After two years, Hanbleceya will be leaving Normandy Park by July 12

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Kerry Paulson of Hanbleceya.

by Jack Mayne

Kerry Paulson, managing partner of adult care home Hanbleceya says July 12 will be the organization’s last day in Normandy Park.

Hanbleceya bills itself as “an organization providing multiple levels of treatment for adult individuals suffering from mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD and dual diagnoses … (an) adult residential facility, semi-independent living program and transitional outpatient program provide the full spectrum of treatment choices.”

From almost the very first – two years ago – it has split the community, some strongly supporting its group home approach and others vociferous against it and the people it drew to the neighborhoods of Normandy Park.

“The firestorm, for lack of a better word, in the community has hurt the clients,” Paulson said in a telephone interview from his office in San Diego. He said he was sorry the entire Normandy Park community could not have embraced what Hanbleceya was trying to do.

Paulson said Hanbleceya decided to leave Normandy Park “because we got tired of fighting the community.”

“There is a small minority of the community who are very, very vocal people who would like to see the demise of Hanbleceya in their area. It is devastating to some of the staff – 22 people lost their jobs and 15 clients had to find other places to go to get treated. But the reality is that all of the strife in the community was hurtful to the clients. Many of them felt invalid because of what was going on – here is the community that doesn’t want them in the community. It just got to the point that staff just didn’t want to do it any longer.

“We are not out of money, we are not doing it for any other reason than it is the best thing for everybody involved.”

In retrospect, Paulson says he regrets coming to the Northwest, “but you don’t know these things until it is hindsight, right? We came up there with good intentions, we helped a lot of people get better even in the short time we were there. We gave it a shot.”

He says Hanbleceya has intentions to expand elsewhere, “just not in the Northwest. I don’t think it makes sense to try that again.”

Caring for mentally ill people, he says, “is really hard work. We are treating people who are really, really sick – families that are really devastated that are dealing with havoc. It would be nice to be accepted into a community, it would be nice for people to want to honor what we are doing and to validate the work we are doing. It is difficult to be spending your time fighting communities, paying attorneys when really the focus should be on the individuals who need our help.”

He noted that Hanbleceya “lost a little bit of money,” but most of the investors in the Normandy Park endeavor would get their money back.

Objected to newspaper stories
Paulson disputes much of the June 27 Seattle Times story by Christine Willmsen but says “it is true” that he did not return the reporter’s phone calls asking for comment. He has been a critic of the three stories published in the Times over the past year, saying much of the newspaper stories were incorrect or misleading.

He referred to a June 27 news story in the Times that said, “A lengthy investigation by DSHS determined in September that Hanbleceya was illegally operating adult family homes.”

“That is totally false,” Paulson said. “A group of people in the community that opposed our existence (made) numerous complaints to regulatory bodies. As a result of those complaints, the regulatory bodies had to start asking questions, they visited our houses and made the determination, via letter in September that they felt like we were not complying with the regulations. “As a result of that, we responded and they started an investigation.”

In March 2013, the state Department of Social and Health Services released a public letter “essentially saying that we are in compliance. All of our homes were in compliance.

“We decided during the investigation that we wanted to pursue getting a licensed adult family home, so we closed one of our five houses and we applied for a license to make that an adult family home,” Paulson said. “That would be a pretty important part of the Hanbleceya process to have that level of care provided. We do it in San Diego and it was always our intention at some point to do it in Seattle.

“We applied and were in the process and fulfilled almost all of the requirements until recently when we decided to close. We contacted DSHS and asked them to void the application. It was at our request that that happened.
The Times story said DSHS cancelled the application because Hanbleceya didn’t meet the requirements, he said.

“That is not true and DSHS would confirm that.”

Closing date
“The last day in operation (in Normandy Park) will be July 12,” Paulson said, despite what was reported in the June 27th Seattle Times. “Whichever clients have not transitioned to other programs or to jobs or housing or back home – whoever is left we are continuing to support up until July 12.

“Actually, today (July 1) there are only two clients that are left in housing and they are going to be moving out together in the next couple of days. We’ve got three fulltime staff at the office available for any of the client’s needs.”

