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Beyond Homeless Housing, Building Supportive Neighborhoods

Pomegranate Center has applied our model to parks, neighborhoods, schools, and other public spaces. Now, we’re applying our model to one of the biggest crises facing our city and our country: homelessness and affordable housing.

We have partnered with Compass Housing Alliance in a mentorship role advising staff leadership and the steering committee through their most ambitious project to date: the Compass Crossing Pilot Project. Compass Crossing is a modular housing solution that will create dignified housing and people-centered services in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood. This project will addresses the three biggest barriers to finding a home: people, pets, and partners. It will also serve as a stepping stone to more permanent housing. (Learn more here).

The project’s ambitions, however, are not just to create a physical housing solution, but to create a supportive community that will provide assistance to the incoming residents. Modeled off of Pomegranate’s convening group approach, the Compass Crossing Neighborhood Council has been working to “welcome home” their newest neighbors through outreach and assembling a local community support network of resources and services.

In a recent article on Compass’s blog, Neighborhood Council member Christopher Ross looks at the multi-layered role of being a welcoming neighbor: “Every time this volunteer team meets, we gain greater understanding of the nuances of being supportive and helpful and how to balance that with the need to be respectful…We are neighbors who are committed to helping our new neighbors find home.”

Pomegranate Center Executive Director places this work in perspective in a recent post, “Investments [such as Compass Housing] are wasted if communities fall into “us and them,” fail to see the greater good, and put up organized resistance. This is where Pomegranate’s 30 years of experience comes into play.”

Our role in this groundbreaking project started when Director of Strategic Initiatives Ryan Mielcarek attended our Pomegranate Method Training last fall. He met with Pomegranate leadership to discuss how we might mentor he and his team in facilitating community and steering group meetings throughout the project.

Ryan Mielcarek says of the partnership, “The Pomegranate approach to community engagement at Compass Crossing has been instrumental in creating a local network of goodwill and compassion between the neighbors of Columbia City and those that will call Compass Crossing home.”

Construction begins this month, with an anticipated move-in date early late this year. As Pomegranate Center’s role in this developing project evolves, we look forward to working with Compass to improve their community engagement skills–a prerequisite for success in their mission to provide housing to those experiencing homelessness.