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Former hotel in Federal Way could soon house Afghan refugees

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell said King County is preparing to temporarily house Afghan refugees in a former hotel the county owns.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — A former hotel, now owned by King County, could soon be used to temporarily house Afghan refugees.

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell said he received a call from King County Executive Dow Constantine, asking if he would be open to the idea of welcoming refugees into his city.

“My immediate response was, ‘Yes, of course,’” Ferrell said Friday.

The county purchased the former Extended Stay America hotel to use as long-term housing for chronically homeless people, as part of the Health Through Housing initiative.

Ferrell said he was told the first refugees would arriver no sooner than Sept. 14 and would stay between three and five weeks.

“I am confident that the people of this community are going to welcome them with open arms,” he said.

Ferrell said he did not know how many people might stay at the 101-unit property.

A spokesperson for Constantine’s office would not confirm the plans as of Friday.

“King County is committed to continue working with partners throughout the region to assist Afghan refugees, but currently have no contracts in place. We are working with resettlement agencies and looking at all of the counties (sic) assets to help in whatever way possible,” Constantine’s office said in a statement.

The Washington Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance said the biggest challenge in welcoming Afghans to the state is finding safe and affordable housing on very short notice.

Refugee resettlement agencies and government offices are working to find homes and connect families with services to help them build new lives.

“They’re individuals seeking freedom, a different way of life, and have come to America with the only thing in their pockets, which is hope,” Ferrell said.