Not All There Podcast

Not All There Podcast #5 - Complexities of Housing

July 29, 2021 Aric Mackey & Cherish Cronmiller Season 1 Episode 5
Not All There Podcast
Not All There Podcast #5 - Complexities of Housing
Show Notes Transcript

Cherish Cronmiller, Executive Director at Olympic Community Action Program (OlyCAP), talks with Aric Mackey about housing, homelessness, and the current situation in Port Townsend and on the Peninsula. 

Ms. Cronmiller provides context, ideas, and opinions on the various ideas, initiatives, and programs that are working to address the spectrum of housing issues on the Olympic Peninsula.

Also in studio was her sweet dog Penney. 







Aric Mackey:

This is Episode Five of not all their podcast I'm here with Cherish Cronmiller with OlyCAP. Welcome. So where to start? I guess I guess the first question would be yes, your background you are from Ohio?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, so I'm, I'm from Ohio, and I have my undergrad degrees in organizational communication. And I have a law degree and knew that I was going to go into public interest of some form with my law degree. And started at so at Ohio State or the Ohio State University because there was a lawsuit between my undergrad alma mater and my law school, Alma Mater. So, when I did that, I started working at our landlord tenant clinic that we had for students at the time at the university, and, you know, worked as that as an intern and then became Program Coordinator there. And then met someone decided I was going to move to Dayton, Ohio. At that point, I had covered just about all my bases and in Ohio, went to Dayton to work for the housing authority and did their contracts compliance. So became really familiar with invitations for bids and requests for proposals and invitations for bids and requests for qualifications all usually at a federal standard because it was a housing authority. And so also became very familiar with prevailing wage law pertaining to federal law. So which then Davis-Bacon act. So I had been looking at different jobs, different places, and a saw posting for an agency, another nonprofit that was looking for somebody who knew about Davis-Bacon law, reason being is that it was 2008 2009. And so the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act was happening, right, the stimulus. And so the Community Action Agency there had gotten an influx of money to help with weather weatherization program. And, and I can describe weatherization in a minute here. And so I, you know, I went to him, I'm like, Listen, you know, I'm a lawyer, I, you know, bizarrely know a lot about this Davis-Bacon act and what you all need to do with your contractors and your staff. And, yeah, they hired me. And so I started at that agency in October of 2009. At that community action agency, and just continued to evolve, I went from, you know, contracts compliance to director resource development on to the Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and then on to President CEO. And so I became really familiar with community action agencies, I became a certified Community Action professional. And so, yeah, and then fate, fate brought me fate brought me here to the Olympic Peninsula to the community action agency here, you know, my mom lives in Port Angeles, my stepfather's with a nonprofit legal advocacy or legal aid here. And so sort of knew, you know, about life on the peninsula. But when I saw the job posting, I was like, What are the chances? Of course, I took the job for I started job February 3 2020. And so, you know, roughly six weeks before I had to close the doors of the agency because of the pandemic. Yeah, so but, you know, luckily, I didn't have to really lay anyone off, we were able to stay up fully staffed as a matter of fact, you know, because we took on so many other projects, I was, you know, I was so grateful to my co workers that they were willing to step up and step out and really, like, take on some of the stuff that was needed in the community that everyone sort of stand around going, like, Oh, well, you know, who who's gonna do this? You know, and so, I'm like, we can do that, you know, we can do that. That's what community action agencies are here for.

Aric Mackey:

So, so briefly, what is OlyCAP?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, so OlyCAP is Olympic community action programs. It's a private nonprofit corporation. So it is a private entity. And so it's a community action agency, which community action agencies were sort of came about in 1964 as part of the war on poverty. And so they said, Well, listen, we really need local people doing poverty initiatives in the community. So we want this these community action agencies and we want them to, you know, take care of the local needs. And they need to have active participation of low income individuals. So by federal law, community action agencies have a what's known as a tripartite board, it's 1/3 elected officials or their appointees, 1/3 private entity, and then 1/3, low income individuals or somebody democratically elected to represent low income individuals, and community action agencies, you know, across the country. So there's over 1000, across the country, some are public, some are private. In the state of Washington, there's over 30 of them, again, some mostly private here, you know, throughout Washington. And a majority of them focus on things like utility assistance, right, which, you know, we're pretty well known for weatherization, which I mentioned earlier, which is essentially making the home energy efficient, right, if you're going to pay towards the utility bills, you want the home to be as efficient, efficient as possible. So, headstart, early childhood services often sit with community action agencies. And then, you know, it really just depends on the needs of local community, a lot of them are involved in housing, rent assistance, sheltering the homeless, some of them have financial education components, you know, ours has home health care aides, you know, we have a senior nutrition program, we also have the warehouse that supplies the food across the peninsula to the various food banks. It really, at any given time, you know, we're running upwards of 40 different programs, which can involve sometimes upwards of 120 funding streams at any given time running simultaneously. And a lot of a lot of the money that comes to community action agencies is federal dollars that funnels to the state to the community action agency. So we're one of the entities that can have block grants, we have what's known as the Community Services Block Grant, which is different than what the counties often receive in community development block grants. We also can can manage those, you know, because we have to adhere to all the federal regulations Can you know,

Aric Mackey:

So you guys get part of the cares funding?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yes.

Aric Mackey:

How's that money used? So in the peninsula,

Cherish Cronmiller:

yeah, so our cares money. It's, it's been interesting, because, you know, clallam, and Jefferson both use their money a little differently, and what they decided they were going to do, because a lot of them had to spend out certain dollars within a certain amount of time. So the easiest thing for some of the counties to do was to pay some of their payroll for the emergency for the pandemic, and then backfill like those unencumbered or cares act dollars, with other non encumbered, you know, dollars that they had in the coffers. And so, you know, in Jefferson County, they had decided to do this, you know, innner governmental work groups, and then broke them up into like, six divisions. And so our agency, I want to say we got probably close to over $400,000, when you add everything together, because we were helping with the isolation and quarantine rooms, we still are, we helped with some, you know, getting food out on the peninsula. We helped with extra utility dollars and rental dollars before those were available through the state. I mean, you know, some of these things were were matters that needed handled immediately before these moratoriums were put in place, you know, before the state could act. And that's, you know, that's really what you want to see is your local government entities and the local nonprofits being flexible, and adaptive and able to respond quickly in these scenarios. And, and I think sometimes people struggle with that, because they're like, well, there wasn't a public, was there enough of a public process? Was there enough public input was there, you know, sometimes you, you really have to believe and have faith in, you know, the nonprofit's that you support and the, you know, officials you elected to have good sense about what is the highest priority right now. And, you know, I think clallam and Jefferson have done a good job of balancing, you're always going to have needs for individuals who who are struggling, but I think they also gave priority to the businesses, the tourism industry. I think they did other stuff.

Aric Mackey:

Right. So okay, so I guess because we've got the city council Port Townsend city council is heavily focused on housing. That's their issue that they're focused on. Opinion from talking to Tyler. Discussing for the election, I guess I should qualify that. Okay. Okay. So I guess I guess there's some we need to make a distinction because that, you know, housing covers everything from a family of five looking for housing all the way down to living at the lagoon. Right, right. Yeah. And so it's a very, I guess, where does, OlyCAP from one to five on that. Where it Where's your focus?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, so our focus is usually going to fall at people. It's usually oddly income based. So it's going to be people who are at 80% of the area median income, or 200% of the federal poverty level, and down from that all the way to those that have no income at all right? So we're usually working class individuals, or people who are working jobs in yours or Yeah, now, those are our fixed income folks. But then our people who have jobs that just don't pay a self sufficient wage, you know, it might seem like a good wage, but by the time you pay for housing in this area, or childcare,

Aric Mackey:

it does doesn't matter. Right. Okay. So I guess you are, I guess, in that kind of the middle of the bell curve, in that kind of, well, what I'm saying is we're not talking about you guys aren't really working directly with the homeless, or people living in their cars, per se.

Cherish Cronmiller:

No, we, we we also so so from that 200%, or 80%, down all the way down to those who have no and those who so we

Aric Mackey:

could include everybody.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, so we were running the lead the shelter in Jefferson County, which is currently housed at the American Legion. And the agency has been running that for about 12 years now, as my understanding, we are helping monitor the fairgrounds at night, Jefferson County is paying for that the city's contributed some to that joint effort. We, you know, have all these various programs that help provide supports for folks. So, if we need to rapidly rehoused money, we certainly have money for that. But we also help people sustain. So we do help with certain subsidies. We help people, you know, with their utilities to maintain, you know, sometimes we're helping with basic needs, right? We've given out tents and sleeping bags, and those types of things as well.

