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Redmond residents protest homeless housing project in downtown area

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(The Center Square) – More than 50 demonstrators turned out in front of Redmond’s City Hall Tuesday evening, protesting what they claim is a lack of transparency and public input regarding the planned construction of six-story, 100-unit housing facility that aims to get people out of homelessness.

Opponents of the housing project became further disgruntled at Redmond city officials for cutting public comment time from three minutes to one minute during an April 9 city council study session.

The campaign, Safe Eastside, organized the rally outside of city hall, calling out the Redmond City Council for approving the transfer of public land, purchased by the city for $5.5 million, to Plymouth Housing.

The website claims that the city council hastily approved the public land transfer, without allowing public input and that Plymouth Housing will be lenient on allowing homeless people into the building in Redmond.

There are also concerns from residents regarding Plymouth Housing allowing sex offenders into the building. However, according to the organization’s frequently asked questions website page, “nobody who is living in subsidized housing in this area can be a registered sex offender.”

Plymouth Housing does note that it screens for certain kinds of offenses like meth production and some sex offenses, but it does not track residents’ personal history.

One speaker at the protest was Tasha Mae, a former lead residential specialist at one of Plymouth Housing’s buildings. Mae said she chose to resign from the organization because she said they lacked in providing supportive housing and are falling behind other organizations in successfully helping people recover from homelessness.

“One of the things that hurt me the most was when a resident said, ‘I knew you were not going to last very long because you’re too nice,’” Mae told the Redmond City Council on Tuesday. “And that broke my heart, because I actually care about people.”

While the majority of people who spoke during Tuesday’s public comment period were against the Plymouth Housing project, a number of commenters voiced their support for the project.

OneRedmond, which serves as the city’s chamber of commerce, supports the Plymouth Housing project. CEO Kristina Hudson spoke on behalf of the chamber, saying the project serves as a benefit to businesses in the downtown area by getting homeless people off the streets.

“Homelessness is not just a Seattle problem, it is an east side [King County] problem,” Hudson said. “We receive frequent reports from our business members of homeless camping and dumpster enclosures behind buildings and low visibility spots – there needs to be a comprehensive solution as police response is simply not enough.”

Funding sources for the project’s construction also include low-income housing tax credits, A Regional Coalition for Housing, State Housing Trust Fund, Plymouth Housing, and a direct appropriation from the state.

According to new projections, Redmond will need nearly 24,000 units of affordable housing by 2044. Redmond is a high-cost area with a median income of $137,000 per year.

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