Hanbleceya Defends Normandy Park Group Homes; Residents Seek Regulation

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A Hanbleceya home in Normandy Park as seen in a car’s side rear-view mirror on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

by Jack Mayne

An organization that treats people suffering from chronic mental illnesses moving into Normandy Park has sparked a community furor that the managing partner of the company says is based on a “fear of the unknown” and a lack of understanding about people with mental problems.

The local battle in the community was made widely public last Sunday when Seattle Times investigative reporter Christine Willmsen published a long and detailed story on the controversy (see the full story here).

On Tuesday, a Facebook Page created by Normandy Park opponents of Hanbleceya company plans, said someone used “chalk to mark where the houses were that are to house patients of the Hanbleceya clinic.” A company executive decried pointing out the actual homes and said it would cause fear amongst its patients.

The Facebook page said that “it is not our interest to harm in any way the patients that live in the homes, but instead to let residents know that unregulated Hanbleceya homes are close to Marvista Park and Elementary (school) while being intentionally unspecific. We are passionate about public safety and concern for the well being of both patients and residents.

“Unfortunately some were turned off by the message and NPC (Normandy Park Cares) will not be using that method again. NPC is passionate about the safety and well being of everyone in the community and we will strive to be an important voice for all concerned. Your continued support has been overwhelming and greatly appreciated.”

Kerry Paulson

Hanbleceya is staying
Kerry Paulson, managing partner of Hanbleceya Treatment Center, founded in 1979 and based in San Diego, said “we do plan to continue operations in Normandy Park,” and to potentially expand to Burien and Des Moines.

Charges his company is not regulated by the Washington State Department of Health are not true, Paulson said in e-mail responses to our questions. Read the full text of our questions and Paulson’s responses here.

Paulson said Hanbleceya is “really hoping to get the opposition groups within the city involved in mutually building a community agreement.”

“The objections from the community are understandable given the lack of information about mental illness and consequently, the perceived threat that arises from that misinformation. There is a fear of the unknown about how the community members’ lives might be affected living amongst mentally ill people.

“For our clients, this means that their recovery is greatly contingent upon both the structure and health of the therapeutic community within Hanbleceya (consisting of staff and clients), but also the opportunity to integrate into the community at large. For that reason, we are thankful and very much looking forward to working together with the Normandy Park community in the future.”

Mike Bishoff

Disagree with ruling
Normandy Park resident Mike Bishoff agrees with Paulson that the clinical activities of the company are regulated by the state, but said the problem is the non-regulation of five neighborhood homes for Hanbleceya patients the company has bought or rented. That, he says, is the nub of local resident’s concern, causing him and others to form an organization, Normandy Park Cares, to fight Hanbleceya.

“Our direction at this point is all about regulation,” Bishoff said. “We think that is the key to success for the city of Normandy Park and the residents – and the patients. Our concern is not with Hanbleceya itself, it is how do we manage a reasonable expectation for residents and patients living in very close proximity to each other.

“We believe that the Department of Social and Health Services regulation on these homes as residential treatment facilities is the right thing to do. That will give oversight regulation from the state to make sure that the patients are properly taken care of and we think it will give assurance to the residents that all of the concerns they might have are being addressed.”

The state health agency has said it has conducted an investigation and determined it did not have jurisdiction.

“We think that they are just wrong,” said Bishoff. “We believe that according to the existing WAC (Washington Administrative Code) these homes are residential treatment facilities and that they need to be regulated by the Department of Health. It is already there, it is already written down.”

Bishoff said Hanbleceya is “skirting that fact, and this is intentional.”

“They are saying that all their treatment is happening up at the clinic and the homes are just rentals that are offered to their patients,” Bishoff said. “We believe, and rightly so, that the homes are actually part of the program – that the living arrangements are part of the way they try to make improvements in the way these people lived day in and day out. It is not just group talk up at the clinic but it is actually living in proximity with other people in a neighborhood.

“One person, on their own, kind of manages themselves,” Bishoff said. “But then you throw three or four or five struggling people all in a room together without being routinely or aggressively supervised,” there can be problems.

Bishoff said one local resident tried to get to know the occupants of one of the homes but finally moved out of her house she had lived in for nine years in frustration.

Bishoff said it could be hard to know who the people are that are living in a treatment home because when Hanbleceya people have problems, “they move them.”

“When they keep moving people around, the neighbors can’t really get to know anybody,” he said. “You see this traffic coming in and out. You don’t know who really is supposed to be there. You don’t know who is staff and . . . who the patients are.

