(Photos by WSB co-publishers Tracy Record & Patrick Sand)
While a public grand-opening ceremony is planned tomorrow for Cottage Grove Commons, the new DESC-operated building in North Delridge, Wednesday is the really big day. That’s when its 66 formerly homeless start moving in.
Coming from homelessness, they have little to bring along, so on Sunday, the new studio apartments were made ready for them by the efforts of dozens of volunteers, whose work was just beginning when we stopped by.
The volunteers’ work on Sunday was part of “Apartment Adoption Day.” While DESC made sure each unit has basic furniture like a bed, a table, and chairs, the “adopters” brought items such as bedding, dishes, and cleaning supplies:
As noted on the one-sheet provided to volunteers, “The idea is that when the new resident first sees their apartment, that it looks like home.” Two-thirds of the “adoptions,” DESC says, were taken on by two organizations – Starbucks and Burien-based Genesis Global Spiritual Center, and the others were thanks to various individuals and smaller groups.
We found out about “Apartment Adoption Day” when asking DESC about an opportunity to look inside Cottage Grove Commons before tomorrow’s ceremony and open house. So in addition to finding out about the volunteer efforts, that’s what we did, starting with the gathering spaces on the ground floor.
Upstairs, the apartment we were shown was, DESC staffers explained, a little bigger than most, as it’s one of the fully accessible units, with enough room to maneuver a wheelchair.
As with other DESC residential buildings, there are features to maximize safety for people living alone with challenges such as mental illness – drains in bathroom floors in case water is left running, automatic shutoff for stoves in case they are left on too long. Each apartment has a two-way intercom to the front-desk staff downstairs in case the resident needs help or needs to be checked on.
As has been reiterated in many discussions, it’s not a jail – residents are not only allowed outside, they’re encouraged to leave their units. The courtyard on the south side of the building has benches:
There are gathering spaces inside, too. One meal a day will be served; there’s a big commercial-type kitchen on the ground floor:
Other meals are up to residents. When Cottage Grove Commons’ residents are all moved in, DESC tells us, it will be housing 1,000 residents at its properties around the area – “permanent housing,” as a staffer puts it, not shelters. And 66 beds will be opened up at shelters as these permanent residents move in, starting Wednesday.
In the meantime, you are welcome to their open house tomorrow – a two-part event with the grand-opening celebration 2:30-4 pm, and a community open house/touring opportunity 4:30-7 pm, 5444 Delridge Way SW.
Our coverage of the project, dating back to the first community discussions in summer 2011, is archived here.