KCCHA buys Serenity House

The adult group home at Lynwood Center has about 20 residents.

When community leaders and agencies pull together to save your home, that seems pretty lucky.

But in some ways, the residents of Serenity House – a group home for developmentally disabled adults in Lynwood Center – made their own good fortune.

“These people help by being (in the Lynwood Center neighborhood), talking to kids, sweeping the sidewalk,” Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said. “Kids learn they don’t have to fear people who are different. That’s the passion I have (for saving the home).”

The Kitsap County Consoli­dated Housing Authority this week announced the purchase of the care facility, which sits on several acres overlooking Pleasant Beach Drive. Purchase price was put at $1.29 million, toward which the city put $200,000 from the Housing Trust Fund and guaranteed a loan for the rest.

KCCHA in turn will lease it to the Seattle-based Low Income Housing Institute for $100 a year. A nonprofit that provides affordable housing throughout the Puget Sound area, LIHI will manage the facility.

The city and housing authority have looked for a way to preserve the facility since 2002, when long-time owner Ruth Closser said she need to relinquish the burden of caring for clients who require 24-hour supervision.

Closser could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

With the most pressing need – to purchase the property and keep the home – accomplished, LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee says next steps are to find funding to either fix up the 90-year-old house, or build more suitable housing on the property for the residents.

Other ideas, such as adding low-income housing to the property, are also being considered; as it stands, the facility is licensed for 34 residents.

Recently, LIHI held a community meeting about plans for Serenity House.

“I was impressed by the extent of community support (for Serenity House),” Lee said, as in her affordable housing projects, she frequently runs into a “NIMBY” sentiments.

“Because Bainbridge Island is so unaffordable, everyone was sensitive that it would be near impossible to replace in this community,” she said.

Numerous participants cited Kordonowy’s perseverance as key to maintaining momentum during the long process.

Serenity House “is something that’s been on Bainbridge Island for 30 years,” Kordonowy said. “To me personally, it represents the caring of Bainbridge Island we all recognize. As we change in the future, what can we take with use? The core values of our community: being inclusive and tolerant.

“It symbolizes for us the community of the past that we can bring forward to the future.”

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