King County and Catholic Community Services representatives took more flak on Tuesday for plans to develop and operate a low-barrier enhanced modular shelter on Elliott Avenue starting this summer.

This will be the first 24/7 modular shelter to be developed under a pilot project announced by King County Executive Dow Constantine last August, and is being constructed over a parking lot the King County Wastewater Division will eventually sell as surplus property.

There will be nine dorm units that will provide shelter for 72 people experiencing homelessness, plus storage, laundry, kitchen, dining and bathroom facilities, and case management offices for connecting clients with services aimed at transitioning them into permanent housing.

Designs for what the shelter will look like when it opens up, possibly as early as June, were shared with Queen Anne residents back in December, and received a fair amount of negative feedback from those in attendance.

Some of those same vocal opponents showed up for a Jan. 8 presentation of the project during a meeting of the Uptown Alliance. Two men were so disruptive that UA president Deborah Frausto threatened to eject them from the meeting if they didn’t act civilly. When they challenged her ability to do so, Frausto said she had no problem calling the police; the men were allowed to stay.

Issues raised during the Uptown Alliance meeting echoed those from the November meeting in Queen Anne, and included concerns about increased drug activity around the shelter at 531 Elliott Ave. W., as well as accusations that drug use will be condoned at the facility. Some also said the project came without warning or vetting by the community.

Fielding questions about the facility on Tuesday night were Mark Ellerbrook, regional housing and community development manager for King County’s Department of Community and Human Services, and Dan Wise and Doug McKeehen with Catholic Community Services.

McKeehen, who will direct the day-to-day operations at the Elliott shelter, said CCS practices harm reduction for those who can’t or won’t stop using drugs. While people served at the shelter will likely use drugs and alcohol at the site, he said, people all already doing this in nearby parks and on the streets near the future facility.

“We live in a world where we’re not just going to throw these people out on the streets and let them die,” McKeehen said.

A doctor in the audience said he has worked with those experiencing homelessness and addiction, and that organizations like CCS have been effective in saving many people during drug overdoses.

Wise, who is director of homeless services at CCS, said it would be worse for residents around the shelter if clients found to be intoxicated were removed and put back in the neighborhood rather than simply provided with  compassionate care.

“We really do foster a concept of redemption,” Wise said.

Ellerbrook said the low-barrier shelter is not an invitation to use drugs and alcohol on the site. If someone becomes violent or disruptive, he said, the police will be called.

Catholic Community Services operates the Aloha Inn transitional housing facility in East Queen Anne, which serves 66 individuals without children and is resident-managed.

“People who couldn’t get into the Aloha Inn are the people that we’re going to be helping here,” McKeehen said.

Ellerbrook said King County works with CCS on a system for entry and access, and provides the organization with shelter referrals based on a needs assessment.

“It’s not a walk-up facility,” Wise said. “You can’t just walk up and check in.”

If people begin camping outside the facility, she said, CCS staff will engage them to determine what services can be provided.

Those who do wish to support the Elliott modular shelter can contact McKeehen at 206-328-5789 or dougmc@ccsww.org. CCS is seeking financial gifts, people and organizations to host supply drives, shelter volunteers, support for pets at the shelter, and in-kind gifts, such as toiletries, backpacks and clothing.