Aric Mackey:

Okay my hope was, is that I'm peripherally aware of, or at least I've read the different proposals that are floating around and the different ideas and talking to Tyler, who's running for position five for city council and PT, and I've talked to, you know, people I know, and either in government or running out, you know, west of here in Clallam. And I guess I'm hoping for context, and I guess some opinion from your perspective on you know, we've got what the I saw on the I think the leader or the Pdn was talking about how it was either the county or city authorized some sort of lease purchase agreement on the 14 acres by the first round about by Mill road. Then we've got the Cape George proposal by basically pushed by Brotherton county commissioner. And then the myriad of other ideas floating around from the golf course to the fairgrounds to the you know, all these other ones I haven't heard of,

Cherish Cronmiller:

Right. Okay. So the the top the top ideas being floated right now, which really is is the push by the county, the city PT hasn't In my opinion, that that this hasn't been a priority for them, this population hasn't been a priority for them. Now, some of their money goes into the joint oversight board. That's, you know, certainly appreciate it. But they, you know, haven't been interested in having a conversation about utilizing any of their parks or their land or things of that nature and the difficulty being right that the city is the only one that has the public sewer. So anywhere else we go. It's a septic issue, right? indoor water.

Aric Mackey:

Which is complicated,

Cherish Cronmiller:

Very complicated, very expensive, but so can be tying into city. So. So the first area that was sort of looked at was that 14 acres off the first round about sitting behind four other plattes there by Yeah, yeah, the Department of Health Services, things like that. Well, that came in at an appraisal of 1.5 million, which pretty high price tag. And then the city sort of said, um, well, we think maybe it could cost upwards of another million dollars to tie you into the sewer, the septic, yeah, the sewer and runoff and all that stuff. And so that, that's why that sort of area was sort of taken off the table a little bit. So then the county went back and looked and said, Okay, if you cross Mill Road, right, Mill Road is the the line between the city and county, if you cross Mill Road, there's a triangular piece of land between where the sort of trails intersect the Larry Scott and the what's the other one, the parkway, Peninsula, Parkway, one or something? There's five parcels there, you add those together, that comes up with 30 acres, we think the price tag on that is about 600,000. Waiting for the appraisal to come back on it. And that would have to be a septic setup. Right. Now it's zoned. So the biggest pain in the butt about all of this housing is the zoning and permit crap. Right. So it's zoned right now a rural residential 20. Which would potentially depending on what we were out to do at that site

Aric Mackey:

would be a conditional use and a variance on the zoning to put in higher density or higher number of buildings, and then then what zone for

Cherish Cronmiller:

correct, but there's recent laws, you know, on the books of legislation passed, it's gonna have to probably be, you know, settled out in the court or, you know, you know, the legislature's others are saying, if it in any way is zoned residential, you cannot limit affordable housing potentially going in something that is defined as residential, so stop calling it, you know, rule residential, you know, giving that numbers and these limitations about, oh, well, this much commercial has to be on it, or only this amount of allowed, or, well, it can't be supportive housing, but it could be regular housing, you know, all these things that are done to, understandably, you want a good mix right across your communities. That's understandable, especially in high density areas, like in the city, we start to get down to these county areas, you really just need to be looking at a balance between, you know, saving your your natural resources, certainly you want to be doing that. But looking at, you know, what makes the most sense, and really what is affordable. Now, you know, some of the other housing advocates don't agree with me with respect to, you know, sort of my visions for phased housing for the, for the homeless, or the unsheltered. Because, you know, I tend to take a more fiscally conservative approach and that I'm realistic as to what this is going to cost long term and what your ongoing maintenance and service costs are.

Aric Mackey:

Okay, so wait, let me interrupt. So what is being proposed to be put on those sites? Are we talking about Tiny Homes? Are we talking about campsites are we talking about a block house?

Cherish Cronmiller:

So right now what's being looked at for the 30 acres just out of the gate is having to move the fairgrounds people, okay, the fairgrounds people are technically you know, they're at the fairgrounds, which is a campground. The land is owned by Jefferson County, leased to a private nonprofit, the fairgrounds, which makes the majority of its money off those campgrounds. That campground is technically permitted under some type of RV park. So that's a whole nother situation. But right now the eviction moratorium bridge does not apply to them. Jefferson County gave the fairgrounds Association $100,000 for these three months for these folks to stay there. So come October 1, these people need to be out of the fairgrounds. Clock is ticking on those folks. We know we think we have close to about 40 individuals out there. Some of them are in tents, some are in RVs. Some of them prefer to live in tents and RVs. Like, certainly there's a certain population like this is this is their choice, right? We do have working class individuals out there. We've got a few family with children out there. We've got some folks that do have incomes not enough to afford rent around here but enough that they could pay some form of rent. So those are the folks that right now are probably top priority that need to be moved and what do they need? They need a place to park those RVs are put up their tents,

Aric Mackey:

basic sanitation.

Cherish Cronmiller:

We need bathrooms, showers and an ideally maybe a some type of kitchen setup but the bathrooms and showers are the biggest deal. Now the setup Peters so Peters village is on land that OlyCAP leases over by South seven by the United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church down Port hadlock owns the property. OlyCAP has like a perpetual type lease on it because South seven which is a HUD found HUD funded project there's 15 units there for seniors. They moved Peters village there right that was the first 12 Tiny Homes built by the community built project in conjunction with Bayside homes and homeward bound. So those tiny homes were put there under the emergency encampments ordinents. And, you know, gray water storage was brought on site. There's a bathroom trailer that Bayside and OlyCAP paid for mostly Bayside, but we threw in $10,000. for it. Blue bills came and helped with ramps. So so there's a bathroom trailer, the gray water holding, and we've got a kitchen trailer there too. Technically, those based on the emergency encampments really should only be there for six months with an option to extend for another six months. So we're in the option to extend for six months right now come the end of December, those Tiny Homes technically need to move somewhere unless there were changes. Meanwhile, community build has built another 12 homes, and you'll see them right now they're the off San Juan, if you go down San Juan, you can see them they're just sitting where they were being built. Those are supposed to move over to it's around 10th ninth or 10th Street and Rosecrans sits behind one of the nursing living facilities back over there, that land is zoned multifamily. But because it's in the city, it's going to check the box of the one emergency encampment allowed in the city. Right? Even though the encampment allows up to 50 spots, once you only have one of them. So those 12 are going to count now, Bayside eventually, once those move to because Bayside wants to build on that land build affordable housing on that land, you know, like apartments or something. So so the idea would be you know, at for the land off of Mill Road first move to the fairgrounds people, it those that are willing and able, you know, willing to go anyone else in cars or RVs, or tents that wants to come, you know, to that side tiny home, and then move the Tiny Homes, right. And then my goal would be next to build a congregate shelter that's broken out into wings, right? So one wing, which serve singles, you know, men or women, the others might serve couples, men and women, and then families and it'd be a congregate setup so that each of these populations would have like their own kitchen and their own like seating area and their own bathroom setup. But overall, by having it in one location there you you decrease your overall operating costs. You know, then if it were scattered sites and

Aric Mackey:

services can go there. Yeah,

Cherish Cronmiller:

it's it's easy to have services, oversight, everything like that is able to be at one location. Again, not ideal, but based on your overall population, and your counts here and everything else trying to be accomplished. I think really, it's the most feasible. When you look at other projects that have been successful and rural areas with populations similar to the what's in Jefferson County.

Aric Mackey:

What's that population? Ballpark?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Of the like point in time counts, the homeless population usually is running around 200 anywhere from 100 to 200. given them the annual counts, but this counts, you know, it's hard to you can't count the folks that are out in the woods that no one knows about and shacks or RVs, you know, out of sight out of mind. We don't have a count of all the people who are like doubled or tripled up living with friends or family in places who really shouldn't be that many people shouldn't be living at that location that and people live in RVs and sheds on people's land that aren't technically permitted.

