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City of Kirkland signals support for sheltering homeless in local hotel

King County is considering purchasing the La Quinta Inn in Kirkland as the next property in its Health Through Housing initiative.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — King County is considering purchasing the La Quinta Inn in Kirkland as the next property in its Health Through Housing initiative, a move for which the city signaled its support Tuesday evening in a Facebook post.

The Health Through Housing program was announced in 2020 and is a strategy developed by Executive Dow Constantine’s office to rapidly acquire permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness throughout the county.

The program allocates funds to purchasing hotels and apartment buildings in order to provide stable housing to homeless individuals as well as wraparound services.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Constantine explained that the purchase of the hotel has not been finalized as the county continues to assess the suitability of the property.

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“I am looking forward to working closely with the City of Kirkland - welcoming partners who have voiced strong support and partnership in building a regional solution to this regional challenge,” Constantine said in a statement.

As Kirkland City Manager Kirk Triplett explains in the Tuesday post, “This site would provide a permanent home, including the stability of privacy, the same bed to sleep in every night, and one’s own bathroom. Tenants will also have connections to health and behavioral health treatment and services, 24/7 on-site staffing, as well as a case manager to help navigate community systems. Studies show these elements create a solid base to begin to rebuild lives. This would not be a homeless shelter.”

However, some residents responded to the post, which was itself a response to “numerous” questions about the potential project, with concern. One commenter pointed out that the La Quinta Inn, located on Northup Way near Lake Washington Boulevard NE, is within a block of two schools. Another commenter mentioned heightened police activity.

Despite the project being unfinalized, Triplett said that the city and county are beginning a community engagement process over the project, adding, “Kirkland staff and councilmembers are already reaching out to key stakeholders near La Quinta and throughout the community.”

The Health Through Housing program already has eight properties, with the goal being to create up to 1,600 emergency housing and permanent supportive housing units by the end of this year.

Of the county's hotels, two are being used to house the homeless. Two others are used for quarantining those with COVID-19 and housing Afghan refugees. Others are pending renovation and permitting before they can be used as shelter.

The program is paid for by one-tenth of every cent from sales tax revenues and was approved by the county council.

Kirkland has dedicated a page on its website to answer residents' questions about the potential La Quinta Inn project.

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