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

Anastasia Allison poses with samples of her Kula Cloth, a pee cloth for women to use outdoors, near her home on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 in Arlington, Washington. Allison's invention has caught the eye of outdoor retail giant REI and will being selling them in stores soon. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Kula Cloth tries to wipe away the mountains of toilet paper

An Arlington woman’s “spiritual awakening via pee cloth” led to a popular product for outdoorsy women.

This series of screenshots taken from an iPhone with COVID-19 exposure notifications turned on for Washington state shows some of the information presented to iPhone users who are considering opting in to a new statewide coronavirus exposure notification program that was launched Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Washington state that uses smartphone technology in the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People with Apple iPhones can now enable the 'exposure notifications' feature that is already in their phone's settings, and Android devices can download the app, called Washington Exposure Notifications. Use of the service is voluntary and users can opt out at any time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington launches statewide COVID-19 notification app

Modeling predicted significant decreases in infections and deaths if at least 15% of people use the app.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joe Wilson.
Snohomish County judge censured for profanity, reversed cases

It’s the third year in a row Judge Joseph Wilson has faced questions over his conduct on the bench.

A boat drives out of the Port of Everett Marina in front of Boxcar Park, which is one of the sites set to be elevated in preparation for rising sea levels on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How the Port of Everett is preparing for a rising sea level

Big and little changes are in the works along the north Everett shore, though they are easy to overlook.

Visitors view photos of people who were killed by police in Washington State and elsewhere, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Police have pulled back from a part of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the department's East Precinct after recent clashes with people protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Lawmakers, activists set ambitious agenda for police reform

The bills being drafted represent a broad overhaul of policing and police accountability in Washington.

One person hospitalized after Everett house fire

The person was taken to Harborview Medical Center after the Sperry Lane home caught fire.

View of trees at 5th Avenue S and Main Street in Edmonds. (City of Edmonds)
Edmonds council: Home developers, put down those chainsaws!

A new moratorium halts the subdivision of land that has more than eight trees per 10,000 square feet.

The Avenue A/Riverfront Gazebo decorated for the holidays on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The venerable Snohomish gazebo is in need of a remodel

The popular place for marriage proposals is in disrepair and is expected to be rebuilt in 2021.

Leslie Bringedahl grabs a bag containing books she and her husband Mark ordered after Circulation Manager Carol  puts them down on a wall during curbside pickup at the Everett Public Library on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in Everett, Wa.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Everett council looks to fund fireworks, Jetty Island ferry

The Carl Gipson Senior Center and boosting library funding are also “quality of life” priorities.

Most Read