Kitsap's only ‘low barrier,’ overnight shelter to close

BREMERTON, Wash. – The only Kitsap County low-barrier homeless shelter offering a warm, dry place to sleep is only weeks away from closing its doors.

The Kitsap Rescue Mission says it's facing a crisis and dozens of their clients could be forced into the streets just as cold weather sweeps in.

The day shelter isn’t in danger as the permit for that use isn’t the issue, according to the mission.

The mission says it helps dozens of people find food, clothing and case management.

And while there are other agencies in the county also helping the homeless, this facility is unique.

“In terms of low barrier, 365 shelter, it’s just us,” said Executive Director Nancy Olsten.

On Thursday, Olsten showed city officials what it could take to bring the shelter up to code and it won’t be cheap.

“We believe that God is in this,” she said. “So, big need, big God.”

The temporary permit that allows the mission to operate an overnight shelter is about to be revoked. According to Olsten, the city says the building needs a working sprinkler system, and it needs one by Oct. 13.

“We’ve got until then to figure out where can we relocate,” she said.

Olsten says they need about $400,000 for a new roof and a sprinkler system could cost as much as $200,000.

“They’re taking people that are way more vulnerable than myself that are going to be thrown out on the street,” said client Jesse Abrams.

Abrams likes to sleep at the mission when he can get a bed, but the need far exceeds the supply.

“You are one of 200 people,” he said. “Nobody’s guaranteed, no matter how many people cling together on the same life raft.”

While the mission continues working with the city, and is looking to apply for grants, it's hoping other local organizations step in to fill the gap.

Plus, even though the weather for now isn’t unbearable, Olsten worries what happens to her clients when the cold and wet season rolls in.

“Where do people go? I don’t know,” said Olsten. “I’m not sure how they survive.”