Plymouth Healing Communities (PHC) was founded in 2000 in Seattle by a group of Plymouth Congregational Church members who wanted to address the chronic and devastating problem of people exiting psychiatric hospitalization 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 about and compassion for people living with mental illness.
From this vision, PHC was created and the House of Healing was born. The House of Healing is a transitional home where companions live with residents who were recently released from Harborview Medical Center after an acute episode of mental illness. Since the house opened in 2001, 165+ residents and 61+ companions have lived at the house, building and reforming communities together and enriching each others' lives. This residential model has been very effective in creating a period of respite for vulnerable adults as they reconnect to community resources, develop healthy living patterns, and learn to receive care that is life-affirming and respectful.
The time spent at the House of Healing is a temporary intervention, and PHC wanted to ensure that residents leaving the house would have options for permanent housing and sustained companionship. In May 2003, PHC purchased Agape House and followed that with the acquisition of Hofmann House in December 2004. The Argonaut Apartments joined PHC's community in 2008, followed by Admiral House apartments in 2009. Then in 2014, the Argonaut Apartments were expanded by six units to a total of 14.
In 2016, PHC added three new units of permanent supportive housing through a collaboration with Welcome Table Christian Fellowship. These brand new "Grace Apartments" are beautiful additions to the church's Beacon Hill sanctuary. The three residents there are now connected to the PHC Community Companion Volunteer Program (more on this program below!) for one-on-one and group companionship, with Harborview Mental Health Services providing case management.
In total, these homes and apartments provide housing and support for 47 residents. Because our residents and tenants are all low income and living with a chronic and disabling mental health condition, all the units benefit from rent subsidies through vouchers or HUD funding to ensure that all tenants have the option to stay permanently.
As the number of House of Healing alumni grew and moved into our homes or other housing in Seattle, we stayed connected to them through a new PHC role - Community Companion. This is a person who partners with new and current residents and helps them access the broader support community. Our first Community Companion was hired in 2007. As our housing inventory and resident population grew, so did the need for more intensive care and coordination from PHC. In 2011, the Community Companion position was expanded to Community Companion Coordinator and we developed a Community Companion Volunteer Program (CCVP) to augment paid staff and expand our capacity to meet the needs of tenants.
This CCVP was designed to provide companionship support to House of Healing alumni and residents of our other properties through both one-on-one and group experiences. The program's positive support is an antidote to the pernicious isolation many of our residents face, and this contributes in meaningful ways to keeping tenants in their housing long-term. We currently have 30+ CCVP volunteers connecting regularly with many of our 47 residents. These caring and dedicated individuals commit to volunteer for at least a year, which adds stability to the program and to the connections they forge with residents.