South Snohomish County sites reviewed for affordable housing

Housing Hope is exploring locations with the Edmonds School District and Edmonds Lutheran Church.

LYNNWOOD — An Everett-based nonprofit is in early discussions to expand affordable housing opportunities in south Snohomish County.

Housing Hope is exploring, in separate negotiations with the Edmonds School District and Edmonds Lutheran Church, the possibility of turning surplus land into living spaces. Scriber Baseball Field, 1.8 acres of land in Lynnwood owned by the school district, and a lot neighboring the church are being eyed for development.

The locations would be Housing Hope’s first projects in an area that is becoming a growing priority for the supportive housing supplier, said CEO Fred Saftstrom.

“We were created to serve all of Snohomish County and we really have not done anything in south county to date,” Safstrom said. Of Housing Hope’s more than 40 properties in the county, a complex near 128th Street outside Everett is the farthest south.

The proposal between the Edmonds School District and Housing Hope mirrors an agreement made with the Everett School District in 2019. Housing Hope would lease the land for $1 per year for 75 years with the condition that affordable housing be built to serve homeless students and their families.

The Everett project was ultimately rejected by the city council after vigorous dissent from neighbors of the proposed site.

Down south, the Edmonds School District, the city of Lynnwood and the county have been working with Housing Hope on a supportive housing project for about a year.

The school district reported 489 students experienced homelessness during the past school year.

Graduation rates for students experiencing homelessness were more than 20% lower than the district-wide mark. The pandemic is making that disparity even greater, district Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab said.

Originally, the plan was for the district to buy the Rodeo Inn on Highway 99 and have it remodeled into supportive housing. But that became too costly, Schwab said.

In August, they identified the Scriber Baseball Field as a possible site.

Both Safstrom and Schwab are confident they’ll avoid the opposition that curtailed the Everett development.

“We’re pretty certain that the mayor and city council are supportive of this project,” Schwab said.

A site neighboring Edmonds Lutheran Church, 23525 84th Ave W, is also being explored as a location for housing.

The church was previously in agreement with a Seattle company to put prefabricated homes on the site. The arrangement fell through. Then Housing Hope stepped in.

“They have a heart for serving low-income people and I think it is a really good fit,” Safstrom said.

Estimates were preliminary, but Safstrom projected 60 to 70 units of housing at the site in two to three years.

A project at Scriber Baseball Field, along 58th Place W, would require changes to land designations in Lynnwood — adding an extra year to any timeline for the proposal of 40 to 50 units for students and families.

“That would go a long way to support our students and families that are experiencing homelessness,” Schwab said.

Pacific Little League uses the ballfield as the home for its upper-division teams.

President Rhienn Davis said the league would need to adapt without the field, but he couldn’t see the group resisting the development.

“We want all of the kids in our community to have the stability in their lives that allows them to focus on school and maybe even come play Little League,” Davis said in an email.

The Edmonds School Board is scheduled to continue discussion on the proposal during a school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to www.heraldnet.com/support.

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