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Kenmore rejects housing plan after switch from formerly homeless, vets to homeless

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(The Center Square) – The City of Kenmore declined to build a supportive housing building that would consist of 100 residential units, despite securing over $30M in funding for the project.

The rejected project was a six-story building with five stories of residential units. In total, there would have been 100 residential units with a mix of one-bedroom and studio units. Services also included case management and health and social services for residents.

The city partnered with the nonprofits, Plymouth Housing and A Regional Coalition for Housing – better known as “ARCH”, to develop affordable housing, with Plymouth playing a key role in operations.

The city allocated $3.2 million in funds for the development of this affordable housing in partnership with Plymouth. In addition, ARCH designated over $3 million in ARCH Trust Fund dollars for the project.

Out of the total funds dedicated to the scrapped project, 75% of that funding ($30 million) comes from two sources: the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

The project originally had a focus on seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities and those who were formerly homeless. However, that changed to a requirement to serve people who are single adults with no children with an income of 30% or less of area median income and are homeless at entry. This change was a condition of funding from the Department of Commerce and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

In a Kenmore City Council meeting on Dec. 11, a number of residents spoke against the proposed building during public comment, saying that they felt misled by the project as it was adjusted to serve homeless people, rather than seniors and veterans and formerly homeless.

After eight hours, the city council voted 6-1 against the proposed supportive housing building.

The decision to decline expanding supportive housing in the city comes despite affordable housing being the Kenmore City Council’s number two priority for 2023.

The Center Square reached out to King County Regional Homelessness Authority for an estimate on the number of homeless people in Kenmore, but Senior Director of External Affairs Anne Martens said the data would take some time to collect.

However, Martens did note that the city currently has two emergency shelters and one day center, all of which exclusively serve women or women with children. In the North King County region, there are three permanent supportive housing programs.

Data from the Regional Services Database shows that one of the programs consists of seven beds for veterans only, one with 19 beds in Shoreline for veterans only, and one with 44 beds in Shoreline for families with children.

“Adding 100 units of Permanent Supportive Housing – which is affordable housing with supportive services for people who have higher healthcare needs – would make a difference,” Martens told The Center Square in an email.

If the project were approved by the city council, construction would have begun in mid-2024.

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