Naeem Anis has lived in Auburn for the last 12 years. It has been his only hometown in the country after he emigrated from Afghanistan. He has raised his family in Auburn and has seen it change and grow – and when he saw the opportunity to become the program manager of the new Compass Housing Alliance emergency housing program, Don’s Place, he jumped at the chance.

Naeem (center) poses with his team at Don’s Place

“Auburn is getting bigger, but the people aren’t changing,” he said. “They are good people, caring people and Don’s Place is a great example of what this city is about.”

Don’s Place is the first emergency housing program operated by Compass Housing Alliance. Working with King County’s Health Through Housing initiative, Compass has taken over the former Clarion Inn. The program is named after an Auburn Veteran who experienced homelessness, but always found ways to help others. This new program will focus on the needs of Auburn residents, seniors, and Veterans.

“We are building a culture here,” Naeem said. “The main thing I tell the staff is to always watch our behavior in the building and in the neighborhood and be professional, be kind. This site is for the community members who need it and we are making it a positive place. That is my main focus.”

As of now, there are 11 units occupied with 13 people living at Don’s Place. The participants are a mixture of seniors and Veterans with varying backgrounds, but Don’s Place is welcoming them all to build something new together.

“Even though we are a new program, everything is going well,” Naeem said. “We have had strong communication with leadership and now that we’ve had a few weeks of learning procedures, this program is running smoothly.”

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