“It puts everybody in a very defensive position. How do you assimilate into a neighborhood if there is nothing to assimilate?”

“That is a big problem for the neighborhood.”

Could have done better
Paulson said Hanbleceya could have better communicated with the Normandy Park residents when they purchased three houses and rented two more.

“On advice of counsel we do not disclose the location of client housing which puts us in a precarious position,” he said. “Initially, we bought the houses and put staff from San Diego who were moving into the Seattle area into those houses. Once we started getting clients, the clients moved in and the staff procured their own housing in other areas of the city then moved out.

“It’s also important to understand that federal privacy laws protect our clients and we have to be constantly aware of their right to confidentiality.”

Paulson said that is why clients were not specifically identified to the community’s residents. “It would be against the law.”

He said the Normandy Park Cares Facebook page is “a very sad reality.”

“Some of our clients will read those pages and no doubt feel scared about the amount of attention and focus being placed on a part of their medical reality. Many of these clients have delusions and paranoia about being followed, monitored, and intruded upon in some way.

Traces of sidewalk chalk were still visible on Tuesday, July 31. Photo by Scott Schaefer (click image to see larger version).

“Creating Facebook pages and writing messages on sidewalks with arrows pointing to their house saying, ‘mentally ill people live there is essentially providing proof that their delusions about persecution are real,” he said.

“Writing endless blogs online and scribing messages in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the houses of these clients is essentially the same thing as acting like the parent jumping out from under the bed,” Paulson said. “No-matter the motivation behind the action, the result is that of terror and confusion for the person that struggles with keeping clear in their mind the difference between reality and fantasy.”

Paulson said freedom of speech is sacred, but “with every word said, printed or immortalized online, there is a person that is affected. It is easy to get into a ‘mob’ mentality with online posts (when) there is no face-to-face interaction.”

“Who is monitoring these sites to verify that what is said is even accurate? Fear breeds more fear rather than less. Rather than be scared of these people, there is something inspiring about that fact that most people would likely benefit from being around them a bit more often.”

A message, written in sidewalk chalk (and no longer very readable), warned passersby of a Hanbleceya home one block away from Mar Vista Park in Normandy Park. Photo by Scott Schaefer (click image to see larger version).

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24 Responses to “Hanbleceya Defends Normandy Park Group Homes; Residents Seek Regulation”
  1. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    While I understand the NP residents concerns I was extremely shocked and saddened on Sunday while attending the Gothard Sisters concert in the park. The chalk messages were uncalled for, and appeared to be threatening. I for one will not be attending any further concerts in this neighborhood . There are civil ways to address the situation BUT this is not one of them. Very poor form NP.

    • Amber says:

      I’m sorry that you had to have such a negative experience. As a co-ordinator of the Music in the Park, I was dissapointed that such measures were tied to our event. 🙁

  2. Cassie Southerhorn says:

    I’d like to point out a couple of problems with Paulson’s statement. The chalked writings that he is speaking of WERE NEVER INFRONT OF THE HOMES THEMSELVES. They were in a public park a block away. Hence the 1 block away on the messages. The arrows pointed in a southerly direction not at the actual homes which you can’t even see from where the messages were.

    Sorry Kerry, although they might not have been in good taste, you insisting they were on the sidewalks infront of the homes is just one more mis-truth from you.

    • Cassie Southerhorn says:

      The other statement Paulson Made is that about who is monitoring what NPC posts is accurate?

      NPC has a website http://www.normandyparkcares.com On the site is a plethora of information about what has been discovered, and the issues raised around Kerry Paulson many statements that now are beginning to contradict themselves.

      Supporting documentation is available right off the website and off the seattle times article also.

      There is certainly enough to cause concern about the kind of care that is being provided to the patients and who is providing that care.

      Again living right by one of the homes I can say for certain that care is being provided at the homes themselves i myself have watched staffers delivering medications and attending group counseling sessions inside the homes. There are photos from neighbors showing these treatment activities.
      In fact in a letter the Kerry Paulson posted on Facebook he states that they make sure the patients are medicated all the time.
      Paulson’s own description of the program promotes that there is treatment in the homes to help patients adjust to living independently.

      BUT if he comes out now and admits that then they admit that they fall under regulation by the state. And that eats into the profit margin to be supervised the overseen.

      Kerry Paulson has danced around the issues with grace.

      Paulson has stated on the record that he would NOT be participating any longer in the neighbor hood agreement. That is in written records to the mediator.

