Congressman Adam Smith, center, tours the Mapu Maia Clinic May 25 in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Adam Smith

Congressman Adam Smith, center, tours the Mapu Maia Clinic May 25 in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Adam Smith

Sea Mar, UTOPIA to receive federal funds for Kent projects

$2 million to Sea Mar for health center, affordable housing; $500,000 to UTOPIA for clinic

Two Kent community projects will receive funds after Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed the $1.7 trillion government funding package.

The package includes $2.2 million for a Sea Mar community health center and affordable housing mixed use facility and $500,000 for the Mapu Maia Clinic operated by United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (UTOPIA) Washington.

“This year’s government funding package not only allows us to make good on our commitments to keep the government open and running smoothly, but also provides additional funding to bolster important social and economic programs that make us stronger as a nation,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, in a Dec. 23 news release.

Smith helped secure $24 million for 15 community projects in the 9th District.

“There are many things to be proud of in this bill, but I am especially excited about the funding that will go directly towards community projects in the 9th District,” Smith said. “These projects will invest in affordable housing and health care, workforce development, public safety, small business, local economy and more and will uplift the most vulnerable and underserved individuals and families in our region.”

Sea Mar, a nonprofit, plans to build a new medical clinic and affordable housing mixed use facility at 622 Washington Ave. N. Seattle-based Sea Mar operates community health centers in 10 Washington counties.

Sea Mar’s project will allow it to provide increased access to health care, culturally sensitive care, as well as affordable and equitable medical and housing services to underserved populations including those of low income, the uninsured or publicly insured and disenfranchised minority groups, according to the news release.

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

Given its distance from other clinics providing services to uninsured and Medicaid patients, and its location in a severely distressed area, Sea Mar anticipates being able to serve 6,000 unduplicated medical patients, 3,960 dental patients and 675 behavioral health patients per year once fully operational.

The project will be built on the southeast corner of West James Street and Washington Avenue North at the site of the former Lucy Lopez Community Center. The center opened in 2006 in a converted home. The center was a nonprofit cultural and education facility set up to serve a growing Hispanic population as well others in the city through English classes, citizenship classes and other services.

Sea Mar attempted to help revive the Lopez Center in 2008, but the short-term agreement didn’t work out. Center leaders later closed the facility because of a lack of funds.

Sea Mar has a medical clinic at 233 Second Ave. S., in downtown Kent and an affordable housing facility in Des Moines.

UTOPIA plans to expand its substance use and mental health services at its Mapu Maia Clinic. The nonprofit is at 841 Central Ave. N.

The clinic serves as a trusted, culturally aligned, free health care 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.

The funding would help enable UTOPIA to establish a fully functional drop-in clinic that operates weekly and after-hours to meet the needs of the community members with a range of substance use and mental health related services.

“We are thankful to Congressman Adam Smith and his hard-working team for recognizing and uplifting the work that UTOPIA Washington is doing with our Mapu Maia Clinic,” said Taffy Johnson, UTOPIA WA executive director, in a Smith press release in May 2022 when the funds were sought. “With this support and allyship, our clinic can and will help to address the lack of awareness and education around transgender and gender-diverse health care needs and provide healthcare resources and services to our broader LGBTQIA+ community members.”

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