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Photo by Meegan Reid of The Kitsap Sun

PORT GAMBLE, WASHINGTON - Start to finish it took two years for the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe to complete Teekalet, a new, affordable public housing complex for Tribal members of 15 single-family homes, two apartments and a community center on the 1,340 acre Port Gamble S'Klallam reservation on the shores of Port Gamble Bay in Washington state.

Actual construction took only about eight months. The rest of the time, Tribal housing authority chairwoman Lenore Edwards explained to Maks Goldenshteyn of The Kitsap Sun, "was spent on planning." And, she was quick to add, that focused as much on the lives of the animals - bear, deer and salmon who share the Reservation as on the S'Klallam members who would call Teekalet home.

The three-acre site sits next to Little Boston Creek which feeds into the Tribal salmon hatchery in Port Gamble Bay, "one of the last in Puget Sound," the Tribe said, "still open for commercial and domestic shellfish harvesting" To protect the Creek - and beyond -Teekalet's design included "a series of rain gardens and infiltration systems significantly limiting the amount of storm water" runoff that would reach the Creek. "Protecting the environment is of critical concern to our Tribe," said Tribal chairman Jeromy Sullivan, adding that the "huge success" of the development's "minimal impact" on the environment could serve as a "model for other developments in the future."

Just as much focus was paid to the environment in which residents would live. Built with funds from the Washington state Housing Trust Fund and Indian Housing Block Grant funds from, HUD and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it's no surprise that the housing is "greener than green," meeting the state's strict Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards. South-fitting windows, reports The Sun, are "outfitted with solar shades to heat the homes in the winter and keep them cool in the summer" and "every unit has energy efficient lighting and appliances."

In a place like the Pacific Northwest where it rains so much and so often, it may seem odd that the Port Gamble S'Klallam picked a name for the complex that translates as "brightness of the noonday sun." But located in the rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains to the west, Teekalet's takes full advantage of the sunnier days its residents enjoy. Porch covers over entryways include transparent panels to let the sunshine in, said architect Roy Hellwig and "rooms were designed to let in light from at least two walls" and reduce shadows and silhouettes.

"A lot of times people go into a space and don't know why it feels good," he told The Sun. "But little elements like that - the proportion of the room to the height of the ceiling, natural light, colors, they all come together to make a home feel comfortable."

A bit more than a month after moving in, residents seem to agree. "They're cute and comfortable," DeCoteau said of the apartments."I'm still trying to unpack." "I can stand in the kitchen and peek into the living room to see what my son's doing," added JoAnn DeCoteau, "That's a big thing for me." The Tribe is "always looking for ways to make the lives of our residents better," said Chairman Sullivan. On the sunny shores of Port Gamble Bay, it's pretty clear it has.


Content Archived: December 13, 2013

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