      The lies need to stop.
      Patients need care and are welcome but the business is NOT being the good neighbor that they are claiming to be.
      Read the entire Seattle Times article, see how Paulson speaks about the patients, in a manner that shows resentment towards them and are quite demeaning. “Wiping their butts”

      The lies need to stop

  3. Dan Johnson says:

    With all due respect, I suggest that if you are interested in this matter that you look at the Seattle Times article. The award winning investigative reporter researched and interviewed individuals from the Dept. of Health, the City of NP, Hanbleceya and several residents for more than a month.

  4. Hmmmm... says:

    Does anybody else find it strange that the NP City Manager’s son works for this company? Just wondering about whether the chicken or the egg came first.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I wouldn’t consider the site NPCares as having any ‘real’ facts. It’s a lot of assumptions. And when their assumptions, lies and fear tactics are pointed out – they name call, divert the questions, delete comments, posts and refuse to acknowledge any real truth. They keep telling me I haven’t done any research, but when I point out facts – they delete it. Then they outright banned me and lie about it!! I posted the video proving they blocked me, If they’re so willing to outright lie about something as trivial as blocking someone on FB, ask yourself who is really being deceitful in this? They only want to hear what supports their agenda. Same with other News Agencies, I’ve done 2 interviews stating that I support Hanbleceya and not one has mentioned it. So far Scott has portrayed the most balanced article instead of a sensationalized tabloid fodder.

    OH – and I live right by one of the houses and guess what? They are fantastic neighbors.

    • Cassie Southerhorn says:

      I think the Seattle – Times and the reporter, Christine Willmsen who is part of a Pullitzer Prize winning team would be very amused to find you label their article on Hanbleceya, “tabloid fodder”.

    • JE says:

      I live 4 houses down from own of the treatment homes. My first introduction to the group home was in late April with a police officer running through my yard with an assault rifle responding to a “call”. It ended up being a suicide attempt. Wouldn’t exactly describe this introduction as being “fantastic neighbors”.

      The only way to eliminate fear is through transparency. Hanbleceya has been anything but transparent. You don’t have to violate patient confidentiality by talking about your business practices and policies.

    • neighbor says:

      Hey Lindsey, while you are pointing out your “real facts” you may want to note that this was written by Jack Mayne, not Scott Schaefer. I find it hard to believe that you have actually read the NP Cares site if you have the nerve to say they don’t have “real facts”. From your following comments I would swear you are talking about Hanbleceya… “they name call, divert the questions, delete comments, posts and refuse to acknowledge any real truth. They keep telling me I haven’t done any research, but when I point out facts – they delete it”

      • neighbor says:

        Are the police reports on the NP Cares page “assumptions”? Is the assessment from the doctor that says these patients are unable to care from themselves an “assumption”? What about the lying to the neighbors….an “assumption” too? Sure, there are plenty of opinions on the NP Cares page, but there are also REAL FACTS. And your comment about “tabloid fodder” made me laugh!

      • Lindsey says:

        My apologies to Jack. You must feel so vindicated now in pointing that my mistake. In all fairness, Scott also writes very balanced articles and he is the publisher of the blog and the one that posted it on the NPCAH page. But it was my mistake.

        I’m at the Normandy Park Starbucks until 2pm. Come on down and I’ll show you – or anyone else – all my research and have a conversation with you.

        • neighbor says:

          Vindicated…..hardly. Your words are are insulting to the many educated, caring and compassionate people who are taking the time and money to try to improve this mess that Hanbleceya has gotten our community into. If you want people to listen to you, stop making blanket statements about our so called “assumptions”. There are intelligent people on both sides of this argument. Saying NP Cares has no real facts is irresponsible and with you spouting off comments like that I would want to ban you from their facebook page too. You are aware that the Hanbleceya page deletes and bans anyone who posts something they don’t like, correct? They deleted the study showing property values can decrease as much as 40% when in sight of a group home. The people of NP are not monsters for having concerns for their property and safety just the same as the people living in the Hanbleceya group homes have the right to be safe and cared for properly. We deserve to have our questions answered and concerns addressed. I hope you would agree that we all just want what is best for the entire community.

  6. Loren says:

    I think if they got rid of Kerry Paulson and started over with an information campaign they would be alot better off.
    That guy has no clue on how to manage public relations.
    He made a difficult situation nearly impossible.

    • John Poitras says:

      This is all about Profit for Kerry Paulson! His greed and lack of empathy for Normandy Park residents and their concerns has caused the uproar that we have now.