Three of the former Normandy Park clients have transferred to Hanbleceya in San Diego and a couple more are considering that move, he said. Despite the newspaper story that said some clients were abandoned, Hanbleceya is caring all for.

“Every single client was invited to transfer to our San Diego facility and we would pay all of the expenses to get them here and the facility has also agreed to honor all of the commitments that were in place. Anything the Seattle clients were committed to, San Diego would honor.”

He said if people who have moved out need added help, Hanbleceya would provide staff would help, noting that Dr. Jackie Ball is still on the staff if needed.

“Most of them have gone to other programs or they were ready to transition so they transitioned to an apartment, (or) to a job.”

Not illegally run
Paulson was critical of the Seattle Times June 27 article that said the homes were operated illegally. That “is not entirely true but what it did is it prompted an investigation which … conducted and found in March (2013) that, in fact, we were not conducting operations illegally.”

The state sent out a public letter to that effect but he said it was not mention in the June 27 newspaper story, Paulson said.

Paulson says the Times story related that “two (patients) claim they were kicked out of the homes for infractions and forced to live in homeless shelters or on the street until allowed to be readmitted.”

“That would never happen and that has never happened,” Paulson said. “There would be some instances where people were suspended from housing, but when we suspend somebody from housing, they are usually going to an alternative facility, sometimes the parent might decide they want to take them home, sometimes they might get hospitalized. In every instance, the families would be notified what our intentions are and they would have the choice.”

The Seattle Times story said a resident was taken by surprise at the closing.

“The doors were locked and everyone left,” the newspaper story said.

“I didn’t think I would get 10 days’ notice and they would leave without making sure we had medication, without making sure we had doctors set up, without making sure we had a place to live. They literally ran out of town,” the Time’s article said.

Not true, says Paulson. Hanbleceya notified residents of the Normandy Park facilities on June 3 “that is was our intention to close. We didn’t give anybody 10 days notice – we would never do that. In fact, every single client that was in the program at that time” was supported in transitioning out of the facilities.

“A lot of that transition process was terminating our therapists, terminating their peers and then providing for the needed support for them to appropriately take the next step.”

“We have staff there until July 12,” Paulson said.

He noted that the original five-year lease would be terminated as soon as possible but Hanbleceya wanted to be fair to Normandy Park Towne Center owner Tom O’Keefe, “a big supporter of Hanbleceya.”

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28 Responses to “After two years, Hanbleceya will be leaving Normandy Park by July 12”
  1. Allison Stone says:

    Good riddance. I am not one of the “very, very vocal people” who complained about Hanbleceya, but I am very familiar with long term care homes, and this company didn’t make the slightest attempt to follow the laws of the State of Washington. REAL adult family homes are limited to six residents each, and pay hefty annual licensing fees, not to mention a license application fee of over $2000. Adult family homes have hundreds and hundreds of regulations and must follow more than 150 state laws. For some reason, Hanbleceya felt they should be exempt because they allegedly offer something special.

    The reality is that there are dozens of good adult family homes in the Burien/Des Moines/Normandy Park area, along with many fine assisted living communities. Assisted Living communities are, like adult family homes, subject to very high annual licensing fees, more than a thousand regulations and hundreds of state laws.

    These laws and regulations are there for a reason: to protect vulnerable adults. Something that Hanbleceya has failed from the start.

    The ONLY valid point made by Kerry Paulsen is that the community was in opposition. Had this been a “real” adult family home, this opposition would be moot, since real adult family homes are, by law, treated as residences and not businesses for the purpose of zoning. The laws that regulate adult family homes address visual and structural issues so that adult family homes are good neighbors, allowing seniors and disabled adults to live among their neighbors, and not warehoused in institutions.

  2. Mike says:

    This is truly sad and I am embarrassed as a long time resident of this community. I have seen first hand the havoc the lack of mental health resources can have on a community. (4 years in law enforcement). The public’s lack of understanding of the mentally ill is not an issue to to sweep under the rug. The mentally ill should not be outcasts, they should not be put on the street to fend for themselves, and they should be provided with the assistance and care they need. Hell, take the money from the state assistance fund.

