A Place to Call Home

By Tom Moore When Justine Gonzalez-Berg resettled in Port Townsend in 2016, returning to her primary childhood home, it was because she, “wanted to be in a place where I could be an engaged citizen in a community I cared about and had a connection to.” If she had arrived just a few years later, her return to Port Townsend very likely would not have followed the same arc - an arc of experimentation, passion and civic engagement the kind of which any thriving community wants and needs. “When I moved back, I think a big reason why I stayed was because I ended up in a really great housing situation. A big Victorian house in Uptown with young folks living together. It was super affordable. Living there allowed me to work different jobs, to volunteer, to start Strait Up magazine … I didn't realize how lucky I was.” In the position of Director of Housing Solutions Network (HSN) since 2019, Justine believes times have changed. Today, stories of young professionals, essential workers, and families who cannot afford to live in Jefferson County are common, and are creating a level of insecurity that forces many to move away from home. More and more, the JCF network of change makers are connected to and impacted by these stories. While difficult to hear, and much, much more difficult to endure, HSN has taken the prevalence and awareness of the lack of affordable housing and turned it on its head…

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Avant Garde Approach to the Housing Crisis

Laura Jean Schneider ljschneider@ptleader.com There’s an avant garde approach to the housing crisis right here in Port Townsend: Applicants will need to make it through several rounds of interviews. They need proof of reliable income, because 20 percent will go toward rent. They must be willing to undergo state and federal background checks and be in good standing in their community. Approved tenants are required to help upkeep their community grounds and attend weekly meetings. Tenants share one meal per day in a communal kitchen. There’s 24-hour security on site, easy access to public transportation, schools, medical care, and a grocery store. It’s a weapon and substance-free community, with enforced quiet hours. Applications can be obtained from Bayside Housing and Services. Address? Well, it could be a modest lot between Ninth and Rosecrans streets, arguably the most contested soil in Jefferson County right now. PREJUDICE, PERHAPS PRIDE“I’m one of those really fortunate people who have lived a really charmed life,” said Debbi Steele. She moved to Port Townsend in 2007, where she started the Jefferson Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls, and founded the Wearable Art Contest to fundraise for it. Recently, she’s become involved with the Community Build Project, a volunteer-run organization that helps craft homes for those in need. After trying her hand at slapping on paint, which she admits she was miserable at, she took over as volunteer coordinator. “We want to build community,” she said, and in this case, that’s literal. She…

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Gary Kennedy (February 26, 1939 – February 5, 2020)

Gary loved people and parties. He loved houses, especially kitchens, and art and music. And boy did he love his dogs. But, most of all he loved Jerry Haynes, his partner, with whom he shared 32 years of his life. These men straddled a time during which they installed two phone lines in their home and never dared answer the other’s line, to a time when there is nearly universal acceptance of gay marriage in many countries. Jerry died very suddenly 17 years ago. Gary never fully recovered from that great loss. Nonetheless, he continued to host parties and to volunteer for many local nonprofits. Gary relished cooking for others. He hosted countless dinner parties, holiday gatherings and fundraisers. He even created his own family cookbook with the help of his niece, Kaye. He was a prodigious fundraiser for Centrum and was chosen as the first ever “Centrum Champion of the Year” in 2015. He served on the boards of the Northwest Maritime Center, the Jefferson County Historical Society, Advisory Board of Centrum, and was a member of City of Port Townsend Historical Preservation Committee. He was an active supporter of Habitat for Humanity, Jefferson County Animal Shelter, Food Bank and other community nonprofits. Gary was born in Missoula, Montana, on February 26, 1939. He graduated with a degree in architecture from Montana State University. Gary died in his beloved home on the bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan De Fuca on February 5, 2020. He worked…

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