Patrick Place offers fresh start for once-homeless men and women

  • Written by Christina Novak
  • Published in Local
 Patrick Place Apartments resident Michael Elek, left, speaks while, from left, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Deacon Roy Harrington and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray listen during the Aug. 13 blessing of the apartment building. Photo: Stephen Brashear Patrick Place Apartments resident Michael Elek, left, speaks while, from left, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Deacon Roy Harrington and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray listen during the Aug. 13 blessing of the apartment building. Photo: Stephen Brashear

SEATTLE – A year and a half ago, Charles Lanning was homeless and wandering the streets of Seattle, worrying about “where I am going to be.” Today, with a stable place to live, Lanning walks the streets for leisure, camera around his neck.

“I can focus more time on taking pictures,” he said. “I like to explore Seattle.”

Lanning found his chance for a fresh start when he moved into the Patrick Place Apartments on Aurora Avenue. Opened in January 2014, the 71-unit building is an initiative of Catholic Housing Services and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington to help end homelessness.

“Our outreach to those who need a place to live is part and parcel, an expression, of our faith,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said when he dedicated Patrick Place Aug. 13.

Archbishop Sartain noted that the building is named in honor of St. Patrick, who once was without a place to live. But it is also dedicated, he said, to the memory of longtime archdiocesan employee Pat Sursely, who died of cancer in 2012. Sursely was known for his “deep concern for the poor and for the church’s social mission,” the archbishop said.

Sursely had a hand in the Patrick Place project as a CCS board member and chief financial officer for the archdiocese. His wife, Loretta Sursely, who attended the dedication with other family members, said she was thrilled to see the project come to fruition. Her husband’s goal was “to be a servant of the poor,” she said. “Pat was all about being welcoming and recognizing the dignity of the person. His last year of his illness, he was working really hard to see this happen.”

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter SartainSeattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain sprinkles holy water in a hallway of the Patrick Place Apartments during the building’s blessing on Aug. 13. Photo: Stephen Brashear

Patrick Place was erected on the site of the Thunderbird Motel, which the city of Seattle had campaigned to shut down because of drug activity, said Flo Beaumon, associate director of Catholic Community Services of King County. CCS purchased the property in 2011, tore down the motel and built a four-story apartment building with rooftop gardens and sweeping views of Lake Union and the city.

The city of Seattle contributed $1.6 million to the project in its efforts to reduce homelessness, and Mayor Ed Murray was among leaders who spoke during the building’s dedication.

Patrick Place is open to very low-income men and women, some of whom may be disabled or marginally employed. Of the 71 units, 30 are designated for those who have stayed in emergency shelters for many years but have difficulty securing more permanent housing, according to CCS. The building has a 24-hour staffed security desk, and residents have access to case management services.

After being homeless for four years and living in shelters for two of those years, Clint Olauson moved into Patrick Place six months ago. He said he enjoys the freedom of being able to come and go when he wants, a big change from staying in a shelter.

At Patrick Place, Olauson participates in a peer support group, where residents set goals and participate in activities. Olauson said he wants to “get my health back up to where it should be and build a social life.”

Resident Michael Elek praised Patrick Place’s “extraordinary staff,” its “warm and buoyant atmosphere,” and the sense of community. “It’s just a nice and comfortable place to live,” he said. “We are able to achieve whatever it is we want to achieve. It’s a hand up and not a handout.”