    The fear comes from lack of understanding. Educate yourselves people! To the Normandy Park residents opposed to this group, if I were you I would stop worrying about housing a few mentally ill persons within your city limits and start paying attention to the crime proliferating your borders from Burien.

    • Brett J says:

      As another long time resident, I feel the embarrassment as well Mike. I heard the accusations about bigots living in NP and felt sorry that we could be characterized in this fashion but today am not sure if it’s really an inaccurate description. Either way, I’m embarrassed to tell people I’m from this community.

    • Chris says:

      Oh, you actually mean the crime that is a result of the multi-family housing along 1st Ave So, between Normandy Road and Normandy Park Drive? The Normandy Villa, El Toro and other apartments on that stretch are terrible, and any NP police officer will tell you that crime is pretty high there. So before you start making unsubstantiated statements about Burien crime and how it affects Normandy Park, you should first look at the crime in your own area.

  3. Jan T says:

    It’s so sad that a few misguided, ignorant residents who freely discriminate against those with mental illnesses can have this kind of effect on a program such as hanbleceya. We need more assistance for the mentally ill, not less.

    • Tomothy Q says:

      Misguided? Ignorant? How about bigots? How about the bigots that occupy Normandy Park? This is a group of people that should be burned at the cross.

      • Amber says:

        I am utterly flabbergasted that at this point in our human development, someone would actually advocate the burning of someone on a cross. “You don’t like (insert whatever group here) and I am offended so YOU SHOULD BE BURNED ON A CROSS!” Beyond creepy.

    • Bill L says:

      You’re right Jan. Unfortunately the discriminators of Normandy Park can’t tolerate those that have any kind of mental illness. All I can say is Karma.

  4. mike smith says:

    Thanks to all the people who rallied against these greedy Hanbleceya people. I think the State of Washington deserves some credit for doing the right thing. It certainly looks like Tom O’Keefe is greedy too and has not added value to our community.

    • BRad says:

      Keep talking Mike…… This kind of attitude is why many of us in this neighborhood are being called bigots. I support facilities like Hanbleceya and am disgusted that people like you, without the facts, are spewing reckless words in an out of control fashion.

  5. school psychologist says:

    I appreciate having the opportunity to read Kerry Paulson’s perspective. Thank you, Jack Mayne and the B-Town Blog, for helping to shine a fair and informative light on this sad situation.

    Current research shows that supported community housing makes a positive difference in the recovery of persons being treated for mental health issues. It also shows that the NIMBY “syndrome” is a major obstacle to the success of such promising programs and can be fueled, unfortunately, by inaccurate media stories that fan the flames of misinformation and fear.

    I join many others who are deeply saddened by Hanbleceya’s decision to pack up and leave our state. The mental health community has lost an important resource thanks, in part, to Seattle Times reporter Christine Willmsen’s unfair and sensational portrayal of this program and its clients. The public should demand responsible, informed reporting about mental illness because so much harm can come from its absence. The University of Washington offers journalists excellent guidelines that support ethical mental health reporting:

    Our neighbors in recovery from a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse can live independently with great success while receiving treatment, but they need more than a home. They need a safe and welcoming community that fosters hope and resiliency. They need community partners who are not afraid to challenge media myths and stereotypes.

    I wish Hanbleceya well as they continue their good work elsewhere. Washington’s loss is another state’s gain.

    • Sherese W says:

      So true! NIMBYism and stigma are often a mentally ill person’s worst nightmare. The city of Normandy Park has brought back horrifying memories of the 1960’s when I lived as a young black woman in Mississippi. I also had to live with and endure years of severe depression. I’m saddened (no appalled) by this story and angered at the level of discrimination that has been proliferated by the city of Normandy Park and the reporters at the Seattle Times. Shame on all of you!

  6. Carol Vernon says:

    Had Hanbleceya chosen to work within the laws of the state and the community, been open about the program, spoken with neighbors to allay fears, and in general, been a good neithbor, there wouldn’t have been the backlash. I don’t see bigotry in N.P. I do see people concerned about their neighborhood and property values. Hanbleceya came across as arrogant, pushy and demanding. Good riddance.l

    • blake says:

      Boy, there are so many other people in this community who disagree with you. Furthermore, most of us know who is behind NPC. Enough said!

