Courtesy of Weinstein A|U
A rendering of Urness House, Compass Housing Alliance's residential development for formerly homeless individuals, shows how it would fit into the surrounding neighborhood.

Compass releases policies for formerly homeless housing

Compass Housing Alliance, which filed for a Master Use Permit for its Ballard location April 14, has released more information about the operations and screening processes for the 80-unit housing development for formerly homeless men and women at 1753 N.W. 56th St.

Compass' Ballard development, which will now be called Urness House, will provide housing for formerly homeless individuals making less than $8,000 per year and will provide onsite services for them.

Potential residents will be chronically homeless individuals who are identified from shelter and transitional housing programs and referred from the city, county and United Way, according to a Compass Housing Alliance press release.

Applications from potential residents will be denied if that individual has been convicted of arson in the past 10 years or has been required to register as a level-3 sex offender.

Applications will undergo further review if criminal records show the individual has been convicted of a serious crime, showed continued patterns of criminal behavior or been required to register as a sex offender.

As part of their lease agreement with Urness House, residents and their visitors will be expected to respect the neighboring community, according to the press release.

Visiting hours will be between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., and residents will be limited to two visitors at a time.

According to the press release, Urness House will be staffed 24 hours per day and have controlled entry. Urness House staff will be available 24 hours per day to respond to neighborhood concerns regarding noise or behavior.

“Compass has been a consistent good neighbor in part because our residental buildings have onsite staff 24 hours per day every day," the press release states. “The management of Compass and the Urness House staff are committed to being good neighbors in Ballard.”

Compass Housing Alliance is offering to create an Urness House Community Advisory Board to provide neighbors with a forum to voice concerns and make suggestions.

After a Feb. 8 design meeting on Urness House, the owners of nearby residential buildings expressed concerns that the development will be a magnet for homeless people, addicts and sex offenders and hurt neighboring businesses and land values.

Compass acquired the property on Northwest 56th Street in 2008. Plans call for a seven-story, 51,664-square-foot mixed-use development.

The bottom two floors of Urness House will be used by human service providers, including offices for social workers, addiction counselors, mental health professionals and employment specialists.

These services are offered by Urness House to help residents stabilize their lives and will be provided by organizations independent from Compass Housing Alliance, according to the press release.

Designs for Urness House include 11 parking spaces, which will primarily be used by human service providers. Residents are not likely to have vehicles, according to the press release.

Comments on Compass Housing Alliance's application for a Master Use Permit for Urness House may be submitted to the Seattle Department of Planning and Development through May 5.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.


Urness House


~That Compass is building an 80 unit homeless shelter that will house Sex Offenders to Drug Dependent and Alcoholics.
~That Compass will be relocating their Pioneer Square Homeless Shelter and move all of them to Ballard, and will not be used to shelter any of the Ballard homeless.
~That Compass has filed for MUP (Master Use Permit), which showed only 11 Parking stalls for Staff only, however indicated that the Homeless will not need parking since they can not afford vehicles.
~That Compass will have between 35 to 40 office desks, medical treatment area and capacity for 50 dining area.
~That Compass will have a kitchen that will feed the homeless 24/7
~That Compass will follow the guidelines of the Landlord Tenant Act, which can house Sex Offenders.
~That Compass advised they will have a staff on duty 24/7 to monitor the front door.
~That Compass admits that residents can have up to two visitors each and mentioned in a Feb Meeting that they will feed other homeless who are in need.
~That Compass advised they will not be accountable for what happens outside their facility and to call 911 when needed.
~So Do You Think This Is A Magnet For Other Homeless?
Please advise Lisa Rutzick, DPD Planner by May 19. Lisa.Rutzick@Seattle.Gov

Urness House

I can't believe this might be going in. How can this happen without giving us Ballard residents a chance to voice our opinion. This will destroy Ballard and all that we worked so hard for. I will contact Lisa Rutzick and let her know my thoughts. We have enough of our own problems here, without bringing in other homeless from other areas.

Urness House

Compass Housing Alliance provides housing at 22 locations throughout King County without negatively impacting our neighborhoods. Through a combination of outreach and consistent performance we have established and maintain good working relationships with our neighbors and the neighborhoods. If you are interested in touring our properties or visiting with the neighbors of our other buildings we will arrange a tour.

Discussion about the Building will be helpful if it is constructive and based in fact.
• We did not sneak into Ballard without notice. We have been meeting with the Ballard District Council periodically for over two years. Notice of the project was provided to adjoining property owners in early 2008.
• The Nyer Urness House will provide studio apartments to individuals who have been homeless. Housing operates very differently from a shelter. Apartment residents come and go at various times throughout the day, tending to their personal business, shopping for groceries, etc. The tenants of this building will not impact Ballard more than the tenants of any other apartment building.
• People who are homeless in Ballard are welcome and will be encouraged to apply for an apartment; this housing is not a “dumping ground” for homeless people. Compass Housing Alliance is not shutting the Pioneer Square Shelter and moving the shelter residents to Ballard. That statement is a fabrication.
• The 2nd floor dining room will serve residents one meal per day. The homeless 24/7 feeding program statement is another fabrication.
• Visitors and traffic to and from the building will be limited and monitored. Alley security, identified by our neighbors as a current problem, will be improved by the building, the area around the building will be well lit and monitored by camera and Compass staff.

