By Whitney Friddle
Jumping Mouse Children’s Center
Time and time again, I hear and read that the lack of affordable housing is pushing working people out of Port Townsend. The rise of rental prices and lack of housing options are making it increasingly difficult for community organizations to recruit, hire, and sustain staff. At Jumping Mouse, it feels as though this has become a constant issue as we work to recruit interns/externs, and sustain the staff we have.
Recently I was talking to a friend who works at Dove House about their recruiting. She told me that they had found an excellent candidate for a job opening, who unfortunately couldn’t take the position because she could not find housing. For nonprofits and businesses alike, the lack of housing makes providing services and sustaining staff an ongoing challenge.
I moved to Port Townsend in August 2018. The last question I was asked before I accepted my position at Jumping Mouse was if I already had a place to live, and if I needed help. Initially I was surprised, what an incredibly kind organization to offer that assistance. Little did I know, I would regret not accepting.
In my short time here, my boyfriend and I have already been priced out of our first rental when we were notified that rent – already close to out of our price range – would increase drastically at the end of the lease. It took four months from that notification date to find a new place. We reached out to every listing that came up in the Leader, on Zillow, and through word of mouth. Finally, a fellow co-worker, who has since left Port Townsend, spoke to her landlord about us, and we took over her lease.
Soon after I secured my rental, Jumping Mouse was avidly on the search for employee housing again. Not only were we looking to hire another therapist, we also needed housing for our newest intern. Additionally, one of our longtime therapists wanted to move here and end her Seattle-to-Port Townsend commute. I am happy to say that we successfully found housing for our intern, however, we were unable to find a rental for our therapist before she needed to re-sign her Seattle lease.
I love being a part of this vibrant community. But the question of housing continues to weigh heavily. How can we expect to do the necessary work providing a healing space for children, when our staff and families are struggling to find a place to live?