Two community projects in Kent on the application list for federal funding

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Two Kent projects are on a list submitted by Congressman Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, for 2023 congressional funding for community projects.

Sea Mar, a non-profit organization, wants to build a new medical clinic and affordable mixed-use condominium 622 Washington Avenue N According to a May 18 press release from Smith’s office, the $3 million request would support construction of the clinic. Based in Seattle, Sea Mar operates community health centers in 10 counties in Washington.

UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance) Washington, had a $500,000 application submitted by Smith to expand drug use and mental health services at his Mapu Maia clinic. The nonprofit organization is located at 841 Central Ave. N

Smith submitted applications for 15 projects in his 9th district to the House Committee on Appropriations for consideration in the fiscal year 2023 bill. This does not guarantee that the projects will be funded.

Sea Mar’s project would allow the company to provide improved access to healthcare, culturally sensitive care, and affordable and equitable medical and housing services to underserved populations, including those on low-income, uninsured or publicly insured, and disenfranchised minority groups, according to the press release.

The medical clinic and mixed-use facility with affordable housing will also allow Sea Mar to increase the number of patients the organization already serves through its on-site clinics, as well as provide an updated, integrated care system that is unique in the region.

Given its distance from other clinics that provide services to uninsured and Medicaid patients, and its location in a severely deprived area, Sea Mar expects to be able to serve 6,000 medical patients, 3,960 dental patients and 675 behavioral patients per year once it is fully operational.

The project would be built on the southeast corner of West James Street and Washington Avenue North on the site of the former Lucy Lopez Community Center. The center opened in 2006 in a converted apartment building. The center was a nonprofit cultural and educational institution established to serve a growing Hispanic population, as well as others in the city, through English classes, citizenship classes, and other services.

Sea Mar tried to revitalize the Lopez Center in 2008, but the short-term arrangement didn’t work. The directors of the center later closed the facility due to lack of funds.

Sea Mar officials did not respond to inquiries from the Kent Reporter about the proposed project or other details about their plans. Sea Mar has a medical clinic at 233 Second Ave. S. in downtown Kent and an affordable gated community in Des Moines.

“I am committed to fighting for the people of Washington’s 9th District and am pleased to announce today the 15 community project funding requests I have submitted for inclusion in the fiscal year 2023 budget,” Smith said. “These organizations do important work in our community to empower the most vulnerable among us and to make the 9th Ward a better place to live for all residents.

“The funding will help address some of our region’s most pressing challenges, including housing, healthcare, childcare, education and workforce development, small business development and public safety. Importantly, projects focus on investing in underserved communities, including low-income individuals and families, immigrants, refugees, Black, Indigenous and Colored people, women and children, and seniors.”

Funds for UTOPIA

UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance) Washington, had submitted a $500,000 request from Smith. The nonprofit organization is located at 841 Central Ave. N. Kent.

According to the press release, UTOPIA and its Mapu Maia Clinic serve as a trusted, culturally-aligned, free healthcare resource for Pacific Islanders in the LGBTQI community. The Mapu Maia Clinic provides resources for substance use and mental health services, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support services.

Mapu Maia Clinic has been serving the community since the onset of the pandemic, providing healthcare needs and services to community members through trusted partnerships and volunteer efforts of healthcare providers and organizations.

“Today I had the opportunity to see firsthand the extremely important work being done at Mapu Maia Clinic to expand access to healthcare services in Kent, particularly for members of the LBGTQIA+ community,” Smith said of a visit in the clinic on May 25th. “UTOPIA’s culturally relevant prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery support, and transgender and gender-sensitive health services are making a real difference in addressing the lack of health services available to many people in Washington’s Ninth Circuit stands.

“UTOPIA is dedicated to serving members of the Pacific Islander and broader LGBTQIA+ community who face significant health disparities and cultural barriers in accessing quality healthcare. The funding I am requesting will build on this critical work and expand the reach of the clinic’s services.”

According to the press release, the funding would help UTOPIA establish a fully operational one-stop shop, open weekly and after hours, to meet the needs of community members with a range of substance use and mental health-related services.

This will help UTOPIA meet the specific needs of the LGBTQI, immigrant and color communities who face cultural barriers and exacerbated health inequalities. The funding will allow Mapu Maia Clinic to expand the reach of its services to provide the community and culturally informed health services and programs needed.

“We are grateful to Congressman Adam Smith and his hard-working team for recognizing and supporting the work that UTOPIA Washington is doing with our Mapu Maia Clinic,” said Taffy Johnson, executive director of UTOPIA WA, in a Smith press release. “With this support and allies, our clinic can and will help address the lack of awareness and education surrounding transgender and gender-sensitive health needs and provide health resources and services to our broader members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

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