      From what I can gather, all the vast majority of NP residents want is transparency and regulation.

      I don’t think that’s too much to ask when you live near bi polar and schizophrenic patients in an unregulated home.

      These mental afflictions can result in very deviant and destructive behavior and I think all Normandy Park residents want is to know what controls are in place to prevent such occurrences from happening in their neighborhood.

  7. Btowner says:

    Do they have homes on the East side? Still using sw Seattle as a dumping ground? Any homes in Issaquah, Bellevue, Medina?

    • Cassie Southerhorn says:

      Well, the question about any of these homes being located on the eastside raIses a really good point. The office for Hanbleceya is in the Normandy Park Towne Center. Its owned by a guy named Tom O’Keefe. If you don’t know him he’s the one who sold Tully’s coffee to Starbucks. His relative, Lyn Tully was the realtor who found the first homes purchased by Hanbleceya in NP. Does all this sound kind of connected? Well, he’s the one who got in touch with Doug Schulze and Liz Browning and the other muckety mucks who made sure Hanbleceya got settled into Normandy Park’s residentially zoned areas before any ou us knew about it. Here’s the answer to the eastside question. Guess where O’Keefe lives. you got it – Mercer island.

      • Frances says:

        I think Normandy Park is perfect for these homes. I am tired of everyone with a problem being put into unsafe porr neighborhoods

        • Gail says:

          How about Mercer Island then Frances?

        • Ashley says:

          I agree that Normandy Park is a good neighborhood for these homes, its a quiet place with what what I thought were nice people. Just because you have a mental illness dose not mean that you are dangerous to others. They need places to live to and a quiet calming community is the best place.

  8. stuart jenner says:

    I read the interview with Mr Paulson as well as this article. They provide an interesting perspective, but definitely there are a lot of contradictions of what Mr Paulson states, what they and people they hire stated in the Seattle Times article, what they state on their web site and what people have observed.

    As far as Hanblecya’s track record goes, do a search in Google and you’ll find sites like this that talk about people being turned out on the street and the police reports.


    Supposedly Hanblecya had community meetings when they opened here, and supposedly according to their facebook page they were going to have more. Well, that promise remains unfulfilled. As for the police costs, I think it is fair to assume Hanblecya is not requesting the opportunity to help the city each time their patients (or tenants) call the police, perhaps because they can’t reach anyone from Hanblecya?

    • Cassie Southerhorn says:

      Actually of the “Community meetings” were what were referred to as “Open Houses” Kerry Paulson stated to NP City manager that only 7 people were invited. The city got their invitation hand delievered. I live across the street from one of the homes and I didn’t know about these “Community Meetings” until NPC posted the documents online.

      Paulson is constantly contradicting himself. He has already told the mediator that Hanbleceya and their people WILL NOT attend anymore task force meetings, effectively cutting off all negotiations of a good neighbor agreement. Now all of a sudden he wants to pretend they never walked away from the table. A lie that will be proven solid soon in documentation.

      Normandy Park is not against the mentally ill. I have yet to meet 1 One ONE person who is against the patients. What we want is transparency and what we are NOT getting is transparency, from Kerry Paulson, Hanbleceya, and the city of Normandy Park.

  9. stuart jenner says:

    My suggestion for Mr Paulson would be to demonstrate good faith by posting the contracts they refused to provide to the Seattle Times, posting a full explanation of why Mr Wold said he was moving into a house in Normandy Park but then it turns out the house was for patients, and a full timeline of what happened when the two suicide attempts occurred locally, detailing what happened, when Hanblecya found out, what they are doing differently, whether the patients called Hanblecya and what Hanblecya’s response was if they were called, or why they were not called if that was the case. This would be a start. I’m sure a lot of other people can come up with additional suggestions, there was no lack of things to work on based on what was in the Times story, and based on what’s in the comments from Mr Paulson and in the story here.

  10. Vic says:

    This is great! I have lived on the east side of 1st Ave (Burien) for over 50 years. I love to see NP have something to be up in arms about, if it had been two blocks east of NP, you would have cared less — which is where I live. To you “compassionate people”, it is all about property values. Where do you want then to live? Hospitals can’t keep them and there are very few housing spaces for them so I guess the street is okay. Also, you talk about oversite, let me understand, if there was DSHS or DOH involved you would not mind having them in the city?? It is fun to watch — we don’t have to turn on our TV to watch a Soap Opera!

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