Snohomish County seeks to buy hotel to convert into shelter

County Council members approved an agreement for a firm to scope out and potentially buy a property with 125 rooms in Everett.

EVERETT — Snohomish County is searching for an Everett hotel to shelter a fraction of the local homeless population.

On Monday, county councilmembers greenlit a contract with Kidder Mathews to help scope out and potentially buy a property with 125 rooms.

“This small first step is critical for the county to respond to community concerns and address the homeless epidemic in our county,” District 2 Councilmember Megan Dunn said Monday in an email. “As we move into the cold weather season, we’re reminded of how great the need is to shelter those who are sleeping outside.”

According to county spokesperson Kent Patton, no specific hotel has been identified yet and much of the plan still needs to be fleshed out.

“We would still have to find a building, buy it, prepare it, secure an operator, etc.,” he wrote in an email. “There is still a significant amount of work to be done before anything is operational.”

Documents show county officials want the facility to be located in Everett.

American Rescue Plan dollars will pay for property acquisition. The funds will also cover a $220,000 agreement with Kidder Matthews and any potential subcontractors.

Kidder Mathews, the West Coast’s largest independent commercial real estate firm, helped King County buy several hotels this year, turning more than 800 rooms into emergency and permanent supportive housing through the county’s “Health Through Housing” initiative. The idea was to take advantage of pandemic market conditions and use existing space instead of starting from scratch.

Snohomish County documents reference Kidder Mathews’ work in the Seattle area.

In 2020, a point-in-time count reported 1,132 people in Snohomish County either living unsheltered or staying in emergency or transitional housing, a roughly 35% increase over the previous five years. The pandemic hampered this year’s count.

The Snohomish County Council voted 4-1 to authorize the agreement with Kidder Mathews. The no vote came from Councilmember Sam Low, who told The Daily Herald, “I don’t think the county should be in the hotel business.”

“I think the community should have a voice … before the county comes in and starts buying hotels in their city. That’s the bottom line,” Low said. “If the city wants to send off a letter through the council or mayor saying, ‘We want this,’ that’s a voice.”

Everett city officials are aware of the county’s plan, city spokesperson Julio Cortes said Monday afternoon.

“We are very encouraged by the County’s willingness to use some of its resources to respond to the homeless crisis that continues to persist in our community,” he wrote in an email. “The Mayor has been working closely with the Executive’s office as well as other jurisdictions to discuss utilizing ARPA funds and other federal resources to address these important issues.”

The county does not plan to buy more than one hotel, Patton said. But “there may be future conversations if a significant need arises in other areas of housing.”

Patton said the “first facility” will only serve people without homes.

Council documents also reference a pressing need to help the rising number of refugees in Snohomish County.

Van Dinh-Kuno, executive director of Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest based at Everett Community College, said she has concerns about mixing the separate needs of homeless and refugee populations. But a hotel offering shelter specifically to incoming refugees could be a “lifesaver,” she said.

Refugees, including an influx of Afghan families, are being placed in local hotels anyway. A county-owned shelter would mean less time spent on figuring out placements and paperwork.

And, Dinh-Kuno said, refugees could “support each other if they stay in one location.”

Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; claudia.yaw@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @yawclaudia.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A car breaks and waits for traffic to pass before turning onto 123rd Avenue on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Can roundabouts, lower speed limit make 84th Street NE safer?

Maybe, but transportation and disability advocates want design features to make crossing safe.

Two brother bear cubs, burned in a fire last summer, were recently reunited at PAWS in Lynnwood. (PAWS) 20211129
Bear cubs, burned in wildfires, reunited in viral video in Lynnwood

The brother cubs are being treated at PAWS Wildlife Center. They were injured in a wildfire near Lake Chelan.

Madison is one of three aging elementary schools that would be torn down and replaced if the Everett schools bond is passed next year. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Everett school leaders have 2 big levies on February ballot

The district is asking voters to renew a levy for programs and operations, and to pass a $325 million capital and tech levy.

Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

A fatal crash prompted closure of West Mukilteo Boulevard between Forest Park and Dogwood Drive Friday afternoon. (Everett Police Department) 20211126
2 identified in deadly T-bone crash in Everett

Otila Retel Azanedo de Jones, 67, and William Jones, 85, died at the scene.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

A man died after he was found with gunshot wounds Saturday in downtown Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Man dead after shooting in downtown Everett

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found near California Street and Rockefeller Avenue.

Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Puget Sound-based Carrier Strike Group 11, in Bremerton on Nov. 23, 2021. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin McTaggart)
From Everett, this rear admiral commands a Navy strike group

Christopher Sweeney leads Carrier Strike Group 11, a force of aircraft and ships stretching from here to San Diego.

A rainbow appears in front of Andy Huestis and his girlfriend Alisha Garvin as they and other families gather to remember the victims on the third anniversary of the Oso mudslide on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Oso, Wa. Huestis' sister, Christina Jefferds, and her baby granddaughter, Sanoah Violet Huestis, were among the 43 people killed in the mudslide.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Funding secured: Mudslide memorial will be a place to remember

Since 2014, families have mourned at a roadside shrine near Oso, but “we knew we needed something bigger.”

Most Read