Aric Mackey:

But okay, so then how does that number compare. Okay. Is there a context to that number? Is that? Is it been? Is it a plateau? Is it? Is it fairly consistent? Do we know? Know that number? Well, has it spike since this the shutdown? Has it? You know what I mean? I just, I'm just trying to get a sense for where that number where it's going,

Cherish Cronmiller:

I think it's been easier to it's been pretty steady. It's, again, there's, there's a lot of problems with the point in time count and what's considered homeless and what's not. In certain years, they've changed that definition. And some years, there's been better is, and but I think, you know, one thing, the pandemic did, right, is that it really showed people, you know, the folks that came, you know, onto the fairgrounds and the folks that we had to house during the pandemic, people could visually see these folks now. Right, see, and hear them and understand some of the ongoing issues with trying to house some of these populations. You know, some of the housing advocates and other nonprofit, you know, certainly understand, you know, I too believe, you know, housing is a right, but some people can't manage their rights, right. And so, some folks really can't be housed, even with permanent supportive housing and on site support. their preference really just is to be, you know, in a tent, well,

Aric Mackey:

varying levels of high maintenance.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah. And some of them have, you know, ongoing, you know, substance abuse, especially at an early age, we know, it causes a type of like permanent, you know, damage to your frontal cortex. And so when you're asking folks, why can't you abide by these rules? You're asking somebody, like, with a broken brain to, you know, trying to adhere to rules that make sense to you and I, so to speak,

Aric Mackey:

But it's not being processed the same? Right. Right. Okay. So then, and then you so then you mentioned that there's the Legions housing is running a shelter in town? Yeah. So I know you're in an ongoing negotiation?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yes. Um, my understanding, as verified by witnesses, is that the current some of the current board of the Legion has no longer has an appetite for the shelter remaining there. They feel like in the 16 years, it's been there. something better should have been brought about just now. Okay, but I don't think that was brought to anyone's attention until the pandemic hit. And I so

Aric Mackey:

let's wait, let's, let's, I don't want to assume that everybody, because I mean, I'm only kind of limitedly aware of what I know that they're running. It's either in downstairs, there's either a downstairs or an uptown upstairs space. I can't I guess. basement? basement space, no windows? No windows`. Okay. And you've got How many? sheltered?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Right now there's 15 people there, but in a cold, cold winter night, there have been upwards of 40 to 42.

Aric Mackey:

And how big of a space?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Not big at all?

Aric Mackey:

I mean, well, I mean, so we're talking basically like barrack setup down there?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, so the beds are arm's length from each other, sometimes even closer, there's sort of like to, like a center room was sort of constructed for the women, for them to try and feel more safe, you know, in that space. But it's, I mean, when I came here and saw that this was the shelter, I was blown away, I was like, this is a pretty, you know, for a rural area, this is a pretty rich, you know, area, high cost of living, you know, high pricing house index, even before the pandemic, to see, usually 20 some folks living in this basement with no windows and arm's length, sleeping arm's length from each other, and no, no living room. There's like a kitchen area, and a little tiny dining room area. And I mean, it's, I think, you know, most people that I take down, they're pretty shocked. It's not what they would picture and we've had some people living there, over 10 years. Some people have been living in that shelter for 10 years. Some of them seven, eight. Now, some of those folks they've been housed before, right, and it's been unsuccessful for one reason or another. These are folks that really do need ongoing sort of supervision and help. And now we've got some of that population, we've got, I think one or two people, one person in their 80s, or at least two in their 70s. And like four in their 60s, we've got, and this isn't to embarrass anyone, but I want people to understand to be able to picture, right, we've got folks in adult diapers, who can't care for themselves, and you can't, you know, you can't tell nursing homes, they have to take these individuals, especially the ones that can't afford, you know, nursing homes only will take a certain amount of those that have to be you know, subsidized or can't make payments. And that's a whole, that's a whole nother show. But you've got an age, a very, it's very interesting to me, you've got a very senior homeless population here. much different than some of the folks you'll see in some of this, the city's urban cities where you'll see more kids and youth and younger folks, it's it's heartbreaking, a lot of ways because he talked with some of these folks. I mean, they had homes, they had families they had in it, it was like one crisis, and then it just all escalated.

Aric Mackey:

Okay, so I'm trying, because there are several agendas afoot, and I can't quite sort out honestly, who the bad actors are. It's just I the only way I can put it, it seems there's obviously a contingent who wants out of sight out of mind, that is palpable, I can pick up on that tone. And that kind of premise.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, bear in mind a lot, some of the homeless that they don't want. They don't like being at the fairgrounds, they don't like the middle people staring at them. You know, some people are like, Well, why are you pushing them off into the woods? Some because we surveyed them, some of them want to be in the woods, like, they want to be away from pointed fingers and people, you know, judging them. So I don't think there's any really nefarious actors, right. I think there's just some folks who, who are good intentioned in some ways, but they haven't done this work. They haven't worked with these people. And sometimes ideas are great on paper. But they don't, they don't work once you, you know, in the real world, in the real world. Yeah,

Aric Mackey:

I totally get that.

Cherish Cronmiller:

And I guess, in some of the people who upset me, you know, like when the cape George idea went out there because, because we were under the clock to move the fairgrounds, folks, right? Like, you got to move them somewhere, put them somewhere, you know, all these people came out, I follow, you know, social media on Facebook, and next door and stuff. Well, I'm worried about this, and I'm worried about that. And I think, you know, I have more respect for the folks who say to me, hey, I've worked hard. I've put my money and I've done the right things. And I don't want to see these people or have them around my area. Because that's, you know, that's what I feel is my right, I have more respect for those individuals than the people who are like, oh, but you know, you're you're putting them without services. They don't really care. They just don't want them to go in their backyard. And

Aric Mackey:

that's what I that's what I, that's what I pick up on is I pick up on the not, you know, the NIMBY, just, you know, I don't, I don't care. just deal with it. After that, I don't care, you know, fine, out of sight out of mind. I mean, I pick up on that, which is, you know, not very helpful but is predictable. So you've got, you know, the cape George, I know what that was gonna be next door to their county assessor. He lives there. Jeff Chapman is gonna he was gonna be neighbors. I know, he was not terribly pleased with that idea. And then there's a group in the cape George colony, I know that is pretty hot, and you know, has their hackles up on the idea and this.

Cherish Cronmiller:

So I mean, that's not that's not a place being looked at now. It was really just trying to locate land that was already cleared. And some of those times. Yeah. I mean, I was floored by the number of people but but there again, at least be honest that you don't, you don't want them there. You don't want to deal with the situation. Don't couch it in that you really care that there's not services or you're worried about fire risk or whatever, especially when I see you all setting off fireworks, you know, in your backyards and stuff. You know, on the Fourth of July, all right, you know, it's like, Okay, are you really concerned or not, you know, any of us that are working in this realm, I mean, nobody's getting you know, you know, rich off of, you know, providing these services. I mean, they're subsidized.

Aric Mackey:

There is That I mean, I've gotten the comments of what we've got so many organizations helping with homelessness, it seems more like an industry. A static industry?

Cherish Cronmiller:

No, I mean, it takes that it takes for people. Well, I understand, but it takes, But that's nonprofits at all levels, in order to handle the situation, you know, the way Bay side's handling it, right. They've got their social enterprise of the hotel, they're providing more transitional housing, they've been supporting the Tiny Homes, you know, they're looking at redoing the Cherry Street project and putting boarding houses there. Okay, you know, dove house is heavily aligned with helping the folks with substance abuse issues and, or substance abuse disorders with you know, and, you know, our agency, you know, we have the, we have the capability and the capacity to do some of these larger projects that need a lot of fiscal oversight, that, you know, really have to look seriously at all, you know, the various files and rules and regulations that are set forth by some of the dollars, right, you know, whereas some of the other nonprofits are, are more used to, you know, dealing with unencumbered donated money,

Aric Mackey:

Your have strings attached?

Cherish Cronmiller:

And so no, you know, there's no, mean our 990 is up on our website,

Aric Mackey:

I'm okay, so let's get let's not, I don't want to go down the rabbit hole I'm just kind of being a dick. So it's, you know, I gotta, I gotta, you know, bring it up, I guess the what are the what? What are the, well, if you had three wishes to resolve, and I'm not saying, oh, everybody has a home and world peace. I'm saying like the three practical concrete things that either the county or the city or the public? What would the three things that the you know, that that that let's say the stakeholders just vaguely refer to all the stakeholders? Like, what are the what are the what are the what are the obstacles? I mean, what are the three things that we can get people living out of the basement, living in, frankly, a shithole at the fairgrounds? I mean, it's a shithole people are dying, it's it's a shithole. The neighbors are getting harassed, endless its it it's a nightmare all around. How do we what are the three things that? You see? Don't get it like? Right?

Cherish Cronmiller:

There is no perfect solution, right? Any solution? Any solution you come up with, is always going to have a backside to it of like, Oh, we didn't, we didn't think about this. Right. I think there has to be a serious look at this zoning, you know, throughout the county and the city to look at what you know, what are you allowing for? What do you want the picture of housing to look like in your community? If If you want this number of nice restaurants and tourism, those people working, you know, taking out the trash or clearing your table, they should be able to live in the community, you know, so that they're not commuting an hour somewhere. So you have to think about, okay, well, where are we going to allow, you know, affordable housing? Where are we going to increase that density in the community to allow for that space to make it happen? And to ease look at some of the permit, you know, issues around, you know, what is required of some of these properties? And Is that really necessary in light of, you know, what you're trying to accomplish here? Um, I think that there has to be a look, you know, same way in the county of, you know, some of the zoning regulations, you know, how many acres what you're allowed to do there?

