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Everett City Council votes down nonprofit's plans to house homeless students, families

The Everett City Council voted down a proposed change in zoning laws that would have allowed the 44 unit project to be developed in the Port Gardener neighborhood.

EVERETT, Wash. — The Everett City Council dealt a serious blow to a proposed affordable housing community during Wednesday night's meeting when they voted down a change in zoning laws for the project. 

For more than a year, some people in the city's Port Gardner neighborhood have opposed the project that would house homeless students and their families. 

The development is designed by Housing Hope, which has 11 other low-income housing developments in Everett, including two within a few blocks of the proposed site.

The new building would be 44 units. The project site is a vacant playfield that was donated to developers by the school district. 

The council's vote effectively blocks Housing Hope's plans for the site.

“Disappointed is an understatement,” said Fred Safstrom, CEO of Housing Hope, in an interview after the council’s vote.

He said Housing Hope will look for other options, but the setback will delay their plans by at least a year.

Neighbors who oppose the project have posted signs in their yards while supporters say something needs to be done to help the 1,300 Everett Public School students who don't have a stable place to sleep. 

"It's not about ruining this neighborhood. It's about allowing the kids to see what a neighborhood looks like," said Erika Phillips, who was once homeless herself and supports the project. 

"This is just not the right spot. Our home values will decrease immediately," said neighbor Anna Quarnstrom.

Quarnstrom told KING 5 other low-income housing units nearby have caused traffic and trouble. 

KING 5 reached out to Everett police and collected data for calls for service for all of Everett's Housing Hope buildings in the past year. The data shows none of the buildings had a significant number of calls for service and, according to police, none of the calls were out of the ordinary. 

Kennedy Court, located on Norton Avenue, is one of the buildings located down the street from the proposed site and, according to Everett police, there's been only one call to 911 in the past year. 

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