solorzano said about moving into Clare’s Place, a Catholic Community Services of Western Washington apartment building for chronically homeless people.
Located in central Everett, Clare’s Place, named for St. Clare of Assisi, offers supportive services for residents of its 65 one-bedroom and studio apartments. The $17 million building, constructed by CCS/Catholic Housing Services, sits on land provided by the city of Everett.
Solorzano and 68 other residents began moving into their apartments in late July. Most of them have been homeless for years, said Alison Ahlgrim, housing program manager for Clare’s Place.
In Snohomish County last January, 1,116 people were living unsheltered, in emergency shelters and in transitional housing, according to the county’s website.
Constantino Solorzano said he is grateful to God for his new apartment at Clare’s Place, a Catholic Community Services supportive housing project in Everett. Solorzano was staying at the Everett Gospel Mission before being selected to live at Clare’s Place. Photo: Courtesy CCS
It’s likely that Solorzano was one of the people included in that homeless count. Before moving into Clare’s Place, he spent his nights at the Everett Gospel Mission, where he volunteered during the day helping with cleaning. He previously worked janitorial jobs.
Solorzano and other residents of Clare’s Place were selected through Snohomish County’s coordinated entry program that prioritizes people based on needs and vulnerabilities, Ahlgrim said. They may have physical disabilities, behavioral health issues or substance abuse problems, said Sarah Jayne Barrett, housing services director for CCS’ Northwest Region.
“We see a lot of people whose body has broken down,” Barrett said.
While staying at the mission, Solorzano said, it was “hard, frustrating and stressful” to deal with his diabetes. In his new home — his first permanent place since November 2015 — Solorzano said he hopes to better control his blood sugar and blood pressure.
Support for residents
Besides having resident counselors on site 24-7, Clare’s Place provides residents with access to case managers who can help them connect with social services, find jobs, learn budgeting and other life skills and contact family members, Ahlgrim said.
To connect residents with health care, Clare’s Place will include a medical room staffed by Community Health Center of Snohomish County to provide an initial point of contact and referrals.
And Clare’s Place offers opportunities for volunteers to connect with the residents by making meals, helping in the garden or offering companionship (see box for details).
Clare’s Place has staff on site around the clock and supportive services to help people who have been chronically homeless get a new start on life. Photo: Courtesy CCS
Funding for Clare’s Place came from the state, the city of Everett and Snohomish County, according to Michelle Umadhay, senior housing developer for CHS. In addition, Clare’s Place received rental subsidy vouchers from the Everett Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Umadhay said in an email.
The building’s apartments were outfitted with donations from the community. Catholic parishes throughout the Snohomish Deanery were among the faith communities that contributed household items, Barrett said. The Everett Quilt Guild made a quilt for each resident, she added.
Clare’s Place is one of three supportive housing buildings that different organizations are opening in Everett this year to serve different segments of the homeless population.
“They now have a place to go and be safe,” Julie Frauenholtz, Everett’s community development director, said of the residents at Clare’s Place. With their newfound safe and permanent homes, “they can start thinking about what they want to change in their lives,” she added.
Volunteer at Clare’s Place
Now that residents have moved in, volunteers are needed at Clare’s Place to make meals, participate in activities (like puzzles and games), help in the garden or be present to offer companionship.
To volunteer or learn more, call 425-535-4020 and ask for Alison or Annette.
Solar panels part of energy efficiency at Clare’s Place
Clare’s Place in Everett isn’t just a safe, permanent home for those who have been chronically homeless — it’s also energy-efficient.
On the roof are 660 solar panels that produce 220 kilowatts of electricity, which should be enough to power the entire 65-apartment building, said Bill Singer of Environmental Works, a nonprofit in Seattle that helped design Clare’s Place.
Catholic Community Services/Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington received a grant from the state Department of Commerce through its Ultra High Energy Efficiency (UHEE) pilot program, according to Michelle Umadhay, senior housing developer for CHS.
Besides the solar panels, energy-efficient features include HVAC sensors in the windows and heat recovery systems in the plumbing, Umadhay said in an email. Singer said the building also has extra insulation, triple-glazed windows, LED lighting and a master switch in each apartment to turn off nonessential appliances.
“We made it our goal for our building to produce net-zero energy,” Umadhay wrote.