Aric Mackey:

It's interesting, because it's a, you know, talking to developer and contractor friends that I have, it's funny, they have the same complaints. That that I think and I and I tend to take the stance that we've kind of gotten here because we've spent conservatively 25 years really constraint constraining building and through either zoning, built history stranglehold on permit process, and that's, you know, I, I've heard for 15 years, no 20 years of being in the peninsula or talking to, you know, working with contractors or knowing them. You know, City of Port Townsend was, has been notorious for one of the worst places to deal with to build or to try to get a permit. And I know people recently who've given up on trying to build a house in this town. So I can only imagine somebody with all of the layers of restrictions and to hear that you guys are having the exact same problem. So the same problem to solute solving the solution at your end is the same problem on the other end on the production side,

Cherish Cronmiller:

right? And if you're if you're affecting everything from high end development, to low, affordable housing, small entities, and I think that really says something I think you have to look at. Okay. Why is this? Is this intentional? Because you want to limit your density within the city limits? Okay, well, what point Have you reached your maximum, you know, because don't give people the false hope of, well, there's this empty parcel here, or this building here and what you can or can't do with it, you know, and then you're spending money, you got to pay just to have a cam meeting, right to like, know what's feasible. Now, the city doesn't have a ton of money flowing into it. But they're also as part of the process. If you don't have enough people living here, you're not going to have enough money flowing into the city, you're not going to be able to have the staffing supports necessary to ensure that Yeah, when you call somebody up to ask a question, somebody can intelligently answer you, yeah, that that needs to be this stud needs to be dot dot dot, right. So why, why has it been made that complicated? Has it been to limit, you know, the the number of individuals living on, you know, living in PT or on the peninsula? And how far do you want to take that? And if that's going to be the case, right, then at least be upfront and honest?

Aric Mackey:

Well, they are. And they say that they want that they you know, the people who you know, I mean, I've lived on the peninsula since high school, and I don't want to date myself, but let's call that let's say I've been on the peninsula, or my parents have been on the peninsula for 25 years. And I'm still a transplant. So I acknowledge that. But there's a distinct contingent, of even people who moved here who don't want it to change don't want high density don't want growth. They don't want. I mean, I was reading an article that Houston, for instance, talking about zoning, just as a side, I think was Houston got rid of zoning laws, and they are one of the few major cities in the country that has no housing shortage. They just disposed of zoning, they just said inside this, right, you build it, right. They did put some limitations for like gas stations and stuff like that. But it's like, but then again, they also have the Houston sprawl, and, you know, then you start getting into like, I think, or, you know, anyway.

Cherish Cronmiller:

And I think some of this, not only has the housing crisis brought this to a head, but here's a couple other things that are going to continue to push this issue. One, you have some buildings that are reaching their end of life, right downtown,

Aric Mackey:

all over the peninsula.

Cherish Cronmiller:

And so you have to make a decision, are you going to make it easy to rehabilitate those facilities? Or are you going to let them sit and rot till they depreciate to the point that then somebody picks it up to redevelop it and has

Aric Mackey:

to be done until the math works? Right, right.

Cherish Cronmiller:

By the same token, you know, when you look at the the aging population, you're going to have a number of families who haven't put some of the land in living trusts and things like that, that you'll see in some places. So those properties are going to get probated and what's going to happen, you know when some of these families decide to sell off, and and i think that's going to be interesting, especially if they went ahead and tried to parcel out their land before doing that. And then you've got some other folks, right? They're sitting on empty lots,

Aric Mackey:

but they can't get approvals. They can't get started for a variety of reasons.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah. So what you know what, what is the holdup? And how are we incentivizing people who do have the space for an ADU or have an empty lot and

Aric Mackey:

well see and that was one of the things that came up in another conversation was that it well, if the city of Port Townsend... see there's this there's also there's I think there's some people have kind of a bone to pick that it seems to be a city of Port Townsend issue that the county is kind of jumping in and handling on the behalf and taking the the paying the bill for when the city of Port Townsend could allow RVs on the property, allow ADUs allow any number of things to happen inside their city limits to address the problem and assist the problem, but they are completely silent to let the county flounder honestly. So, I mean, I guess that would be, I think and so I Okay, so let's let's let's separate this out. that we've got to we have a long term problem which we have to supply a supply problem we have people moving in we have population growth with the census shows that for most of the cities, it's a desirable area to live in, you can tell that obviously, it's desirable because of the appreciation of existing homes. So we need to address and then we have to look at, I guess, the supply by category, because not everybody needs a 3000 square foot house, waterfront house or anything like that, we need to look at the the different categories of housing. But that's all on the supply side long term. And that's not an overnight thing. That we have to address the problems to address the supply side. And in the short term, we have people suffering and dying under the current situation, suffering varying levels of definition on suffering. Everything from just struggling working versus at the fairground overdosing. So

Cherish Cronmiller:

or the guy who overheated and died in the QFC parking lot.

Aric Mackey:

Right? That seems unbelievably offensive to me. Because I think that a lot of people are like, well, it's not me. And I think that's, I think that's part of the excuse while they're being bussed in here. I think there's this, you've heard that right. It's like

Cherish Cronmiller:

it blows my mind. I mean, all you have to do is chat with some of these folks. And

Aric Mackey:

especially Come on. No, I'm, that's when NIMBY kicks in. So I guess I guess the A. So you've got these nonprofits, you've got government, you've got also you have, frankly, a ever dwindling pool of contractors and developers in the area that's been happening for 20 plus years. And that, where does that go to that goes from the high schools dropping trades programs. So it's like, there are a lot of seeds that were planted to get us here. So this is not, and I don't think people get that. Because it's like, suddenly, like, how did we get here? Right, and they want the quick fix, because either they're lazy, they're distracted, or they're simple. They don't want, they don't want to get into it, they don't, they don't care that much. And that's fine. But at the same time, I think there has to be some appreciation of that it's not, we need to seriously look at long term it at the same time, that it's gonna take work to get from to fix this. And so like we have this initial problem, or I guess, the current, well, the clock ticking problem

Cherish Cronmiller:

Right, and we have something with these folks in the interim. And that's what I say like, you have to think about what this is going to cost you right and not get to the point where you're you're spending so much on this temporary fix, that you're taking money away from what your long term goal is. Right. And so that's where I think it's always important to be looking at, okay, what is what's the cost of this temporary solution that we're considering? And, you know, what is the long term goal? And what is the steps and the amount of money it's going to take to get us there? You have to be realistic in that. And, you know, it seems for all intents and purposes across t e peninsula. Yeah, for at lea t the past 10-15 years, you know a lot of the housing dollars re just going towards like th s, like, constant band aid, he constant band aid, and you re not making any progress. ou know, I mean, 16 years a o, when, when it was decided th t, you know, you're going to ut folks in the basement of he American Legion, you know, or when they decided to renovate it in 2013 or 2012. And I as finding some receipts for th t. What, what was the, you kn w, what was the thought there as the thinking, Hey, we're do ng this now, but we want to be setting aside the funds so t at at year 10, right, we re potentially looking at invest ng in another space, you know, nd how does that work? And t at takes being willing to set as de those reserves and set t at Money, but then you h

Aric Mackey:

administrative changes, you have priority changes, you have people, you have ambitious politicians who want to use that money for other things. And you've got, let's say, emergencies from overspending. So I can see how the rainy day fund and any plan would get derailed over two or three cycles, election cycles?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, it depends, I mean, some of that those monies have to be, you know, because of the way the tax is coming in, or the money is coming in has to be spent on that matter. Right. So who's checking in watching those types of things to ensure that that's really what's happening here? You know, a lot of the city council, folks, you know, I mean, I was at the event, you know, yeah, the 18th, you know, they, they have some interesting thoughts, right, you have some folks that are pretty, you know, far out there think like, Oh, you know, we could do this or that. And then you have, you know, some establishment folks who like really know, like, how the sausage is made is realistic, like, okay, that's not realistic, what's going to happen is, you know, we're going to sit in, you know, 10 of these, you know, various meetings, and then it goes back and, you know, people like

Aric Mackey:

people like to talk.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yes. So, there is no quick solution.

