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Everett council vote paves way for homeless housing project

The council reversed it's stance on a moratorium on low-income developments within single-family zones that would have expired this month.

EVERETT, Wash. — The Everett City Council voted to allow low-income housing within the Port Gardner neighborhood. 

On Wednesday night, the council reversed it's stance on a moratorium on low-income developments within single-family zones that would have expired this month.

City staff and council members will now work on a revised ordinance that could be up for a vote within weeks. 

Homeless families could be living on what is now a three-acre field. 

"The field is just a place for people to play. There were kids down here last night playing baseball," said neighbor Mike Schladetsky. "It's the last local field to walk your dogs."

The field is owned by the Everett School District and sits just behind Sequoia High School.

With some 1,400 homeless students in Everett, the district agreed to lease the land to Housing Hope, which wants to build low-income apartments for up to 50 students and their families.

"It really is ideal," said Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom.

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Land donations like the one the Everett School District has done is rare, as is the opportunity to change so many young lives at one time.

"They've been through some very challenging times," says Safstrom. "This would be a big step to stabilize their family life and give them a better chance to succeed in school."

Neighbors, however, worry that along with eliminating their park, the development would ruin the character of their neighborhood as well as increase traffic.

"They need low-income housing, but there's gotta be other ways instead of taking up every last piece of green space there is left," said Schladetzky. 

"At the end of the day, if this property isn't made available for this project, the project simply goes away," said Safstrom. "That means all those families remain homeless, and I certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes."