King County Human Services head: Housing homeless in hotels is a ‘faster, cheaper’ solution

May 13, 2021, 11:53 AM
Homeless hotels, King County...
A hotel in Queen Anne recently purchased by King County. (Dow Constantine, Twitter)
(Dow Constantine, Twitter)

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced plans this week to have the county buy several hotels to house the region’s homeless population. But what will that look like in practice? King County Human Services Director Leo Flor spoke to KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show to provide some insight.

Seattle’s two new hotel homeless shelters are now officially open

The county plans to house 1,600 people in hotels between now and the end of 2022, having just bought the Inn at Queen Anne with “several more properties” expected to be purchased in the weeks ahead.

Flor notes that this is an approach that’s proven to be both effective in getting people off the streets, and appreciably cheaper than building new shelters from scratch.

“When we build new permanent supportive housing, that unit usually costs about $400,000 when you account for the land and the construction costs and the size of the buildings,” he described. “We have a chance here to cut that purchase price in half.”

“This is both faster and cheaper,” he added.

That’s also helped by the fact that buying a hotel right now is cheaper than it would be at any other time thanks to the pandemic, allowing the county to “create housing faster than we normally could.”

Combined with recent research from the University of Washington that demonstrated the relative success of hotel shelters, Flor sees this as a crucial piece of the region’s fight against homelessness.

“We know that the thing that works for folks who are experiencing chronic homelessness is to get them inside, and we have a moment right now where we have a hotel industry that’s been really affected by the COVID pandemic,” he said.

The hotel shelters the county plans to stand up will largely be reserved for those considered to be “chronically homeless,” including those with disabilities, and who have been living outside for “at least 12 months.”

“Those are the folks that we’re really looking to bring inside, provide the services, and we know that it works because we’ve done it,” Flor said.

King County reducing shelter concentrations, moving people to hotels

That will see the county partnering with groups like the Chief Seattle Club, the Downtown Emergency Services Center, and Catholic Community Services to provide help with Medicaid-funded behavioral health services, job placement, housing assistance, or a substance use disorder.

King County will also be coordinating with cities and local communities, with a focus on “building long term solutions” for residents of neighborhoods where these hotels are located.

“It will only succeed if we work together,” Flor said.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

Sara Nelson...
Gee and Ursula Show

Seattle council candidate Sara Nelson outlines plan for homelessness, policing

Seattle City Council Position 9 candidate Sara Nelson calls for added encampment sweeps and police accountability over defunding.
1 day ago
Gee and Ursula Show

Superintendent: More ‘issues with adults’ over masking rule than students

The state Superintendent says things are going "pretty darn well" as schools reopened. He credits that success to COVID rules, which include masking.
3 days ago
Vaccine mandate...
Gee and Ursula Show

With Washington’s vaccine mandate deadline imminent, a minority chooses resignation

KIRO Radio speaks with the minority coalition which has decided to take a stand against the vaccine mandate and accept termination or resignation.
4 days ago
students, vaccine...
Gee and Ursula Show

State Superintendent says any future vaccine mandate for students will be ‘statewide’

The state Superintendent of Public Instruction says there won't be a vaccine mandate for students until there's full federal approval of a vaccine for kids.
5 days ago
Seattle City Attorney abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, candidate...
Gee and Ursula Show

‘I didn’t think anybody took me that seriously,’ Seattle candidate says about anti-police tweets

Seattle city attorney candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy tells Gee and Ursula how she would run the office and responds to tweets she posted in 2020.
11 days ago
Kenneth Wilson...
Gee and Ursula Show

Seattle Council Position 8 candidate Kenneth Wilson takes aim at incumbent Mosqueda

The challenger for Position 8, Kenneth Wilson, claims his technical expertise as a civil engineer will be crucial for infrastructure development.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
King County Human Services head: Housing homeless in hotels is a ‘faster, cheaper’ solution