Aric Mackey:

So, I mean, well, this the city, I think relaxing, which I guess goes to the zoning is the county and the city, looking at what they're doing to contribute to the problem, both short term and long term. I think that there's a lot I think there's an inventory of ADUs, and RVs that could be made and with the economic hardship, I think there'll be people who wouldnt mind collecting 50 bucks a month to rent out the driveway. I know, the city of Port Angeles is looking at that. They're making it easy to streamline and allow RV's and allow RV hookups and, and sewer and clean out hookups,

Cherish Cronmiller:

which is smart, because if you if you were on Facebook, in the last year, you saw some of the streets around serenity house lined with RVs. And people were dumping stuff in the streets, and they were

Aric Mackey:

it's not acceptable. We don't it's it's

Cherish Cronmiller:

but if that one RV was with a person with a home, right with somebody who they're accountable to that, that change that can have an impact that really can have an impact. You know, people don't realize like how one person can really make a difference couldn't wait,

Aric Mackey:

Couldn't there be short term long term win, which is say the city or the county invests in setting up an RV park and I mean, they're legit RV park did capitalize on the the absolute boom in RV travel and road trips that are gonna be on in the long term, but in the short term, we've got a spot for them to hook up their shower facility, I mean, everything you would need for an RV park would look as a thing. And that would, but that's not going to be happening overnight.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Right. I mean, that's the problem is but you know, it, it takes a pretty large investment here to put in those utilities and services needed for an RV park. But I think that you You definitely could utilize more of those in a way of creating you know, money coming back in to the systems, you know, that are necessary to help support those that don't have it. Same with like, you know, a hostel when I got here. I was like, why? Where's hostel? In PT? People told me that I guess there used to be one at fort worden and no. I mean, but you could have guaranteed, like, if I'd had buildings or space, I would have been setting up a hostel almost immediately. Because, yeah, there's plenty of sort of like people that have chosen this like nomadic lifestyle, right? And they'll, they'll pay 10 bucks a night or whatever, to have a place just to take a shower and sleep on a comfortable bed

Aric Mackey:

. So then what about the county, the old campground which I realized that the chimacum high school kids and kids go through but there is that campground there. And there also happens to be I mean, I know RV parks around the area are in short supply as well spaces. But I'm just saying it just seems

Cherish Cronmiller:

the issue of being around schools and kids is a sensitive one and I kept pushing for that park, you know, to move some of the homeless to like schools not in session, just move it now blah, blah, you know, of course now it's sort of like grown up around this the clearing isn't as great. We operate tri Area Community Center next to it, you know, I'm like this is a perfect setup. I could expand this that's But yeah, I mean, that's logistics and then you start to get you know, pushback from folks and yeah, that's

Aric Mackey:

awesome. Yeah. It's as I expected, there's no like, Oh, we just do this and it's fixed. But this one person isn't letting it happen. So I get that.

Cherish Cronmiller:

No, it's, it's, it's a combination of things that create your house of cards, right? And I think that you're right that, you know, people look at things, you know, and say, Well, you know, here's the problem, we fixed it with that, well, then three years down the line, you look back and go, well, damn, we weren't thinking about this, when we put that in place, you know? And what are you doing to now untie that knot? And I think there are a lot of proactive, there's a lot of interesting things being done, you know, across the country, but in other countries and nations too, right? No, it's okay to look at some of those things, and try them. And if it doesn't work, you know, fix it and try the next thing, right? Like not, you can't try to make everything perfect out the gate, you just can't. And I think that's what slows progress so much. That's why, you know, I take a different approach to to running the agency is okay, you know, I say to folks, like, we're gonna try it, this may not work, we'll figure out the bugs. And then we'll reconfigure. And we'll go back out there. We're not doing, you know, neurosurgery. Right, a slip of the knife is not going to, God forbid, kill somebody here, right? We're trying to implement a program and get it out to people, and trying to fix some of the voids in our community. So all we can do is try it doesn't work, change it. Go for it, but just do it. Let's stop sitting around talking about it

Aric Mackey:

well, don't get me started. Um, I get so where's your stance on the say prop one? The the the static tax to pay for homelessness? That goes into the general See, I know I am. There are a lot of people I've talked with who were? Well, Jim was a big, big, big opponent of prop one. And I think it's not so much the I don't think the issue is it's not about not helping people. I think it's the concern, and the the being wary of giving what works out to be a blank cheque on top of a lot of other taxes in the area, to the county or the city to collect these funds. And it just goes into the general fund. And there's no it doesn't seem there's any sort of concrete strings on this money. It just goes into the general fund to be used for vague homelessness. And we see what's happening in LA, we see what's happening in Seattle, we see what's happening across the country. I mean, look at Seattle, and that may well Los Angeles spending like a billion and a half a year on homelessness, and it's only getting worse. So, again, is it money, or is it management? And I think the concern with prop one is this was seen as a blank check for the establishment to just start cutting a check on every stupid little project and the money would just be squandered and no progress. And there was no strings or anything. Or any real oversight other than trust us. We won't break the law.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, I mean, prop prob one was before my time, right, so I'm not as now. I'll admit, coming to Washington. Your tax setup here is bizarre, to me. It's extremely bizarre, the entire system. The amount of tax, you know, being paid for goods and services? I don't know, I think somebody needs to take a hard look at that and say, is this system really working the way we want it to? Now, I take bigger issue with some of the entities that aren't paying taxes or are getting, you know, what I consider corporate welfare or, you know, mega hospitals mega churches that, you know, arent paying their share.

Aric Mackey:

There was okay, so well, we'll get we'll get to that. Is I yeah, I'm kind of with you there. Um, but what do you think about the static, you know, the 1%, either sales tax or property tax that's dedicated funds specifically for homeless programs?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, you know, we've already they already implemented, you know, most recently the point zero, you know, 1%, that was council action, which was very help. Yeah, which was very helpful. Now, here in Jefferson County, you know, the homeless Task Force and the joint oversight board, you know, look at all of those things that are going in, but thank goodness for that money because that's, you know, 600,000 of that's going into the seventh and Hendrix project and now being called south, seventh haven. Here's the new name. People don't understand it to do housing development costs a lot of money, because there are a lot of logistics to deal with a lot of pre development, that costs a lot of money to even be able to pull in those loans and pull in those private funders, you have to have those private development dollars. So, you know, I certainly have seen places where a tax like that has been well used and well allocated. And you can see the results that labor by having brought in tax credit properties or properties that were able to utilize more of section eight funding, which right now is going unused, you know, on the peninsula. And so I think those can be very, you know, positive, good things, when they're thought out, and you're putting the right amount of money and you're not, will you get 10 cents, and you get 10 cents, and you get to know somebody needs to get the 30 cents, and then you move to the next project. Right. And so, I think that's where, you know, people struggle, because they're like, well, that one agency got to do. Well, once that agency builds that one property, and you know, you've got potentially developer fee to roll into the next project.

Aric Mackey:

But you have an epidemically, low amount of trust. And I'd say, there's been a lot of violations of the public trust by both nonprofit and government. At a lot of levels. I mean, you've got the Fort Worden fiasco you've got serenity house and PA and their whole fiasco. You've had these just one hit after another where you were on the peninsula. The peninsula has has has a static, high resistance to both new ideas and new anything and anything ambitious, because time and time again, it's turned into a boondoggle and a farce where a bunch of people and insiders made money, but nothing was accomplished. And we're back to square one and I bring this up with the fiber optic and PA we bring it up with any number of things that are going on. It just there's boondoggle, after boondoggle, after boondoggle, and the only thing that happens is more taxes. And so I think there's this fatigue, and severe distrust more than the peninsula's typical. I mean, the peninsula has always had a history of dealing with charlatans and carpetbaggers that would come into the area, and try to either get into local politics or run some initiative and promised this that or the other thing. And well, 100 years later, I think people are kind of a little, like, skeptical of everything. And then you've got no, it just there's always we always need more. And we always be more. So I think there's a there's a you know, blood from a turnip situation. So I don't know how that it's like I completely understand. I'm just saying that reading the the, and there are a lot of people who are struggling under, you know, well, it's not so much the property tax rate, it's the assessments, and everything else. And it's just everything. It's a thought it's just a death by 1000, needles knives at this point. And so there's a little like, Okay, well, how do we make the math work in an area where median incomes aren't rising? And they're not that high to begin with? Port Townsend's a little better off, you also then have a demographic of most of the voters are 60 and up. So, you know, I'm just saying the situation now where it's like, well, I'm not sure where that how we make the math work. I mean, I understand it's like I see the path, I just don't see that the cards are on the table are available to play.

Cherish Cronmiller:

I mean, I think overall, yeah, there has to be an examination of, you know, all the various taxes that are there currently happening. And looking at whether whether this system is working or not, you know, I'll say, you know, I'm not a proponent of, you know,

Aric Mackey:

income tax.