  7. Cassie Southerhorn says:

    You didn’t withdraw your application, for an adult family home Chris Wilson never completed it! I have a copy of the half completed license Application if you would like me to post it for you to jog your memory.

    I also have copies of the Sept letter that states you were in non compliance with state law in the care you were providing in the homes patients.

    I have a folder of photos showing when your staff cars came back to the houses to provide care in the homes after the investigation, which was the behavior that DSHS stated was out of compliance. Sure while the investigation was going on you halted the staff cars at the homes but just during the investigation.

    Ian Wolds the staff member that lied to me, quit Hanbleceya, after he was being investigated.

    Finally the Washington State Agency for Financial Institutions is still “Negotiating with Hanbleceya” over their investigation of Hanbleceya.

    And your “Azander” identity that you posted under on the Times Blog got exposed clear back when you were posting in Lindsey’s and Hanbleceya’s FB pages as both yourself and Azander.

    I’m just happy to see you go, less you’d like to talk about the Bigots page, it’s amazing what staff members who have lost their job will talk to people about in Starbucks. We now have multiple confirmations of the responsible party.

    How about a comment on that topic?

    • Cassie Southerhorn says:

      To the people classifying those that opposed Hanbleceya as Bigots. That was a term coined on two separate Facebook pages, connected to Hanbleceya or supporters of Hanbleceya

      The last Bigots of Normandy Park Page, met all the quantifiers of a hit list. And is currently under investigation by federal authorities.

      NO ONE in opposition to hanbleceya that I am aware of were against the mentally ill. We were working towards regulation under state law. The same regulation that Kerry decided was in his best interest to close down to avoid.

      As to the Bigots pages, I have had confirmations this week of the responsible party, have had the IP addresses since their publishing, and the person’s name that paid for the web domain.

      That page which everyone wants to classify us as bigots before, put seniors into fear for their safety. The top 4 people on that hit list were 2 senior citizens, a city council member, and myself. It sought out pictures, family, work, routines, addresses, and photos of our children, and grandchildren.

      And the person responsible for the page bragged to staff members and others about it.

  8. school psychologist says:

    Our neighbors in treatment and recovery from mental illness and substance abuse are protected by a variety of anti-discrimination (Fair Housing Act; ADA, etc) and health care laws (HIPAA).

    When a treatment provider refuses to disclose the nature of a client’s diagnosis or medical condition in the absence of a signed and informed legal release, that provider is not “lying.” They are following the law and their professional ethical guidelines and protecting their patient/client.

    We all enjoy generous first amendment protections, even for speech and writing that may be offensive and objectionable.

    Ascribing motivation and intent to someone else’s actions is not a scientifically reliable way to truly understand what is in their hearts and minds.

    Making decisions, public statements or performing actions when in a state of heightened fear or anger shuts off our higher-level thinking ability: fight or flight mode kicks in and we often regret what we have said or done once our bodies reach a state of calm and balance.

    Once intemperate statements are made or published, they haunt us and its targets forever because, in the world of internet communication, they rarely die.

    Normandy Park has been fractured and damaged. So has Hanbleceya.

    The persons who understand the concepts behind my statements above have the best chance of learning, healing, and moving on.

    • Gina P says:

      Thanks for those very insightful comments, but here’s a word to the wise when your speaking to many of the NPC’ers in this community: They are bigots and/or mostly very angry women who can’t tolerate mentally ill people ’cause they are different. It makes them uncomfortable. They don’t understand and have no desire to understand or learn or be tolerant. The classic NIMBY people. Disgusting!

      • Normandy Parker says:

        There is only one reason Hanbleceya’s business failed in Normandy Park: Bad product.

        Kerry Paulson can point fingers in all directions but HIS CLIENTS decided his fate when they stopped buying his product.

        Too bad Liz Browning didn’t vet Paulson more thoroughly before she handed over her and her investor-friend’s money to this man. The “concept” of treatment sounds good on paper, and the mental health community needs new treatment options, but the management here killed it.

      • Jill Van Kevo says:

        That’s right Gina. I have never been so embarrassed to be a Normandy Park resident. I support the mentally ill, but it really appears that so many in this community are unable to see the level of bigotry that drives their life. Bigots of Normandy Park does not include me but unfortunately it does properly describe many in our community.

