Housing for low-income families coming to Edmonds Lutheran Church property

Artist’s conception of the 52-unit housing project planned for the vacant field adjacent to Edmonds Lutheran Church on 236th Street Southwest near Highway 99.

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).

In operation for 34 years, Housing Hope of Everett has overseen construction and management of almost 50 low-income projects throughout Snohomish County.

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).

Artist’s conception of the building site from above, with 236th Street Southwest on the right.

“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

  1. Lets be sure it is pretty. And lets make it a place to be proud to live.
    I think this is a great idea and a real good start and I say Thank you to the Lutheran Church for all they have done during our times of struggle here. I commend them. I don’t attend that church but I sure think they seem to care a lot. I like compass health. Maybe just maybe this is all going to turn out ok. I am keeping a positive attitude and am waiting for safety (covid) compro for me) but in spirit I am out there. I am thinking every day of what I want to say to the people in this area. I plan to do so. I don’t think you have to be a candidate to speak to people if you can get their attention and they know you mean it I think they will be pleased and feel welcome and they are. We together that is all political parties, and all residents must come together… It if we do it all just right up here can really help this whole area with love and work. I say after winter we hit the ground running and offer our services with what ever is needed from painting to design to asking what they would like?? All of it. I’m into it but it has to be done the Edmonds way NOT the Seattle way. These folks will like being loved to death instead of being constantly called on to do the really don’t care about anybody Seattle Council. Sorry folks thats how I see it. Forgive me if that offends but we are different here so we should act accordingly. Lots of darn good job if we can get folks in shape and excited and healthy. Their lives could change after that first big pay check… SO lets go.

  2. I really do not like the yellow on the corner building. Other than that I am happy to see this project moving forward!

  3. How wonderful! What a great project, and we need more of those to help people in need. Looks as though Edmonds Lutheran walks the talk of “Love your neighbor.”

  4. Yay Pastor Tim and Edmonds Lutheran Congregation !!
    Thanks for pushing through the obstacles .
    Thanks for walking the talk.
    You are an inspiration and role model for all of us .

  5. Hopefully this will be a more acceptable concept for the rest of the local neighborhood there, that will be impacted by such a project. Neighborhood objection was one of the major stumbling blocks for the previous abandoned concept proposed for the property. I know the church has done a great deal of outreach in the neighborhood and the Edmonds community as a whole. Anyway, my best hopes and wishes for everyone involved in this great humanitarian effort that is so badly needed virtually everywhere locally and nationally now. Everyone needs a home of some sort and there should be more affordable options available to those who need them. Public and Private co-operatives are probably the best possible choice for doing this.

  6. Housing Hope is a wonderful organization, with the know-how to do it right. I’ve been hoping they would make it down to Edmonds!

    1. Thank you Sarah. If you ever want to learn more about the project or give it your formal endorsement, we would be glad to meet with you or use your statement in our development documents.

  7. Housing Hope is an admirable organization with an important mission and work in our community. They have solid leadership that does their homework and is invested in making our communities better and serving those most in need. I say this from a position of deep knowledge of their work through my own day-to-day job in Everett. Not only is this development immensely more appropriate for Edmonds and our community than what was previously proposed on this site (I also say this as a resident of Lake Ballinger living somewhat in proximity to this property), their similar property that I am most knowledgeable about in Downtown Everett has helped many families on the path from homelessness and has added depth and richness to the community. I am confident the same will happen here in Edmonds, and hopefully will coincide nicely with the larger redevelopment plans for the HWY99 corridor. Very exciting.

  8. That’s a lot of units for that parcel. What are the plans to provide parking as street parking is very limited in this neighborhood?

  9. I’m from Seattle, moved to Edmonds recently, and the people here are exactly the same. Actually, they are less welcoming because of their NIMBY attitudes while wanting to feel like they are helping.

    1. If 50% of income is near 45,000… I’m assuming rent will be anywhere from 1250 to 3000 a month. That’s not cheap. I make currently (approx) 20,000 and pay 1325 a month for a two bedroom.
      If someone is coming up from living ” on the streets” or in thier car…..To pay THAT much a month is not easy.
      So much talk about ” low income housing” …
      But seems a NEW building would have huge debt owed and therefore higher prices to pay….
      Just a thought …a sad realistic one!!!

      1. Mr. Schlutz-
        Residents will pay 30% of their actual income for rent and utilities. The debt on the project is low due to anticipated grant awards from Snohomish County, State of Washington and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

        Thank you.

  10. There are amazing people in this world who really do take care of others, even in our government. So glad that these conversations explained things. There is HOPE, and we can make things happen. I’m grateful.

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