Cherish Cronmiller:

No, I'm often I've been a proponent of flat income tax, you know, our income tax system is very difficult to deal with, you know, and the last agency I was at, you know, we did tax assistance programs and I assisted low income individuals will you know, do their taxes in Ohio and local taxes, regional tax,

Aric Mackey:

flat wealth tax or flat income tax?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Potentially both I mean, right now, there's so many loopholes and there's so many individuals that and corporations that to me, you know, aren't paying nearly what I'm paying, you know, percent wise of, you know, my you know, my pay me What I end up actually taking home in my pocket is, you know, crazy. Because Yeah, I'm single and don't have any dependents. And, you know, what are we trying to incentivize in our society? You know, what are we giving money and benefits and to end is, is that the outcome we want? I don't know. It's there's a lot of, you know, much smarter people than myself, you know, out there that study this, and look at it and do those calculations. But I think that it's all gonna come to a head, you know, as we sit here, and all of these jobs are sitting empty. Right? I think, you know, we're at a major turning point where people are making a decision in their life, like, is this worth it? You know, is this job worth it? Is this what I've worked for in life? Is this what is making me happy? You know, working with people working in the service industry. It's terrific. I mean, I was a server and bartender, you know, for years, and I think, yeah, we're gonna see a reckoning here. And I think, you know, in the next year will be, you know, very interesting to see what happens with respect to pay, pay scales, benefits. But I definitely think that, you know, if Port Townsend wants to be the place where people come shopping, and come eat, and have, you better figure out a way that, you know, these folks can at least live where their work close to where they're working, or you're not going to have that, and you start to lose some of you know, those nice things that people want, when they come here, you know, it'll take a hit. And you don't you don't want to see that recession based on the strong desire to have, you know, kept, you know, the city or the area, you know, for for the wealthy for the elites, you know? Yeah.

Aric Mackey:

Well, it's interesting, I mean, Well, okay, so then, relating to, I guess, the churches, which own a significant amount of property on the peninsula, and pay now in my understanding of the bargain, and this is always how I described it even to my boys who are kind of when we're getting into taxes and property taxes. And was that the kind of the bargain and I was researching homelessness in the United States. So homelessness in the United States, my understanding is always better, right around 10%. It's fluctuated, plus or minus, but obviously, population grows, that 10% becomes a larger group. But in the past, for instance, in many, many, many parts of the country, you could always get a bed at a police station, and we stopped that in the 70s. You could, I mean, I mean, I'm not going to get into the housing part of that we've gotten rid of the bottom rung of housing, which was the small homes. You know, we've always had this,

Cherish Cronmiller:

and you got rid of institutions in the 80s.

Aric Mackey:

Right. Which, yeah, Reagan did that. And then you have churches would, besides some of the churches that were running hospitals, which was then turned in was corporatized. Um, and is the beautiful system we have today. So you also used to have churches that used to run significant amounts of soup kitchens. And I know there was several years ago. You know, my parents were involved with it, they were reaching out to the churches like okay, well, if there's 100 people in town, and there's, like, conservatively like 30-40 churches in general Port Angeles area, couldn't each of them pick up two or three people on either that property they have or their property that, you know, they have developed? Couldn't there be an you know, because part of the deal with churches was is that it was a community service. So you don't have to pay into the system because you are going to do the, you know, the, the, the helping the, the the underserved or the or helping the the bottom rung, which they always traditionally did. And then you hear the stories. I remember the stories all through the 90s and on about kitchens being shut down because of health violations and discouraged from opening them. So after that rant, where do you see the churches playing a part in? assisting like

Cherish Cronmiller:

I think you have a you have a certain percentage of your churches. That are highly invested in helping, you know, those suffering, right? They they either doing work in substance abuse, mental health, running a soup, kitchen volunteer hosting a hosting NA, some of them are providing allowing their parking lots to be used for people who are sleeping in cars or RVs. You know, some of them open as winter shelters, because the whole thing people don't realize is restrictions have been put on churches in zoning laws and ordinances with respect to how long they're allowed to, quote unquote, house someone, or how long? Or what, you know, if they do allow people in their parking lots, you know, what are the parameters set forth by that, you know, regarding fencing, or bathrooms, or this or that. So we've made things so damn complex that, you know, yeah, some of these churches don't have the administrative support, or, you know, the congregations and will support to figure out like, Oh, well, what are we allowed to do or not do, right? I mean, I started reaching out to the churches to try to see, hey, you know, would would, you know, you all, just one or two of you be willing to take, you know, one or two people in your parking lot. That's it. And you could even define who you wanted there, right? If you just wanted single woman or you just wanted a family, you know, you can make that choice and trying to explain to them their rights and obligations, and whether or not they would fall, you know, under some of the emergency, which I would say, based on Washington legislation, and the goal to not put those types of, you know, difficulties on some of the churches. But where you ran into those problems was big areas like Seattle, right, you'd have like this nice, high rise condo next to this church that's allowing all these folks to live there every day and hang out, and, you know, come and eat. And so they're, there has been, you know, a lot of restrictions put on churches, and I think that it really should be a matter of, Okay, well, what percentage? Is that church giving towards, you know, these these issues in the community? And if they don't choose to do it? Okay, well, then just pay, you know, a certain percentage then of your coffers towards that. But, of course, churches overall, you know, are experiencing downturn in congregations, I think it'll be interesting, in the next year or two, to see if that changes at all, or gets worse as a result of the pandemic. Because, yeah, we know, from, you know, Gen X, you know, down, that there's going to potentially not be those folks that, you know, are giving to congregations and involved in the way that, you know, some of the older generations have been, I mean, you see all these social groups, and, you know, VFW's, and Legions now all of those are suffering from, you know, loss of individuals, because, yeah, that that whole concept in and of itself has changed, right. And so, I feel strongly, you know, that churches, you know, everything has to be similar to developers, if, if you want to come into the area and develop, and you don't want to give any percentage of the units to affordability, fine, then pay a certain percentage of your developer fee to go into, you know, the coffee pot that, you know, is is doing that type of work. Yeah, I think a lot of churches should potentially, you know, go back to potentially some form of, you know, taxation, especially related to the land and, and other things. I mean, some churches take up a lot of like, services, right? I mean, I always tell people, like, you have to look at a city, who is using a majority of, you know, your roads and your streets and your services and the community. And, you know, are they paying or providing support, you know, to those things. And you certainly have, you know, some churches in the community here that are doing more than their fair share of trying to give back and contributing. But, I mean, you look at the Legion, right, so we had an organization called coast, and they relied heavily on the local churches who would come in and each take, you know, a night of doing dinner at at the homeless shelter. Well once the pandemic hit, nobody was coming in that shelter, and we certainly didn't want them to right we didn't want you know, older individuals coming in there and providing, you know, that support and I don't know that, we'll get that back, you know, um, so I don't know, you know, it's

Aric Mackey:

like shit show?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah.

Aric Mackey:

I think that's the technical term Yeah.

Cherish Cronmiller:

I mean, yeah, I mean, I think it's hard to see, you know, certain entities in the millions of dollars and asking, okay, well, what what are we getting? Yeah, what's, what's coming of that? Where's that all going? And why? And, you know, with our agency, right, we have to account for every penny. And it's like, you know, everything has to be coded, you know, exactly to the right program and auditors monitors in all the time, you know, I mean, I think that's sometimes the benefit of utilizing like a community action agency that to use flow through because, yeah, I mean, you come in, you have to see a file, you're going to see, you know, what proof there was that this person qualified for this service? And some people like, you know, well, that's a pain in the ass cuz, you know, these people have to come produce ID copy of their social security card and blah, blah, blah. Whereas, you know, if it's just a church, right, St. Vincent DePaul, for example, you know, if somebody needs something, they just give them the money. They just give him the money, no questions asked No, follow up, no, nothing. You know, which, which is the better system?

Aric Mackey:

So I heard I will talk to a couple years ago, I talked to a Sequim city council woman, and she was telling me about a program that city of Sequim has where they were having people come in, and they were like, well, we need we need money. So they would go to the churches, the problem they were getting, is they would people would go door to door church, the church church and collect 20 or 50 bucks at each spot, and clear town for 500 bucks. So they were like, well, this is a problem. So they decided to set up a fund through the city. So they all kicked in a certain amount each month, all the churches, and then all they have to do is direct people to go down to City Hall and go down to the police station, and they'll help you, they'll give you 20 bucks to have your gas card, it all goes out of this fund. So that got me thinking couldn't that similar situations? Okay, these churches because of zoning, because of whatever in this there. And because of the age of the congregation, I understand that it's like, you know, you if the if the ages, you know, 70 and up or 60. And up it? It's a lot to ask, I think right, um, could similar sort of, kind of ad hoc fund be, I guess, as a community, because I don't know that necessarily, government solves everything. And I don't think that the best part is to say,

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, I mean, we certainly and, you know, I, and we have I'm amazed, you know, we get donations from from churches and from foundations. And they'll tell us, you know, where they want the mind to go, like, we want this to go into senior nutrition, or we want this to go to the homeless, or we want it to go, you know, towards we have like a memory care program. And so they can allocate, you know, just like with any of the foundation's they can allocate if they have a certain area that they want to fund. And so we're certainly grateful, because those are unencumbered dollars, right? So when somebody Yeah, needs a fuel card, and I can't fund it through one of the other grants because they don't meet some type of criteria or don't have ID on them or what, you know, we're able to provide that type of thing. But, yeah, I mean, I think any type of community support that way, you know, we get like the home fund through the peninsula daily news? Well, for a while, you know, there were certain amounts set on that. And like, we had some same people year after year using their fund, almost like a, like bank account, like how much is left in my home fund, you know, like they were allowed $500 for the year. And, and, you know, we had a conversation with the peninsula Daily News this year. And, you know, I wanted to get sense of, yeah, is this meant to be for families or people in crisis, that we can help up to the amount they need to, like, make their situation better, right? Instead of the same people year after year getting, you know, 20 little laundry vouchers or 20, gas cards or whatever, you know, instead of doing, you know, a $1200 car fix, but that car, you know, is valued well enough to be able to provide that fix, and it's going to get that family to work and or kids to school, like, you know, you have to have faith and and I guess you know, yeah, it sounds tough when people take advantage of that, right that that money is being spent for those things.

