PORT ORCHARD — Some residents at the Midway Inn in Bremerton still fear eviction after the Kitsap Rescue Mission has relocated its residents to the Quality Inn in Bremerton.
The switch comes after concerns that residents could potentially be relocated since the Midway Inn already housed 50 residents and could not accommodate all KRM and Midway residents. Yet after KRM decided to instead lease the Quality Inn, residents at the Midway are still fearing eviction and are now being denied services they were offered prior to the inn losing the contract, Marwan Cameron, executive director of Gather Together Grow Together, told the Independent.
Nancy Olsten, executive director of KRM, said it was never their intention to displace anyone and that they were initially unaware of the number of residents at Midway. Cameron cites mismanagement on the part of KRM for this confusion. Both Cameron and Deborah Jackson, whose nonprofit Surviving Change serves Midway residents, said Jackson had told KRM and the county from the beginning how many residents were at the inn.
Cameron’s organization started assisting Midway residents with meal service to support Jackson. As tensions rose concerning securing a place for residents needing to relocate from KRM’s current location at the county fairgrounds, Cameron sat in on meetings to ensure Midway residents’ needs were heard.
Before KRM changed course and instead signed a lease at the Quality Inn, Cameron said Midway residents were told by KRM they would either need to leave or be absorbed into the KRM. Policies for residents planning to stay were unclear, and there was concern people would not be able to keep their pets or television once KRM moved in.
Eventually, KRM leased the space at the Quality Inn for $1.3 million, citing the potential displacement of residents. The move was scheduled to take place Aug. 4 when they were to be moved out of the pavilion on the same day. KRM plans to occupy the inn until a new facility on Mile Hill Drive in Port Orchard is completed, which Doug Washburn, director of Kitsap County Human Services, said he hopes will be done by the end of the year.
KRM will continue to provide three meals a day and Peninsula Community Health Services will offer mental health and substance use disorder support. The PCHS medical van will be onsite once a week, Olsten said, and KRM will continue to be staffed around the clock.
Although KRM will have 68 rooms available, not all will be used immediately. Washburn said with state and federal eviction moratoriums lifted, they predict more people will be seeking short-term housing.
Now that Midway has lost the contract, Cameron said his organization has been asked to no longer provide food to residents. One woman he has been advocating for has not been receiving new linens or has had her trash taken out.
When asked if he thinks this is retaliation for the inn losing the contract with KRM, Cameron said if the owners of the Midway’s intent had been to evict prior to this, they could have done that with the eviction moratorium being lifted — but they hadn’t.
Jackson said she is devastated that residents are being denied services.
In response to potential evictions, Washburn again expressed concern for evictions across the county with state and federal eviction moratoriums lifted. Staff at the Midway Inn said they could not comment on the possibility of evictions of residents at this time.