By David Yamaguchi The North American Post
The Africatown at Keiro project held its December public meeting by Zoom on Dec. 16, which was attended by about 24.
Three developments are new there since November.
The facility is open for business.
Eighteen former homeless men are in residence.
It is operating under a new name “Benu Community Home.” New outdoor signage is being planned.
Regarding residency requirements, the basic criteria for entry are “No drugs, no alcohol and no weapons.” Beyond these “low barrier but not no barrier” criteria, residents must be “working toward stability.”
To get in, potential residents must pass a “pre-assessment,” where Benu Community Home is getting help from the City of Seattle in screening candidates. Moreover, there is not a “mad rush” to get in. Benu Home is continuing to follow its earlier plan of “no more than ten new residents per week.”
Nikisha Richardson, Program Manager, pointed out that in choosing residents, their own staff “needs to feel safe.” As several staff are young women, this should help allay the fears of neighbors expressed to date.
To add an additional layer of safety, the facility has a strict 10 PM curfew, when the front door is locked to restrict the night traffic coming to and from the building. There are no night deliveries.
Regarding neighborhood relations, the staff was not aware of any recent neighborhood feedback. June Kubo, a neighbor, thanked everyone who has been involved in the grounds beautification process, which has made “a big difference.”
Concerning needs, Manager Patty Pendgraf said “they are much in need of hygiene baskets.” These include combs, shampoo, and toothpaste, and men’s items such as shaving supplies.
The same can be said for “gently used men’s clothing.” Drop-offs may be made by appointment (888-802-2589).
Besides supplies and clothing, they also need volunteers.
CEO K. Wyking Garrett added, “We also welcome business services that would support both residents and community, for example, coffee service, landscaping, etc.”
Throughout, the staff is aware that they are laboring without realistic hope of longer-term housing options becoming available soon for their residents to move on to. The demand for low-income housing far outstrips the supply.