LYNNWOOD — The Edmonds School District has agreed to lease surplus property with the goal of permanently housing about 50 of the district’s homeless families in a new apartment complex.
Housing Hope, a nonprofit and affordable housing developer, is leasing 2.2 acres from the district for $1 per year. According to its agreement with the district, the nonprofit will construct an apartment building that is at least two stories tall for low-income families.
The Edmonds School Board unanimously approved the deal in December. The city of Lynnwood has already approved the necessary zoning changes. The property, known as the Cedar Valley Ballfield, is near Cedar Valley Elementary School in Lynnwood, just east of Highway 99 on 194th Street SW. Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom said construction could begin as early as next year.
“They’ve been great to work with,” Safstrom said of the Edmonds School District. “The city of Lynnwood has also been incredibly supportive.”
As of January, 425 students are homeless in the Edmonds School District, Karla Sanchez Bravo, the district’s homeless, foster care and migrant student education coordinator, told the School Board.
“We’re seeing a lot of issues preventing families from accessing housing in the area,” Sanchez Bravo said. “… We’re also seeing an increase in the number of immigrant families, many that are doubled up. In some situations, we’re seeing two or three families living in a two-bedroom apartment.”
Edmonds School Board Vice President Deborah Kilgore said in a statement that she looks forward to more affordable housing becoming available in the region.
“Housing instability has to be one of the most stressful situations any child could face, and such stress spills out to the classroom,” Kilgore said. “I believe that this collaboration between the Edmonds School District, city of Lynnwood, Housing Hope and other community partners will benefit not only those children and families who gain access to stable housing, but also their classmates, their schools and our larger community.”
The new apartment complex is supposed to house a greater range of homeless families than other affordable housing developments in the county. Students in the McKinney-Vento Program would qualify for the new housing, Safstrom said.
“Many of the families are couch-surfing,” Safstrom said. “They’re staying with friends but don’t have a home of their own. There’s really nothing established now to serve these families, so this is a first.”
The project is similar to one that fell through in Everett. In October 2020, the Everett City Council rejected a proposal to rezone three acres of surplus Everett School District property.
Housing Hope tries to build one affordable housing development every year, Safstrom said. Tenants are to move into the nonprofit’s current project, Twin Lakes Landing II, in early 2023. Housing Hope is also planning to build 52 apartments near Edmonds Lutheran Church.
Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.