King County moving forward with plan to convert Kirkland hotel into homeless shelter

Mar 3, 2022, 1:34 PM | Updated: Mar 4, 2022, 7:32 am

homeless Kirkland hotel shelter...

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

(KIRO 7)

King County has announced its intention to move forward with the purchase of a vacant La Quinta Inn in Kirkland, with plans to eventually convert it into a homeless shelter.

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The former hotel is located near State Route 520 on the south edge of Kirkland, marking the latest site added to the county’s Health Through Housing initiative. As part of that effort, the county has already purchased nine other former hotel properties, spanning Auburn, Federal Way, North Seattle, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne, Redmond, and Renton.

When it first became known that the county was considering the Kirkland site for its next shelter space, several residents expressed concerns over its proximity to at least four schools, as well as the area’s status as “a major hub for several businesses” along the border between Kirkland and Bellevue.

“The property lies on the Bellevue/Kirkland border and is viewed as the ‘Gateway’ to Kirkland,” a letter addressed to city leaders from a Kirkland parent reads. “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.”

That’s a sentiment that has been echoed by residents of cities across the region whenever hotel shelter spaces in residential areas have either been planned or considered, with nearly identical sagas having already played out in both Renton and Redmond.

To address that, King County and Kirkland leaders plan to work with the local community to develop what’s commonly known as a “Good Neighbor Agreement.” In the past, cities like Seattle and Bellevue have adopted these pacts to establish guidelines for security, crime prevention, shelter intake processes, increase police patrols, and provide resources that point unhoused individuals toward alternate shelter facilities when hotel spaces are at capacity.

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King County plans to have a Good Neighbor Agreement for the La Quinta Inn shelter in place before it begins taking in residents in 2023. That process will kick off with public meetings set for spring of 2022. The planned shelter will also feature 24/7 onsite staffing, as well as case management and behavioral health services.

“Kirkland firmly believes in the vision for the Health Through Housing Initiative as it aligns with Kirkland’s values of providing help and services to those experiencing homelessness in our city and our region,” Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet said in a Thursday press release. “The conversion of this hotel into permanent supportive housing will save lives and continue Kirkland’s commitment to being a safe, inclusive, and welcoming community where everyone belongs.”

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the County, Executive Constantine, and the community to ensure this site is a safe, successful part of the solution that addresses the growing homelessness humanitarian crisis in our region,” she added.

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King County moving forward with plan to convert Kirkland hotel into homeless shelter