Plymouth Healing Communities (PHC) was founded in 2000 by a group of Seattle Plymouth Church members who wanted to address the chronic and unsettling problem of people exiting psychiatric hospitalizations into homelessness. Their dream was to create a home where people with mental illness could live alongside community volunteers, called companions, who would share in their journey towards healing, hope and stability. The vision for PHC also included the desire to create community knowledge and compassion for people living with mental illness.
From this vision, Plymouth Healing Communities was created and the House of Healing -- a transitional home where companions live alongside residents who were recently released from Harborview Medical Center after an acute episode of mental illness -- was born. Since its opening in 2001, 165 residents have lived at the house. Additionally, 61 companions have lived at the house, many of whom have become lifelong advocates of people living with mental illness. The model has been powerful in creating a period of respite for people as they reconnect to community resources, develop healthy living patterns, and learn to receive care that is life-affirming and respectful.
As the time spent at the House of Healing is a temporary intervention, PHC wanted to ensure that residents leaving the house would have long-term options for housing and companionship. In May 2003, PHC purchased Agape House and in December 2004, the Hofmann House. The Argonaut Apartments were acquired in 2008, and the Admiral House apartments in 2009. Then in 2014, the Argonaut was expanded to allow for six more units, now called Argonaut House 2. In total, these homes and apartments provide housing and support for 44 residents. The units are subsidized through vouchers or HUD funding to ensure tenants have the option to stay permanently housed. All of the tenants are living with a chronic and disabling mental health condition.
As the growing number of House of Healing alumni moved into our homes and housing in the surrounding Seattle area, we continued our commitment to stay in relationship with them by hiring a community companion who would partner with new and existing residents and help them to reconnect with the wider community. Our first Community Companion was hired in 2007.
As our housing stock grew, so did our need for more intensive care and coordination. In 2011, the position was expanded to Community Companion Coordinator, and a complete Community Companion Volunteer Program was developed. This program was designed to provide companionship support to House of Healing alumni and residents of our other properties, through one-on-one and group experiences. The positive support that this program provides helps to confront the tremendous isolation that many of our residents face and also provides the support needed so that they are more successful in their recovery and remaining in their housing. PHC currently works with 30+ volunteer companions, each of whom has committed to the program for a year or more, which provides stability for the program participants. Companions often become lifelong advocates for mental health awareness and affordable housing.
Most recently, PHC brought three new units of permanent supportive housing into our property management portfolio by partnering with Welcome Table Christian Fellowship. The brand new Grace Apartments is a beautiful addition to their Beacon Hill sanctuary, with residents connected to the PHC Community Companion Program for one-on-one and group companionship, with mental health services provided by Harborview. The new units opened in August 2016.