EVERETT — Snohomish County is moving forward with its plan to convert an Everett hotel into emergency housing. On Monday, officials announced a tentative agreement to buy the Days Inn near the Everett Mall to shelter as many as 74 people.
The County Council plans to hear public comment and vote on the idea Aug. 17.
Officials first unveiled the plan late last year, contracting with the same real estate firm that helped King County transform hundreds of motel rooms into permanent supportive housing. The idea is that converting hotels is cheaper and faster than building shelters from the ground up.
Back then, only one Snohomish County councilmember, Sam Low, voted against the proposal, which would use one-time pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. It’s one of many county initiatives to address a growing homeless population, including a new sales tax.
The price tag is $10.8 million for the property at 1602 SE Everett Mall Way, or a cost of about $146,000 per unit.
“Purchasing this property is addressing urban homelessness with dignified housing,” County Council Chair Megan Dunn said in a news release. “Having a safe place to stay for our most vulnerable residents and managing this site with 24/7 hour staffing, wraparound services, and coordination with Everett is meeting a critical need in our community.”
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said providing shelter and addressing public safety challenges related to homelessness is a top priority for city residents.
“This is a necessary action to making all our residents safer,” Franklin said.
Snohomish County’s homeless population is at a 10-year high, according to its most recent point-in-time count. Volunteers tallied 1,184 people living on the streets, in shelters or transitional housing.
The county only has 646 year-round shelter beds, as of late last year.
If approved, the 74 hotel units are among 110 shelter spaces that could open in the county this year. That’s with the help of the county’s new Shelter & Behavioral Health Partnership Program. The program is a collaboration with nine cities. Some $9 million from ARPA are funding 11 projects. That includes Pallet shelters, case management services and school-based counselors, all aiming to expand access to housing and social services.
The Days Inn has already housed some locals with emergency motel vouchers. The county estimates about 120 people sought shelter there over the past year. Buying the whole facility means residents will have access to food and hygiene items, employment and legal services, and mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
The hotel will offer “time-limited” housing, although guests’ lengths of stay will likely depend on their individual circumstances, rather than a hard deadline, said Kelsey Nyland, a spokesperson with the county’s Office of Recovery and Resilience.
If approved, the hotel purchase could be the first of several for the county. It plans on buying more in the coming weeks and conducting community outreach to answer residents’ questions and get input.
Already, residents identified transitional housing as a priority at some of the county’s “Recovery Roadshows,” where constituents were asked how the county should spend its federal recovery dollars.
“We have heard the community loud and clear,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said. “Now is the time to make substantial, creative investments to increase housing supply across our county.”