Aric Mackey:

So how would people I guess, other than talking, how can people assist?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, I mean, I would encourage For people to think about, you know, what, what matters most to them? Right? And, you know, is it that they care about, you know, providing housing for a working class family in the area? Okay. Well, then,

Aric Mackey:

what does that mean though? Like, what would what would you know? Oh, I want to solve the problem. You know, this is you know, is bullshit. I want to fix this. Okay, what should they do? Go down to the Legion kick them? 100 bucks go?

Cherish Cronmiller:

No, no. So they should go. So the housing solutions network, which is was offshoot entity of the Jefferson Community Foundation, they have a page that literally spells out like, if you want to help with the housing crisis? These are the things you could choose to do. You know, you could choose to build an adu. You could choose to not do you your Airbnb or VR Bo, and and make it a rental to a local family, you know, at an affordable rate based on that family's income. Right? You can, yeah, donate to one of the entities that are providing this to subsidize, you know, somebody's housing. Okay, so

Aric Mackey:

and I get that, so then I'm gonna interrupt hour and a half in. So for instance, City of Port Angeles wanted to encourage facade improvements in the downtown core. So they did a matching grant program, which I thought was a really great program until it well got hijacked by morons and turned into a slush fund for bullshit projects. But Originally, the intent was up to 10 grand, you spend it, matching the city approves you. And then when you get done, you submit your paperwork, you get your reimbursement for half. I know three or four building owners early on Who did this? And the buildings are they fixed their brick facades, they did all kinds of things. They fixed the awnings, the some of these buildings look fantastic. And are improved. And could that a similar? You know, could a similar program be set up to encourage because I know like, you know, Tyler talking to him. He's trying to set up but he's trying to convert his he has a downstairs unit, I guess a daylight basement is trying to convert that into a unit. But his problem is the funding issue is converting that to deal with both the permitting and obviously the building and construction costs. Could a grant program be set up? either to the county or whatever, to streamline specific projects like that to either ADUs? Or tiny home? You know, hookups or, you know, I mean, because Tiny Homes aren't that expensive to do to set up a what is effectively an RV hookup. You know, really we're talking about gravel and the panel and you can you know, even if you hire it out shouldn't be more than a couple grand. could could there be a matching program to to to fast track with? and couldn't some of the cares funding and some of the other funding that's out there even the section eight funding Can that be twisted to support this in some you know what I'm saying? Like, is there a way to financially because the power problem is not so much like, there may be the will but the pocketbook. And and I know that you know, just talking to Tyler, I know his thing is both the understanding what he needs to do from a regulatory perspective, but then obviously solving the math problem.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, any of those programs that you're going to create are going to need somebody to oversee it. Right. So that that becomes you know, your first hurdles, like who's going to oversee it? Who's gonna check the criteria? Who's gonna watch that? And then, yeah, where are you potentially getting, you're leveraging or matching funds. And right now, there's a lot of money. You know, one of the reasons that project like millstreet or Jefferson community school, those projects are being streamlined so quickly is because there is funding, you know, coming coming down the pike and if you don't jump on it, you're going to miss it.

Aric Mackey:

And what's JCS?

Cherish Cronmiller:

the Jefferson community, what are they doing? potentially going to convert it into a shelter?

Aric Mackey:

Interesting, and it was, it's up for sale. buying it and?

Cherish Cronmiller:

yeah, the county was gonna buy it. Interesting. Yeah, that's one of the places being looked at so it's being evaluated right now. I have come some concerns about that, you know, how old the building is and certain remodel costs. But you know, if, and I think it's being offered to bayside and or dove house to see if they want to put families or Yeah, utilize it in a specific way. Or, if we have to potentially put some of the Legion folks in there for a year or two before we can build another congregate shelter. We got to figure something out because there is no other place around here. Where there's like bathrooms to be able to put people and have bathroom

Aric Mackey:

So what's the plan B for the Legion folks? There isn't one. So it's,

Cherish Cronmiller:

it's I either figure out something at millstreet to build within the timeframe of

Aric Mackey:

Between now and October?

Cherish Cronmiller:

I'm no, between trying to get a lease signed, or

Aric Mackey:

short term lease bridge, basically and then trying to get

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, the lease term for as long as I possibly can. The other ideas, yeah, potentially. is, you know, to potentially use Jefferson community school. That's, you know, what I was hoping can serve, potentially as a temporary shelter until a better congregate shelter could be built. Where some type of miracle or other buildings gonna have to go up or I don't know what so the waste not want not just went up for sale last week. So, you know, I'll take a look at that I've looked, I've looked at so many places and been shot down so many times because of zoning issues, primarily. And then utilities was the secondary problems I run into.

Aric Mackey:

Interesting. I mean, it's, it's an unenviable problem. It's, yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm, I'm drawing a blank. I mean, I know the city of Port Angeles is, is leasing a hangar from this the port city or the port or Port Angeles, out of the airport, which is not optimal, I think,

Cherish Cronmiller:

no, but we're monitored, you know, so we are the monitors of that there. And there's upwards of 60 people living there. Right now, there's 60 people in there. I think in my last count, I'd have to I mean, I could text my staff member and ask with them. But it's also been very helpful, because it's been the one like isolation quarantine place that if somebody is COVID, positive, or has had an exposure, yeah, we can go in there. No, we know, all the supports are in place to help them. So there's going to be food there. There's going to be showers there. There's going to be medical people there. And yeah, I mean, we really get them set up. And we've gotten quite a number of people stabilized, who weren't doing well or couldn't manage over at Serenity, or we're just outside and don't fit into serenity.

Aric Mackey:

Well, isn't there an opportunity? I mean, there is a military base, an old military base in town with barracks buildings, with a nonprofit that needs the financial input. Isn't there a possibility with fort worden with converting any of those? Didn't they just put in a new sewer system?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Don't talk to me about Fort Worden. I can't even you can't understand my level of frustration and upset regarding that. Because when the pandemic first hit, okay, right.

Aric Mackey:

It was housing for 1919 flu.

Cherish Cronmiller:

I contacted them and said, you know, what can we do? Let's look at places blah, blah, blah, we go and look at places, there's a big dorm, their dorm 225. I said, okay, I think this dorm is the best setup, because it'll have the lowest operational costs, there's multiple wings as a way to bring in food, there's laundry in the basement, blah, blah, blah. Right. So I think this is the best setup for right now. To be able to separate positive, you know, because at that time, right, you're just Yes, guessing what's going to happen. And, of course, none of our homeless ended up really becoming COVID, positive, strong immune systems. So so we're, you know, trying to work on logistics, I've got this money came in from the state, you know, so I'm offering up like, a quarter of a million dollars for it, blah, blah, blah,

Aric Mackey:

you've got money to spend.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yes. And, and I could employ people. I mean, I wanted to employ their folks for

Aric Mackey:

seems like a godsend,

Cherish Cronmiller:

you know, doing laundry helping us, you know, clean helping us do food. Next, Look, I know, you know, there's emails flying between the county and the PD, and between the fort Worden. And it's like, now it's got a $6 million price tag on it, you know, 2 million a month and I'm like 2 million a month for what I don't.

Aric Mackey:

What are you getting for 2 million a month?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, they had reached I think they thought that they were going to get money through FEMA. You know,

Aric Mackey:

so just to run up the bill.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah. And and I said, Listen, I came back and said, I don't even care if you all get approval for all this. I said, I'm not putting homeless people at a price tag of $2 million there. I said because the optics of it are insane. That's not what it costs to run that facility. When you add in, you know, utility He

Aric Mackey:

math doesn't even make sense. Yes.

Cherish Cronmiller:

So don't get. So I kept trying to approach I kept saying, you know, give me 225 I'll give you $300,000 right now. I mean, at any given time I was offering

Aric Mackey:

to the PDA, his board is appointed by the city them $300,000, at least of Port Townsend. It is overseen by the city of Port Townsend. So isn't there, I see a path to resolving and moving a board towards a solution. I mean, it's and now there's a new whole new board.

