Tag Archives: Valor Apartments

Crosscut: Law change, closure of FS39 shelter encourages area churches to take larger role in housing homeless

Online news site Crosscut posted a story on Monday by author Julie Gunter that details efforts by the faith community in northeast Seattle to provide housing and food for homeless people in small scale, church-sponsored shelters.

The article theorizes that the model of small-scale, ecumenical response being done in Lake City could change the way homelessness is addressed in the larger community.

From the report:

Last fall, as homeless community members reluctant to seek shelter downtown faced a cold season on Lake City’s streets, a new coalition stepped up to fill the gap left by the empty fire station. The Lake City Task Force on Homelessness, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and four other local churches— Seattle Mennonite Church, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Our Lady of the Lake Parish and Lake City Baptist Church —came together to offer homeless neighbors a rotating volunteer-run satellite shelter from November through March.

Congregations have been helped in their efforts by revised state law, ESHB 1956, which more clearly defined the authority of religious bodies to house the homeless on congregational property in 2009. More recently, an ordinance unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council in 2011 authorized churches to host encampments for extended periods of time, as long as they meet basic public health and safety standards, promote good neighbor relations, prohibit banned substances and weapons, prohibit sex offenders and enforce rules related to the proximity of children within or near the shelter.

The issue of concentrating homeless people in Lake City, such as with the larger-scale shelter at the public-owned Fire Station 39, had previously caused an uproar. The frustration was increased because homeless people from downtown shelter overflow and emergency room releases were being sent to the Lake City shelter. The influx of homeless from outside the neighborhood even frustrated longtime neighborhood homeless as they had to suddenly negotiate services in the neighborhood along with many others.

But the church-sponsored, smaller scale shelters have not generated any noticeable protest from neighbors. Previous stories about the small-scale church shelters have not sparked online debate among readers like stories about the larger, permanent projects such as Fire Station 39 or the proposed Community Psychiatric Clinic’s Valor Apartments for veterans with a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental illness.

The Crosscut story gives a good look inside efforts by the faith community. Our Lady of the Lake in Wedgewood participated recently in the rotating shelter and the story gives a description of how the church-sponsored shelter operated.

From the story:

Michael Palmer, parish administrator, explains that, without a clear guide to follow, his job began as “a process of weaving my way through the city, the city’s building department, and the permitting process.” Strict archdiocesan policies, insurance requirements and fire code regulations were also closely followed…

For the approximately five to fifteen men and women who arrived at night, chilled and foot-sore, fresh flowers, radiator-warmth and dark, strong coffee provided a semblance of home. Guests congregated around a long table to eat meals, tell stories and watch classic movies before heading at curfew to their camp-style mats and blankets.

You can read the entire story about effort by area churches to house and feed homeless in our area here: http://crosscut.com/2013/03/04/social-services/113254/can-churches-solve-our-homelessness-problem/

Valor Apartments Meeting

Tomorrow ( Wednesday, January 9th ) from 6pm to 9pm at the Lake City Community Center, DPD will be holding an open house meeting  for public comment / review of the Valor Apartments permit application. Below is an open letter that was sent to Council Member Richard Conlin ( the chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. ) The Mayor's office and all Council Members were copied. 

Council Member Conlin-

I apologize for the late notice on this meeting. I also apologize for the length of this email, but there is an important point to be made regarding inaccuracies from the Office of Housing that may affect HUD funding as well as SEPA review. 
( This email will be posted also as an open letter on the DPC website. )

On Wednesday, January 9th at the Lake City Community Center from 6 to 9 pm  DPD will be hosting a meeting to get public input on the Valor Apartment project. The permit has not yet been issued and the meeting was scheduled in response to a petition signed by over 100 residents in Lake City. 

I am attaching a photograph of the notice board that went up last year. Most people took this at face value, only to learn much later in the review process what was really intended. 

The community has very serious concerns about the siting of this project:

1. The language on the Notice board is deceptive.

The Notice board at the site reads “To construct a 4 story residential structure with 21 units above a 1,500 sf community center at ground level. Existing structures to be demolished.”

The 21 “residential” units are intended to house individuals / veterans with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug addiction. They will require staff supervision.

The “community center” on the first floor is intended to be a Psychiatric Clinic for residents and a Homeless Drop In Center - a continuation of the Mennonite's God's lil Acre which appears to be an unregistered non profit operating as a pseudo clinic on a harm reduction model with no governmental oversight. 

2. The proposed project may not comply with City Council’s ELI threshold

The limit for Extremely Low Income housing is 20% of all the housing in the area ( the Census Block Group ).

The adjacent block group  is currently at 30% ELI housing ( per OH data ). 33rd from 125th to 130th is at 43.5% ELI,  and the north half of the HUV is at 21% ELI . ( see maps )

This project continues a trend toward poor siting decisions for ELI housing that is increasing the concentration of poverty in our Hub Urban Village - against the Department of Housing and Urban Development's  guiding principle of reducing poverty by by creating mixed income neighborhoods. 

3. There is a 75 unit building for homeless individuals and veterans on the same block.

Some of the residents at McDermott place have addiction issues. Residency there does not require they be clean and sober. 

4. There is a children’s playground, immigrant family housing,  and a new park space directly across the street.

For your reference, I am also attaching two maps. The first is a map that shows Census Block Group 1.3 in the project area at 30% ELI. This map is from the Office of Housing. This number has been revised increasingly upward since I first started investigating it on June 20th of 2012. It started at 9.9% and I am concerned that land use and HUD funding decisions are being made with incorrect data. I want to make sure that yourself and your fellow council members have the most recently corrected map and data and are aware of these changes in relationship to the HUD funding earmarked for this project. 
The last attachment is a map I composed of the Hub Urban Village. The numbers are from the King County Tax Assessor site as well as data from OH. Please note that if you isolate the north half of the Lake City Hub Urban Village, we are at 21% ELI. Although the consolidated plan's siting policy uses Census Block Groups as the bounds for determining the 20% threshold, we believe that the HUV bounds are more pertinent. Also note that the ELI concentration jumps to 43.5% when looking at just 33rd Ave from 125th to 130th - the street the project is proposed for.   

If you made it this far, then thank you for your time. I appreciate it and hope to see you tomorrow.