A new building that will provide homes for 52 low-income families is planned for south Edmonds. Spearheaded by Everett-based Housing Hope in partnership with Edmonds Lutheran Church, the new project will be built on the church’s open field, located on 236th Street Southwest near Highway 99.
The site is the former location of the proposed Blokable project, a collaboration between Compass Housing Alliance, housing manufacturer Blokable and Edmonds Lutheran Church. It fell victim to a combination of shifting priorities at Compass and financing difficulties. Originally calling for the property to be transferred to Compass, the project “unwound” in early 2020, and the ownership of the property ultimately stayed with the church.
The new development for the Edmonds Lutheran property is being spearheaded by Housing Hope of Everett as part of its mission to “promote and provide affordable housing and tailored services to reduce homelessness and poverty for residents of Snohomish County and Camano Island.” Incorporated in 1987 through the efforts of the North Snohomish County Council of Churches, Housing Hope has developed 479 residential units at 22 locations and 301 home ownership houses throughout Snohomish County (see map).
For its first three decades, Housing Hope developed projects in the Everett area and the north and east sections of the county, but the organization is now focused on the South Snohomish County. In addition to the Edmonds Lutheran project, a 60-unit building is in the pipeline for Marysville. And a 52-unit building — planned for the Edmonds School District-owned Scriber baseball field in Lynnwood — is in the design phase. More details are available on the Housing Hope website.
“When the Compass deal unwound, we became aware of the opportunity and started discussions with the church about who we are and what we can do,” said Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom.
This led to a memorandum of understanding with the church in November 2020 that laid out plans for Housing Hope to acquire the land and build a 52-unit low-income housing project. It will include six one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom, and 12 three-bedroom units.
“Our target is to have half of these units occupied by families presently experiencing homelessness,” explained Safstrom. “In addition, half of the tenants will have incomes at 50% or less of the area median income. (Note: in 2019 the Snohomish County area median income was $89,260).
“Basically, we operate on a housing-first model,” Safstrom continued. “Families come to us with all sorts of backgrounds. We work with them, help them to address barriers that stand in the way of them earning adequate income and achieving self-sufficiency. We’re an agency that doesn’t just provide housing. We link it with a rich services program that assists families to address barriers like homelessness and poverty, and then help them move on.”
The programs include basic life skills such as how to budget and manage a household, be an effective parent, and maintain personal health. While many of these services are provided in-house, Housing Hope also works with specialty providers to focus on areas including job experience (for example, on-the-job training) and chemical dependency.
Edmonds Lutheran Pastor Tim Oleson said the project is a perfect fit for the congregation’s overall mission and goals.
“Using our east lot for affordable housing has been a long-hoped-for dream of this church community,” Oleson said. “We take seriously our call of the gospel to care for those needing help and support, and we know that affordable and stable housing is a serious need, along with the health and healing that comes with secure housing. We are excited to have found a new partner in Housing Hope, who has a great track record and solid examples of running and managing housing. We are happy to be partnering with them, and to have them as our neighbor.”
According to Housing Hope CEO Safstrom, financing for the project is currently being finalized, and if all goes well should be complete by the end of 2021. A permit application has not yet been submitted to the City of Edmonds, but construction is projected to start in mid-2022, and the building would be ready for occupancy in late 2023.
— By Larry Vogel