Ketchikan’s City Council will consider an agreement with a local youth services nonprofit in an effort to secure a pandemic-safe winter shelter for Ketchikan’s unhoused population.
The city turned over the former water department warehouse on Park Avenue to Ketchikan Youth Initiatives in 2009 on the condition that the nonprofit use it as a community center. But the youth organization never got the full building up to code.
Meanwhile, advocates for Ketchikan’s homeless population sounded the alarm that the city’s traditional overnight winter shelter in a downtown church basement wouldn’t be able to open this fall. They say there’s just not enough room to separate patrons to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
So, last month, Ketchikan’s City Council voted to take the building back, arguing it hadn’t been used as intended. It offered to pay off the youth organization’s unpaid contractor bills in exchange. Those were initially estimated at about $50,000 but were recently revised upwards to roughly $75,000.
Now, the youth organization has a counteroffer: pay off the contractors, plus another $75,000 for youth programs from a separate nonprofit, Residential Youth Care. That organization would chip in another $25,000 for programming.
All told, the deal would cost roughly $270,000, including $120,000 in upgrades to convert the warehouse into an overnight shelter. The City Council is scheduled to discuss the agreement Thursday.
In other business, the City Council will consider extending a pandemic-related emergency declaration through next March. The initial declaration was approved this past March. It relaxes some restrictions on spending, provides for remote City Council meetings and allows the city manager to close or restrict public facilities as necessary, among other things. The extension needs five votes to pass on the seven-person council.
Ketchikan’s City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The full agenda is available online. The meeting is broadcast on local cable channels and live-streamed at the city’s website. Members of the public can offer testimony at the beginning of the meeting.