Community House receives $5.3 million state grant for youth homeless shelter in Longview

Community House on Broadway received a $5.3 million state grant to help fund the building purchase and renovation for its planned youth homeless shelter.

The Longview-based nonprofit applied for the state’s Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition grant in January and leaders were “shocked” when told earlier this month they received the full amount they applied for, said Frank Morrison, Community House executive director.

“We were ecstatic,” he said. “It’s a big job, and we don’t have the money.”

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The overnight shelter would initially house 24 youth, half boys and half girls, on the second floor of the building on the corner of Broadway and 12th Avenue.

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Youth 13- to 17-years-old could stay at the shelter and would receive basic needs support, case management, individual and group mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, and support to obtain education and job skills, according to the Community House’s plan.

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The Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition grant provides funding to acquire real property for rapid conversion into emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, permanent housing or youth housing.

Community House was one of 21 applicants statewide requesting a total of $69.5 million, according to the Department of Commerce. The program had $65.3 available in this funding round, including $7.9 million for the Great Rivers region of Cowlitz, Lewis, Wahkiakum, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.

Morrison said it would take about three months to put together the contract with the state and receive the grant funding. After that, the organization will finalize the building purchase, he said.

Community House has a sale and purchase agreement with the building owner and realtor to buy 1330-1346 12th Avenue in Longview, located around the corner from the adult shelter, Morrison said.

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Architectural drawings for the youth shelter are in the works and should be done around June, Morrison said. Renovation will take an estimated eight months to one year, he said. In that time, the organization will work through the state licensing requirements for an overnight youth shelter, Morrison said.

Along with the building purchase of about $1.9 million, renovations will likely bring the total cost to about $6 million, Morrison said. Under program rules, the grant cannot be used for some of the work needed, such as IT equipment installation.

The organization plans to apply for Cowlitz County document recording fees through the currently open request for proposals for homeless and housing projects, Morrison said.

“We really need that to do it right and safe,” he said.

After Community House presented its shelter plan and requested county money in January, the county commissioners decided to put out a broader request for “one-time or start-up costs” for projects focused on housing or homelessness, with an interest in those that address youth.

The commissioners will review proposals after the request closes on April 11. The county has $2.7 million of document recording fee revenue in the bank and brings in about $1 million per year.