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Renton City Council votes to remove homeless people from hotel, restrict shelters

The Red Lion Hotel in Renton has been serving as a homeless shelter since April. (Red Lion Hotel, Facebook)

The Renton City Council took final action Monday on a plan that will lead to the eviction of hundreds of homeless people from a Red Lion Hotel, and puts limits on where and how homeless shelters can serve those in need.

The Seattle Times reports that the council voted to pass the emergency legislation 5-2.

In addition to forcing homeless people staying in the hotel out starting in 2021, KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott reported Monday before the vote that the proposal strictly limits where homeless shelters and services can be and how many people they can serve — capped at 100 people — through a restrictive zoning ordinance.

There had been pushback from Renton for months after King County moved more than 200 homeless people served by Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Service Center to the Renton Red Lion Hotel at the start of the pandemic. The proposal to essentially zone homeless people out of the city has divided locals speaking at previous city council meetings.

“It’s a Seattle-scale problem,” said one resident.

“They have personal space and they begin to thrive,” said another, in an argument to allow people to remain at the hotel.

“It makes any future homeless services in the city virtually impossible,” said a third resident.

“I just want to feel safe in my own home,” added another.

Mark Royal, a man currently being sheltered at the Renton Red Lion, called the hotel a “blessing” in a recent editorial featured by Crosscut.

“I look around and see so many people doing so much better than when they came in, taking up exercise, eating well, feeling safe, having dignity restored and becoming part of the Renton community,” he wrote. “Where will we go if this place is shut down? Where will I go? This hotel has been so important to me and the people I know.”

Opinion: Bid to evict homeless from Renton hotel is laughably cruel

Since the proposal has now passed, half of those at the hotel will get the boot by mid-2021, and the rest by the end of next year. The city also now follows the lead of cities like Bellevue by severely limiting the existence of any shelters within its borders.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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