Fight over homeless hotel shelters arrives in Kirkland

Feb 3, 2022, 8:56 AM | Updated: 10:29 am

homeless Kirkland hotel shelter...

A vacant La Quinta Inn in Kirkland. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

Homeless hotel shelters continue to be difficult sells for those living in cities outside of Seattle, with Kirkland residents now expressing concerns over the potential purchase of a vacant La Quinta Inn.

Snohomish County Councilmember pushes back against hotels for homeless residents

King County is reportedly considering the La Quinta Inn — located near SR 520 on the south edge of Kirkland — as the latest permanent supportive housing site for its Health Through Housing initiative. As part of that initiative, the county already has purchased at least eight former hotel facilities, spanning Auburn, Federal Way, North Seattle, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne, Redmond, and Renton.

But residents of cities where hotel shelter spaces have either been planned or considered have frequently raised objections.

In 2020, outrage from residents led to Renton City Council passing legislation that forced out over 200 homeless residents living in a former Red Lion Hotel. Redmond residents echoed those complaints the following year after King County purchased a former Silver Cloud Hotel in the city, claiming that the planned shelter would make the surrounding neighborhood unsafe.

Now, that debate has moved to Kirkland, where those same concerns are once again being raised.

“Most concerning for me is the safety of children and the La Quinta Inn site is located immediately adjacent to several schools and daycares with young children within a short walking distance,” a Kirkland parent said in a letter addressed to Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet and city councilmembers, noting the La Quinta Inn’s close proximity to Eastside Preparatory, Chestnut Montessori School, Yarrow Bay KinderCare, and Cedar Crest Academy.

“Another concern is that the property lies on the Bellevue/Kirkland border and is viewed as the ‘Gateway’ to Kirkland,” the letter continues. “As a result, this is major hub for several businesses in the area. My intent is not to argue the merits of this program but one of the concerns has been that the County believes that ‘supportive housing is non-contingent on behavior changes’ such as quitting drug use. This can result in increased crime in the area, and a drop in property values for neighboring properties.”

City officials have spoken to many of those concerns, detailing how there would be a screening and referral process for any residents that would live in the shelter, that unlawful activities would not be permitted, and that those who repeatedly break the rules would be at risk of expulsion.

“The City’s highest priority is the health and safety of our community,” Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett said in a written statement. “The City will ensure this location, if secured, is an outstanding neighbor to the surrounding businesses and residents. The City will require a robust community engagement process to ensure our community has a voice in issues related to the ongoing operations of the site.”

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

Triplett went on to detail how the shelter would be crucial in providing a permanent home for its residents, “including the stability of privacy, the same bed to sleep in every night, and one’s own bathroom.” That would also include 24/7 on-site staffing, case managers, and access to health and behavioral health treatment.

In Seattle, early data from University of Washington researchers indicated that homeless individuals living in hotels over a 12-month period saw across-the-board improvements to their lives. Participants in the UW’s study were shaving and showering regularly, getting three meals a day, and were more frequently attending medical appointments. Other data from the city’s homelessness outreach team indicated that newly-opened hotel spaces helped fuel a 132% increase in shelter referrals.

That all being so, the sale of the La Quinta Inn in Kirkland is “not final,” according to King County Executive Dow Constantine, as work continues to “complete the necessary assessments for suitability.”

Local News

FILE - The Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. returns on C...

Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, an advocate for liberal priorities, dies at age 90

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a centrist Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1992 in the “Year of the Woman” and broke gender barriers throughout her long career in local and national politics, has died. She was 90.

3 hours ago

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

Colleen West, KIRO 7 News

Bellevue Police warn of jewelry-for-cash scam targeting good Samaritans

Police are seeing a retuning scam in Bellevue that preys on good Samaritans, and it’s similar to one that’s been happening for years.

4 hours ago

BRAZIL - 2023/09/26: In this photo illustration, the Microsoft Bing logo is displayed on a laptop s...

Associated Press

Apple leverages idea of switching to Bing to pry more money out of Google, Microsoft exec says

Apple was never serious about replacing Google with Microsoft’s Bing as the default search engine in Macs and iPhones, but kept the possibility open as a "bargaining chip'' to extract bigger payments from Google

5 hours ago

Image: A Seattle Police vehicle...

Frank Sumrall

Report: Seattle Police ended contract with AI service after Auderer’s comments

SPD canceled its contract with Truleo less than a month after Officer Daniel Auderer's comments about Jaahnavi Kandula's death were captured, a report says.

15 hours ago

Washington wildfires...

Ted Buehner

Maui and Spokane: 2 public warning systems and the need for preparedness

The tragic wind-whipped Maui wildfire last month took many lives. How does the public warning system here shape up in comparison?

16 hours ago

spd auderer...

Frank Sumrall

Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer reassigned

Daniel Auderer, the officer who made inappropriate comments over the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, has been reassigned to a non-operational position.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Fight over homeless hotel shelters arrives in Kirkland