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Snohomish County Councilmember pushes back against hotels for homeless residents

Nov 15, 2021, 8:25 AM
homeless hotels...
A hotel room at the former Clarion Inn in Auburn, Washington, which has purchased by King County to serve as a homeless shelter. (Photo courtesy of KC Executive Dow Constantine/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of KC Executive Dow Constantine/Twitter)

If you live in Snohomish County, it’s certainly possible that you’re going to have hotels open up as homeless shelters in your neighborhood. It looks especially likely for the city of Everett.

Snohomish County Councilmember Sam Low voted against the move to basically approve a real estate firm to look for potential hotels that meet certain standards so they could be turned into a shelter. Along with fellow councilmember Nate Nehring, Low offered an amendment so that if the county decides to purchase a hotel for the use of a homeless shelter, there needs to be outreach and transparency.

Redmond neighbors demand transparency in homeless hotel purchase

“To me, this is 100% about transparency and accountability to the public,” Low told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I put forward an amendment to say, hey, before the county buys a hotel in any city, including Everett — and Everett’s the city I grew up in so I know it really, really well — let the elected officials know, let the public know. That amendment failed 3 to 2.”

Everett City Council members, Low says, saw an article in the Everett Herald about the county’s plan and reached out to Low, noting that they weren’t aware the county was looking to buy a hotel in their city.

“And they’re the elected officials, which is exactly why I wanted my amendment to go forward,” Low said.

“I know they talked about a letter Wednesday night at their city council meeting,” Low added about the Everett City Council. “I know that it’s going to come up next Wednesday as that letter is formalized, and I understand the letter that they’re going to send to the county is saying, hey, where’s our voice in this? Because they are the voice for their constituents. And I think cities should have a voice in this process.”

The county’s bigger plan, Low says, is to buy hotels in every county council district.

“This is just the first step, and if they can sneak this one through then they can just do dominoes with the rest,” he said. “I think it’s important that a light is shown on this.”

Low says he doesn’t support county government purchasing hotels.

“To me, it comes down to the core of county government, which to me is public safety, elections, courts,” he said. “And now it looks like a new core of county government is going to be the hotel business, and the hotel business with zero public input. So I don’t think the county should be in the hotel business.”

Snohomish County has already partnered with local housing groups and a number of religious organizations to provide housing opportunities and options for homeless individuals, Low noted.

First Seattle homeless residents moving in to King County’s hotel

“Now we’re just throwing — seems like we’re throwing that model out the door and going to the King County, Seattle model of buying hotels,” he said. “And I do have a problem with that.”

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Snohomish County Councilmember pushes back against hotels for homeless residents