Compass takes seriously its neighborhood responsibility and has offered to provide a forum for ongoing productive conversation. The best way to judge what impact Nyer Urness House will have on your neighborhood is to visit our other properties and to talk with our neighbors.

Compass's policies and the

Compass's policies and the services provided sound quite similar to those of McDermott House in Lake City. There have been no neighborhood problems in Lake City because of McDermott House. It is simply a place for people to live. That's what we all want.

Compass Housing Alliance Will Be An Asset to Our Community

I have been a Ballard resident for over 15 years. I am a homeowner, engaged community member and a person who cares about my neighbors and I support Compass Housing Alliance in their efforts to provide critical housing and services to adults in need.

Urness House will provide a permanent, stable home for people transitioning out of homelessness. It will offer not only shelter but the opportunity for people to transform their lives. Discrimination against people experiencing homelessness is just that - discrimination. Speculation and accusations about the behavior of the future residents of Urness House is not only unfair, it's unjustified.

Compass Housing operates a womens shelter in the Cascade neighborhood. It opened over ten years ago and has been a part of that communities transformation from a desolate, industrial space to thriving and lively home for so many.

Examine any Compass Housing project and you will find a safe, caring environment where clients can heal and rejoin their neighbors in productive community life. The idea that providing housing, counseling and other basic human services to people will create a more dangerous community is simply moronic.

I urge you, my fellow neighbors, to open your hearts and minds and to show compassion to people who have endured homelessness, neglect and abuse. Let's build an inclusive community that offers opportunities for people from all walks of life.

Urness House

The Compass Housing Authority plans on building this homeless shelter at 17th and 56th Streets NW. If Compass Housing Authority is such a compassionate group as they so eloquently state, why don't the governing persons of the Compass Housing Authority build the homeless shelter in one of their own neighborhoods where they have a lot more to offer the homeless:

Jim Borrow -- Magnolia
Thao Tiedt - Mt. Baker
J. Peter Shapiro - Laurelhurst
Ron Lynch --

The pitch from the Compass Housing Authority and Amy falls flat. Amy do you want this homeless shelter next to your house, or your daughter's elementary school? There are hundreds of condos and apartments within a block of 17th and 56th. Will an 80-unit homeless shelter (with the potential for 160 additional persons on a nightly basis) for sex offenders and drug addicts offer Ballard a safer walkable downtown -- I think not!

Just a thought

Rondi asks Amy: "Amy do you want this homeless shelter next to your house, or your daughter's elementary school?" The implication, of course, is that a homeless shelter is full of indigent miscreants who will rape your daughters. The reality, of course, is that people without shelter are wounded, broken people, each with his or her own story of how they ended up without a house. I'm not Amy, but when I think of children in proximity to "danger," it is not homeless people that come to mind as a red flag, but those apparently safe people with suits and ties who successfully exploit and oppress countless numbers of people. In other words, I'm weary of very wealthy people moving into very nice homes in my neighborhood, because although they may keep to themselves in their castles, their way of life does far greater harm on far more people than, say, an addict.

Amy here is a quote from

Amy here is a quote from Compass's web site about this project.

"Many of the residents in this project will have medical, mental health and substance abuse issues."

This is not discrimination or profiling of the homeless. These are facts. These residents will be former drug addicts and it is safe to say that a percentage of them will not successfully reform, and go back to using. Please do not be so ignorant of the lifestyle that these people have chosen.

@Guest: Please don't be so

@Guest: Please don't be so ignorant yourself. What is so bad about a person who uses drugs? It's not as though they intend to go around, stabbing children with HIV-infected needles and get them addicted to heroin. I consistently fail to see why there is such a fear of drug addicts in our culture. These people haven't done anything wrong - it's not as though they have raped or murdered someone. Why should they be denied treatment and help? Alcoholics and cigarette smokers are addicts as surely as someone on illegal drugs - yet no one is making cigarette smokers go to prison. If you have an alcoholic in your family, it's no point of shame, regardless of whether they are trying to stop their habits or not. Yet to have a heroin addict in the family, even one who IS trying to get treatment, is disgraceful.

@star - Drug users

I am not discriminating against drug users either. However, a drug user who has no means to pay for their habit, (e.g, formerly homeless people making less than $8000 a year.) is a very bad combination. In fact they may resort to selling drugs themselves to pay for their the surrounding children perhaps.

If a person is a contributing member to society than by all means self medicate as deemed fit. I will not blink twice.