The City of Bellevue announced yesterday a partnership with King County, Congregations for the Homeless and Imagine Housing to study a location for a men's shelter and permanent supportive housing on county-owned property in Eastgate. A letter of agreement between Bellevue and King County sets out steps to negotiate an agreement for use of the county property for the project. The site, located at 14350 SE Eastgate Way, is immediately north of I-90, adjacent to King County Metro's Eastgate Park and Ride as well as the Eastgate Public Health Center medical clinic. The partnership launches the beginning of a 6-month public outreach and community engagement process.
"Siting a men's shelter for Bellevue is one of our council priorities for 2016-17 and I'm pleased we're making real progress towards this important goal," said Mayor John Stokes. "We have the opportunity here to do something extraordinary about homelessness and supportive housing."
Homelessness has emerged as a major issue facing King County and suburban Eastside communities. The "One Night Count" of homeless individuals in January found 4,505 people in King County living outside without shelter, including 245 people on the Eastside, an 83 percent increase from 2015.
"Homelessness is a regional crisis," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "This proposal will help address the crisis by providing desperately needed shelter space and supportive housing in an area on the Eastside that is well-served by transit."
The proposed building will include a 100-bed men's shelter, a drop-in day center, and space for on-site programs and services designed to assist individuals in transitioning out of homelessness. In addition, permanent supportive housing units will be included to increase the number of affordable housing units available on the Eastside. Congregations for the Homeless will be the primary operator of the shelter; Imagine Housing will develop and operate the permanent housing, which consists of individual, apartment units with connections to services designed to help keep people housed. Both non-profit agencies have local roots and have a long history of community support for their successful service and housing programs.
"The Eastside has no permanent location for a men's shelter, which is a huge challenge for homeless men working to move from living on the street towards permanent housing," said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. "This action ensures progress is made to address our community's need to wrap supportive shelter resources around our residents who are homeless. There's a dramatic shortage of affordable housing in Bellevue and on the Eastside, and the recent rise in home prices and rental rates makes homelessness a real risk for many working people."
Over the next few months, the city and Congregations for the Homeless will meet with surrounding businesses, neighbors, and interested parties to identify concerns and potential solutions. The public outreach findings will guide site design decisions and be presented to the Bellevue City Council, the King County Executive and King County Council by first quarter 2017.
"This is an Eastside solution to an Eastside issue," said Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak. "The advantage of this proposed location, thanks to our strategic partnership, is the ability to offer men a true path out of homelessness rather than just a shelter."
As Bellevue works toward finding a location for a men's shelter, Kirkland is engaged in similar efforts for a women's shelter and Redmond hosts a shelter designed for homeless young adults. On the current timeline, Bellevue hopes to open the men's shelter and supportive housing by winter 2019. For the past three years, the Eastside winter shelter was located in a building owned by Sound Transit. However, that structure is slated for demolition to accommodate East Link light rail operations, and a new shelter is needed.
For more information on the permanent shelter, including updates and background, visit the city's website.