Cherish Cronmiller:

I don't have any, I don't have any false hope in that because they operate, you know, as this like, what I call quasi government entity, right? The port PDA is all those things are quasi government entities. And they are solely looking at, you know, their contracts, you know, with the state and with the tourism, you know, company, and I'm, it's one of those situations, again, that I am so upset and frustrated about that, you know, when I read in the paper, oh, we're, you know, $250,000 short of payroll or 300. And I'm thinking, no empathy for me, asshole, because I offered that to you. You know, and instead, I gave it to a hotel, who now is doing major remodels as a result of the money they got. I offered we use the fairgrounds for a while, right? Until and even to this day, you know, when I'm looking at other types of rooms, or options for the Legion, I have thrown out there to whomever will listen to me, you know, I will find the money, right. And there's money flowing right now from the feds state. Yeah. Give me one of these buildings, right? This doesn't mean it has to exist, you know, as a as a shelter in perpetuity, you know, I'm asking for a year or two, right till we can build something else, or you have some other viable option, but they're convinced you know, that their conferences are gonna start back up and they've got stuff booked and blah, blah, blah. Bayside was willing to take some other quads units and wanting to put families in. I mean, I offered up so many things and spent such and wasted so much of my time, right, because I started like coming up with rules and like set up plans. And I've done this multiple times now for sites that have been, you know, rejected, or has turned out just not to be feasible. And the fort, Fort Worden upsets me Probably, yeah, it's the highest on my list of upsets, you know, in having tried to manage the situation, because, you know, I had to sit and watch those buildings sit empty, when they could have had money from me, FEMA, the state, you know, my money, right, it's the state and fed money.

Aric Mackey:

But, and I know that they knew it's not officer row, but it's the other set of the rent of the duplexes along towards the cemetery side of the park. And you've got what 205 that was going to be the maker square all those buildings.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well not only that, but I offered them money for the campground. But for the upper campgrounds I said, will give me the upper campground But

Aric Mackey:

you see, I'm saying it's such a big facility that it wouldn't have to affect the waterfront, the Marine Science Center side of the park, or even officer row, or the main parade grounds, or even you really so really behind that whole guard house. And

Cherish Cronmiller:

there were some viable buildings there for sure. I mean, 225 sits on the bluff overlooking the the marine center, right? It's not ideal, but it was the perfect setup, at least for a year or two. Right. And then when I asked for the upper campgrounds and you know, part of that's been a cluster with like the glamping thing, they started to set up and it's been half done. I said, Listen, I'll find volunteers, we'll get it finished. I'll have people up there, you know, we'll get it done. We'll also bring in some of these other services, right that after I, you know, move the homeless out, you'll be able to retain those items. Right. I just don't understand. I don't understand a number of the hotels and other entities and places that I approached offering money and saying, Listen, use this opportunity as a way to get money handle some of the repairs or other items you want to bring in are better services.

Aric Mackey:

There's no tourism now anyway, right. So you're sitting empty, so No, they didn't want to do it. Okay, but what about now? You've got a new board. You have a new struggling?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Oh, at Fort Worden? yeah. Crickets. I haven't heard anything. Nobody's approached me. Nobody has said, boo. I don't think they want any part of solving the homeless crisis there.

Aric Mackey:

interesting. Well, that would be a way people can know I can try. Well, there's got to be something because I mean, we can this is there's this stalemate, right? I mean, we're all just gonna sit and let all these people die when winter comes?

Cherish Cronmiller:

Well, no, they typically will open up, like the cotton building or someplace and they go and sit there for part of the day and the right. And it's money, just like you're spending money on what, you know, people need a bed and just a private room, just give them a room. You know, I just it's frustrating for me, you know, I'm not a huge proponent of the tiny houses. You know, I've been on record as calling them you know, human dog houses, so I won't. I support my partners, right? I'm never going to talk down about partner who's trying to solve a problem. And certainly the volunteers know what's not. Okay, because it costs too much money to maintain the long term. The long term maintenance usually becomes issue. And then dealing with all the on site, you know, utilities and other stuff. A congregate shelters is a better setup, one building where you build out individual bedrooms. You know, back in the day were they were called, like flop houses, right in the bowery district and stuff in New York. But, you know, you make them a little nicer nowadays. And, you know, yeah, you've got a living room. You've a living room

Aric Mackey:

SROs basically.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yep. Yes. Yeah. single room occupancies. Right. There were sometimes called rabbit cages too, because they would have, you know, plywood walls, and then they would put the rabbit cage wire on top. So people can

Aric Mackey:

Well that's classy. At least it feels homey, then. Well, I appreciate you coming on a lot. It's nice to have a get some context, because I think, Well, again, I think it's a lot of talk and I don't think there's legitimate, honest, it's not a simple solution. And I don't think that in and i and i don't think i think there's a lot of elements that don't want to have a simple conversation and talk about this, because it kind of does shed some light on what the city's doing or not doing and roadblocks that they have in place. And I think that there are, I know, there are well meaning people that are trying to do it. I know, there's people who think, you know, county commissioners are doing this, that or the other thing, and I think there's a lot of them that are genuinely trying to find the solution,

Cherish Cronmiller:

I think they're very well meaning and I give the county a lot of credit for being able the being willing to put up some of the money that I

Aric Mackey:

Take a stab at it.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah. And I for something that's not popular, right, it's not popular, it's not going to potentially get them reelected, to be putting money towards this. And they're addressing other issues, too. I don't think they're ignoring all the other problems. But, you know, I think that they are doing their best to walk the walk. And, you know, I just don't think it's as highest priority for, you know, maybe some of the other city or, you know, I think Clallam County, and city of Port Angeles, City of Sequim, you know, are all doing good things. I think they're, you know, trying

Aric Mackey:

So you're surprisingly candid for a director of an organization on the peninsula.

Cherish Cronmiller:

Yeah, but see, I've only been here a year and a half, I haven't learned my lesson of you know, who all get in trouble with, but I just try and be transparent and honest. Right? Like, I know that I have to be, you know, I have to play nice in the sandbox with everyone. Nothing is a beautiful system. The work we do is, is is not fun, it's not pretty. It's not like cute puppy dogs and kittens, and you know, like, put a poster up of some homeless person, you know, and people want to give you money. And they assume the worst. So that's part of why I stay on social media, I created a group on next door of the unsheltered folks to let people know what's going on and to try and combat you know, what people are saying that's not accurate. There's a ton of it. And I know, I can't keep up with it. But by the same token, at least, you know, there's a record somewhere that I tried to tell people honestly, from my perspective, or at least my my seat, right, this is how I know things to be or where I believe they're at, you know, and I know yes, some people are like, Oh, why he talked to the paper about the Legion thing? I think people have a right to know, like, Why hide the fact that I don't have a lease right now. You know, and then I'm being told they don't want that to continue down there. You know, if that's an issue in their membership, well, that's okay. They have to work that out. Right. I mean, I'm grateful for the, the, you know, the 15-16 years they've given but I think people need to to understand that a lot of this stuff is coming to head. And when you see certain groups, you know, I think some groups the other groups getting money for stuff and Why did they get money and get money? You know that the haters? So, you know, I'm happy to be candid about that I know, you know, it doesn't win me, you know, certain fans in some ways, but I believe in the work that we do I stand by what, what we do how the money is spent? And yeah, I believe that transparency and being open is important to people understanding like, this is not easy work. And there is no simple solution, and we do the best we can.

Aric Mackey:

Well, I think I think you're also dealing with the I mean, the perceptions, the, the, the historical perception of OlyCAP, I guess the reputation, you kind of inherit that, and you have to overcome that no weird way and couple that with pessimism. And in general, and, and people's, I'd say varying degrees of understanding of the overall problem and attention span. I think then, yeah, it's a powerful combination of, well, cancerous comments on Facebook. So, you know, I, you know, I get it. And I think, yeah, I think that's part of it. So I think we can wrap it here. Again, I thank you for coming on and being candid, I think because that's the whole I mean, that's kind of what I'm hoping for, like, I just I'm tired of I'm just, I'm just tired. I'm tired of the I'm like, I just want just what Tell me straight. What's the deal? Okay, great. Great. Okay, so we're on level. Yeah. And that's part of the recording. It's like, okay, it's mine. But fine everybody now can hear the same thing from you. Your perspective on the deal and your context and your understanding and everything else? Okay. Now, let's advance the conversation now that we're at this level. And I'm hoping everyone emails, the city of Port Townsend to get fort worden off their ass. Because I think that's the only solution. The buildings are there. They just put a new sewer system. It's a huge facility. And oh, yeah, they desperately need the money as an organization. Anyway, so that's Episode Five. I thank you for coming on.

Cherish Cronmiller:

My pleasure. Thanks for having me. I'm always happy to go and run my mouth. So yeah, anytime you want to follow up, or there's other people or entities out there that are interested in Yeah, let me come talk about something. I'm game. I'll find the time.

Aric Mackey:

I appreciate it. Thank you. Thanks.