County plans to purchase Edmonds Hwy 99 hotel for ‘bridge housing’ plus services

A major change to help those experiencing homelessness is coming to Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. Snohomish County plans to buy the America’s Best Value Inn on Highway 99 in Edmonds, which will provide 55 units of what’s called “bridge housing.”

Assuming approval by the Snohomish County Council, the purchase will mark the first time this type of housing will be available in South Snohomish County.

Bridge housing is designed to provide immediate shelter in a stable environment, with 24/7 support services. It is considered a first step toward permanent housing and comes with medical and mental health help, job services and other immediate needs. Kelsey Nyland, with the county’s office of recovery and resilience, said that providers in South County “have been asking for this for a long time; the need is vast across the county.”

Shannon Burley

“The county’s purchase of the America’s Best Value Inn is a natural fit,” said Shannon Burley, who oversees the City of Edmonds human services division. The city and other nonprofits already use vouchers to send people to the Best Value Inn for a few nights of emergency shelter. Burley thinks that “through partnerships with the county and nonprofit service providers, individuals will receive much needed wraparound care and services. This is a great addition for South Snohomish County.”

In the last week, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers has announced three new initiatives to dramatically increase temporary housing and health services for the homeless. The county is creating 36 new shelter and behavioral health units; announced the purchase of Everett’s Days Inn, providing 74 housing units; and now the Best Value Inn. That means 165 new housing units just this year – a 26% increase in the ability to shelter people.

Exterior of America’s Best Value Inn on Highway 99 in Edmonds.

The county is buying the Best Value Inn — located at 22127 Highway 99 — with $9.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) pandemic recovery money. “We can provide safer places for vulnerable residents, create stability to support communities’ overall health and wellbeing,” Somers said.

The Snohomish County Council is expected to confirm the purchase of both the Everett and Edmonds locations at its Wednesday meeting. It will be early fall before the deal closes, and county crews will decide if repairs or renovations are needed. The Edmonds property should be ready to accept applicants early next year.

The Edmonds City Council does not have to vote on the purchase; county approval is all that is needed.

An America’s Best Value Inn room. (Photo courtesy Snohomish County)

The county will contract with local mental and physical health professionals to staff the Best Value Inn 24/7. Only single adults or adult couples — no children — will be housed in both of the county properties. The housing will accept those who are going through substance abuse treatment. The nonprofits supervising the units will vet applicants.

Regarding security for the Hotels, Nyland said that it is “really crucial to make sure we have staff available at the facility 24/7.” She said the county had not yet made decisions about providing on-site security but added that “when there is 24/7 (staffing) the need for emergency services really decreases.”

A motel kitchenette. (Photo courtesy Snohomish County)

Verdant Health Superintendent Lisa Edwards praised the county plan: “This project will help ensure unhoused South County community members can access essential services that support wellness and guide them towards permanent housing,” she said.

Brad Smith, chief operating officer for Volunteers of America, Western Washington, said: “This is a fantastic development and comes at a time when the challenges facing our community have never been higher. Housing stability will always be the first step towards self-sufficiency, and this will provide that path forward.”

Compass Health President Tom Sebastian agreed: “A key component of our work involves helping community members access housing on their paths to recovery, and we applaud Snohomish County for making it a priority to increase crucial housing resources in our area,” he said.

You can find additional information on the county’s recovery plans at

— By Bob Throndsen

  1. What are the long term plans with managing buildings like these? I know both King and Snohomish county are buying hotels for housing and using federal grant money to make the purchase of these buildings but how does the county sustain offering these shelters to the public. Don’t get me wrong I do understand the need I just don’t understand how the county has the financial ability or the expertise to provide these services long term after the initial purchase (since these buildings are a new offering and it sounds like this will be used as free housing for those in need). Should tax payers expect property tax increases to keep these buildings running after they are purchased?

