In the wake of Serenity House's demolition, a new home begins

  - Staff Photo/ Brad Camp
— image credit: Staff Photo/ Brad Camp

Refurbishment of the so called "Manzanita House" is under way and could open in September.

Last week Serenity House, which once housed 18 adults with developmental disabilities, was demolished by its new owner.

But on the opposite end of the island, refurbishment work was under way on a new facility to take in some of the residents who were displaced by Serenity's closure.

The so-called Manzanita House, located on Manzanita Road in the Seabold area of Bainbridge Island, is currently being remodeled under the supervision of the Gig Harbor based nonprofit Group Action for Peninsula People (GAPP).

"The purchase of the home is all finalized, the remodeling has begun," said GAPP director Donna Bowen. "Construction workers are in there now and we hope to have it open in September to six clients."

GAPP purchased the property from the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority earlier this year with the goal of creating a new home for some of Serenity's old residents.

The home was purchased with $808,835 in funding from the state Housing Trust Fund. In return for the money, GAPP has committed to provide housing for low-income adults with developmental disabilities for at least 40 years.

The one-story home is now being retrofitted with wheelchair accessibility, lower windows for emergency egress, fire sprinklers, and backup generators and propane tanks for power-outage situations.

"I think, barring unforeseen circumstances, the remodeling portion should be finished at the end of August," said Michael Pollowitz, the director of affordable housing for GAPP. "The next process is to look at people who were displaced from Serenity and to give them an opportunity to move into the Manzanita House."

According to Pollowitz, Serenity's residents were asked before the closure if they would like to remain on the island. The process was conducted by the state Department of Social and Health Services' Division of Developmental Disabilities.

"There were people who indicated they would like to live in the Manzanita House, unfortunately a lot of time passed since then," Pollowitz said. "The DDD needs to go back in the next month and revisit with folks about their interest in living at the Manzanita facility."

GAPP confirmed that the day-to-day operations of the new home will be managed by Hope House, which currently operates the only dedicated home for adults with developmental disabilities on the island.

Although Serenity's closure left a shortfall in accommodation for the island's adults with developmental disabilities, Pollowitz believes Manzanita House will jump start efforts to provide for the island's disadvantaged.

"It really is going to be a nice and safe place for people to live," Pollowitz said. "In a very small way, it will provide long term affordable housing for six people with developmental disabilities. That doesn't solve a bigger problem but it makes a step in the right direction."

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