  9. Amber says:

    There are more mentally ill people in Normandy Park than anyone cares to recognize. Mental illness permeates every nook of our society, regardless of income, location, race, gender or whatever you can come up with. Thinking that the residents of Normandy Park are ‘AGAINST THE MENTALLY ILL WARBGL” is ridiculous.

    The illegal operation of a business is so socially acceptable that when someone stands up to be an advocate for the truth, the truth is obfuscated behind the rhetoric of “Normandy Park hates the mentally ill.”

    In our society, a society where truth is so easily discarded and someone would actually advocate burning another human being on a cross, being a champion for the truth seems like a dangerous position to be in. This is incredibly sad.

  10. Adrienne Myers says:

    So the gist of this writing is him doing a CYA on his business practicing without regulatory oversight from the State of Washington, and somehow that makes the people in Normandy Park bigoted? It’s understandable from an emotional perspective to be frustrated that your actions are below the minimum bar for a location, but it’s also very childish.

    Personally I agree that they should have complied with regulatory oversight before opening their facility for services. That they got called on it is completely appropriate, as they weren’t compliant. Though what that has to do with not wanting mental heath treatment I don’t know. Every person who wants positive mental health care should want regulatory oversight for that process, rather than just randomly letting people into private facilities on the off hope it won’t turn into another Starvation Heights.

  11. Cassie says:

    Thank you Adrienne Myers!

    The reason I am so up set was I was never a member of NPC. But I agreed with their goal of gaining regulation because of the lies I personally got from Ian Wolds and Kerry Paulson. That was what brought me into the issue.

    What held me there was being put on a hitlist that asked for everything from my photos, to my family members, my childrens routines, photos and information where I work, where my family members work, where my children attend school. You think that isn’t going to rile a mother up?

    In the end the person that bought the webdomain, and posted the list was a true IDIOT! In this day and age for those that know what they are doing, tracking the owner of a web domain is easier then buying lunch. Throw in the idea the domain provider may get sued and they’ll give up names faster then you can write it down, just to cover their own tails. Along with the unfiltered IP address used to publish the page. An IP Address search from there and you have the street address of the computer used to publish the page. That is what keeps me in this, you don’t go after women and children.

    That was where it crossed into a federal investigation.

    Yes this a complete CYA FLUFF Piece.

    Jack Mayne didn’t write an article here, he let Paulson run the entire interview and further he let Paulson misconstrue, outright lie, and rewrite the ugliest parts in a poor attempt to help his own business. Jack Mayne has access to the documentation that directly contradicts Paulson’s statements. Most of us have seen the letters, those that haven’t can find access to scanned copies, NPC kept a pretty good library of correspondence and documents. Decide for yourself after reading the documentation and published articles.

  12. Stuart Jenner says:

    It is quite odd Mr Paulson chose not to talk to the Times’ reporter before the June 27 story. It is quite odd Hanblecya promised community meetings but never had them. It is quite odd Hanblecya’s independent service providers were “surprised” by information the reporters of the Seattle Times presented to them. It was very frustrating to see the non-responses to questions asked of Hanblecya, for example on the Facebook page. The stories of clients dumped on the streets made it very hard to take Hanblecya seriously when they said they cared about patients.

    The lack of disclosure up front to neighbors raised lots of suspicions and seriously undercut their credibility.

    Hopefully if Hanblecya ever tries to expand they will do so with full disclosure to state agencies up front, full disclosure to neighbors and full explanations to patient families and the community in which they are trying to establish themselves about what happens in an emergency, who is responsible if a tenant breaks a neighbor’s window, where the patient service actually occurs, etc. Hopefully investors won’t wind up filing complaints with the Dept of Financial Institutions. Is this what happened with DFI, or what is the real story? This is a point from the Times story that was ignored in the comments above.

  13. BRad says:

    It would be really nice to have someone tell the REAL story. The anger and vitriol that seems to pervade the people of NPC is no place to find the truth. To the powers that be at this blog: PLEASE TELL US THE COMPLETE STORY!!!

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