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Kirkland parents push back against homeless housing near school

Some residents in Kirkland are expressing concern over a plan to turn a former hotel into housing for the homeless.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Some residents are protesting a plan to turn the former La Quinta Inn & Suites in Kirkland into housing for the homeless.

Among their concerns is how close the proposed site is to several schools.

“We’re parents. We’re afraid for our kids,” said Mike Raskin, a parent of two students who attend Eastside Preparatory School, which borders the hotel. “We want to see the proof that this type of facility is OK next to a school.”

Raskin is among of group of parents who said they’re sympathetic but fear this effort is misguided.

“We’re happy to have a low-barrier facility in Kirkland,” said Raskin. “We’re supportive of homeless solutions. We’d be supportive of an affordable housing project here. We’re just not supportive of a low barrier facility right next to a school.”

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The project is all under the umbrella of King County’s “Health Through Housing Initiative.” 

To date, the county said it has acquired 10 buildings totaling 986 units across six cities. Four of those buildings are housing residents, while the rest, including the La Quinta location in Kirkland, are in some phase of development.

The plan calls for more than just housing for the homeless. Each resident would get connections to mental health treatment, access to case managers and 24/7 on-site staffing.

“I understand feeling some concern and having some questions, but I think if you really look at the research and the data, we don’t have to choose,” said Kirkland resident MJ Carlson. “We can help the folks that are homeless without putting other folks at risk.”

Despite mixed opinions, King County announced in March it had purchased the Kirkland La Quinta.

Last month, the group “Keep Kids Safe Kirkland” filed a lawsuit claiming the purchase of the motel was orchestrated behind closed doors, which would violate the public meetings act.

The mayor of Kirkland responded claiming the “complaint is without merit.”

Despite their concerns, the county said it plans to welcome its first residents sometime in 2023.

Neither the mayor of Kirkland nor King County Executive Dow Constantine would provide further comment due to the ongoing litigation. 

The city of Kirkland will host the first of many small group public comment meetings on this issue Thursday.

   

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