A photomosaic of the area of the Baker Heights public housing complex in Everett’s Delta neighborhood east of Broadway. It is expected to be demolished. Part of the site is being redeveloped into new housing that will primarily serve homeless families with students in the Everett School District. (Everett Housing Authority)

A photomosaic of the area of the Baker Heights public housing complex in Everett’s Delta neighborhood east of Broadway. It is expected to be demolished. Part of the site is being redeveloped into new housing that will primarily serve homeless families with students in the Everett School District. (Everett Housing Authority)

A vision for Everett’s homeless students and their families

An 82-unit complex, with social services on site, is planned for Baker Heights in north Everett.

EVERETT — The Everett School District has a concentration of homeless students in the north end of the city, particularly the areas served by Garfield and Hawthorne elementaries east of Broadway.

In the coming years, some of those families could become eligible for placement in a new $27.1 million housing project.

Cynthia Jones oversees the district’s programs supporting homeless students. She spoke this past June at an affordable housing conference for Everett and Snohomish County.

In the audience was Steve Yago, the Everett Housing Authority’s director of real estate acquisition.

He remembers thinking, “This is right in our back yard, and this is not being served.”

That sparked an idea that might be the first project of its kind in the region, he said.

The housing authority is seeking to build a new 82-unit complex in Everett’s Delta neighborhood. The units primarily would serve families who are homeless and have children in the school district, which would provide the referrals. Campuses served also would include North Middle School and Everett High School.

The numbers show the need. In the 2016-17 academic year, Everett schools counted 1,150 students who were homeless, and the figure is growing, according to public records.

Housing projects, both locally and nationally, are trending toward units that serve one or two people, said Ashley Lommers-Johnson, executive director of the Everett Housing Authority. One factor is the recent emphasis on serving the chronically homeless and the mentally ill. Several of those projects are under way in town.

Larger units with multiple bedrooms cost more to build and to operate, he said.

“We have made families with children a key part of future funding,” he said. “It’s part of our goal of addressing generational poverty.”

The site of the new development is what is now the Baker Heights public housing project. The buildings there have been deemed obsolete. The foundations, floor supports and roofs are failing, and the wood is rotting, according to a June letter issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Everett Housing Authority is an independent public agency whose board members are appointed by elected city leaders. The agency has been relocating more than 240 households from Baker Heights.

Eventually the agency plans to create enough new, subsidized housing, largely through purchasing property, to offset the loss of units in the demolition of Baker Heights, Lommers-Johnson said.

“We have made a public commitment that we will replace all 244 units,” he said.

The land underneath the complex is appraised at $4.21 million, according to public records. The housing authority plans to keep 3.6 acres and sell the rest, which is about 11 acres. There has been talk about WSU Everett becoming the buyer, a notion that has drawn support from Mayor Cassie Franklin.

That’s far from final, though. Federal policy requires the housing authority to solicit bids for the property through a public process. That hasn’t started yet.

The budget for the new housing project, tentatively named the “Baker Heights Townhomes,” runs about $27.1 million. Most of that would come from federal tax credits.

Construction is scheduled in two phases. Work on the first phase, with 43 apartments, could start in spring 2019. Most of the units would have two or three bedrooms, Yago said. The second phase, with 39 town-homes, depends on funding but might follow before the end of next year. The rent rates would be based on each family’s income.

The new development would have social services on site, with an emphasis on education and employment, Lommers-Johnson said. Early in the planning, the housing authority asked the school district for feedback. The schools stressed the importance of early learning.

The district has said it likely could run a preschool at the location, primarily serving the children of tenants. If that happens, it would become one of many ways the district aims to help students who lack stable housing, Jones said.

Homelessness can be devastating to someone’s education, especially when he or she is changing schools frequently, Jones said. Those children and teens are more likely to miss classes, and less likely to graduate on time, even with district-provided transportation. The more they move around, the further behind they fall academically.

“What they really need more than anything else is a home,” Jones said.

Together the housing authority and school district will collect and compare data about outcomes for children and adults, Lommers-Johnson said.

“By pushing this project, we’re really making a statement about our values and our investment,” Lommers-Johnson said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Staff are evaluating two more light rail alternatives for the Everett Link extension. One would follow Interstate 5 north of 128th Street SW to the Everett Mall and back to the freeway. Another would go west of 128th Street SW to Highway 99 and north to Casino Road. (Sound Transit)
Snohomish County leaders reject light rail routes bypassing Paine Field

Those options weren’t what voters approved — and would be like “butchering” the plan, the Snohomish County executive said.

A Sound Transit train arrives at Westlake Station in downtown Seattle. (Sue Misao / Herald file) May 2019
Should light rail skip Paine Field and Boeing? We asked, you answered

More than 300 Herald readers responded to an online poll. Here are the results.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Lynnwood City Council members, from left: Jim Smith, Shirley Sutton, Shannon Sessions, Josh Binda, George Hurst, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, and Patrick Decker. (City of Lynnwood)
No penalty for Lynnwood council member’s ‘underinformed’ views on racism

The City Council didn’t censure Jim Smith after a report found he discriminated against a Black city employee.

All ears: Mukilteo couple provides surgery for kids born without ears

Dr. Prabhat and Trish Bhama are part of a HUGS volunteer team providing treatment for microtia in Guatemala.

(Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - US Forest Service)
U.S. 2 reopens east of Index as Bolt Creek wildfire moves north

The highway was blocked off earlier this week as the fire spread.

People gather outside of the new Northwest Carpenters Institute building prior to a grand opening celebration Thursday, Sep. 29, 2022, in Burlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Building a workforce: Northwest Carpenters expand training center

About 160 Snohomish County tradespeople take the apprentice classes in Burlington center. There’s ample room to grow.

A Coast Guard cutter searches for a crashed chartered floatplane near Mutiny Bay Monday afternoon in Freeland, Washington on September 5, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
5 more bodies recovered from floatplane crash off Whidbey

About 80% of the plane, including the engine, was recovered using remotely operated vessels.

Conceptual rendering for a future section of Smokey Point Boulevard between 174th Place NE and 200th Street NE. (City of Arlington)
Plan seeks to transform Smokey Point Blvd. into ‘neighborhood corridor’

City officials hope roundabouts, sidewalks and more will turn 2 miles of busy road into a neighborhood street.

Most Read