  2. The short answer to Jim’s question above, is yes the taxpayers will be footing the bills long term for this, most likely thru increased property taxes that are already too high. That doesn’t in any way negate the need for our Counties and Cities to go ahead with such programs, unless you just enjoy our libraries, parks, and public spaces in general being used as emergency housing for the indigent (for whatever reasons).

    We are property taxing what’s left of our middle class to death, to make up for not taxing extreme wealth at reasonable rates. Personally, I’m tired of watching fat cats like Bill Gates supposedly giving away their fortunes to their own foundations where they still control how their money is spent and get a huge tax deduction to boot. About thirty percent of us worship an egomaniac mad man who tired to destroy our Democracy in one fell swoop. When he didn’t pull that off he stole public documents for some reason, known only to him. Our economic system is corrupt from top to bottom and nothing will change until we make it change.

    After WWII, we educated the poor thru the G.I. Bill and we taxed obscene wealth at 70% on up. We broke up trusts and monopolies that got too powerful. We created a growing middle class (the largest the world has known), free public parks and subsidized higher education, and welfare for the indigent (aid for dependent children). At the same time we rebuilt Europe and Japan. Now we have a hand full of ultra rich folks telling us all what’s good for us and that we can’t afford to maintain Social Security and Medicare.

  3. Providing bridge housing with wraparound services to the most vulnerable residents in our community is a smart investment that will pay off in the long run. Bridge housing gives hope and will result in a safer, healthier, and more harmonious community. I am excited to see Edmonds is partnering with Snohomish County in creating hope and opportunity.

  4. The next step is to provide some monetary assistance to senior renters … they are the next homeless victims. There is no Sec 8 and rental assistance available.

    What’s happening at the former Value Village?

  5. These have worked a grand total of “zero” times in King County. All they do is attract crime and instability to the neighborhood they are in. If we want to be serious about fixing our drug addiction and mental health crisis, we would bring back involuntary institution. At the very least, we should have drug courts, where criminals who’s drug use is actively detrimental to society are given the choice between voluntarily entering treatment, or jail

  6. On the positive side, Snohomish County has had (and still has I believe) a drug court such as Mr. Iqbal suggests . As to the situation in King County, I think it is a little too soon to say that providing some sort of provisional housing hasn’t worked. We drove through the Ballard area Sunday and noted the presence of a bunch of fairly new tiny homes on a fenced in lot, obviously designed to serve this purpose. We also noted that all the trailers and tents have been removed along Commodore Way near the Fishermen’s Terminal and large concrete barriers have been placed to stop their return. Problems that have been allowed to fester for decades can’t be solved overnight or without spending lots of someone’s money. I do agree that sometimes involuntary institutionalization will be required to save some lives, and to stop violence and crime against the innocent I also think some people can’t be rehabilitated and will require ongoing public treatment and assistance for life.

  7. This particular hotel can house 55 homeless singles or couples as they transition back into regular housing. For whatever reason they are homeless currently. Are there 55 homeless people or couples in this neighborhood already? The quick answer is no. This means the county will be bringing more homeless people into the neighborhood.
    I am trying to figure out why it is a good thing to waste long term tax payer money this way when most of these people don’t want to live in shelters or, in this case, shelters with services. I believe Christine is on a better track… To Christine Koch… I back your idea and I think South Snohomish county should offer the housing to the seniors who can’t afford to live in their homes anymore. To me that would be a better investment. Since we are giving the housing up for free at least the seniors wouldn’t need the extra services which providers are lining up for (the county is about to open their checkbook) and the seniors won’t be standing on the corner of 99 and 220th begging. Lastly, I am pretty sure we have a major gang problem right near this hotel. How long will it take before the gang owns that building or, at least, the residents inside it. This is going to be a disaster of an experiment. I’m kind of getting sick of politicians telling me that they are experts in this kind of thing and it will be a good thing for the community (while they spend our tax money on social experiments like this). Here’s a better idea go ahead and waste federal money on the building (why not? We all know the county earned it). Let the building sit for two years empty and watch how these other hotel “projects” work and or, at least, learn from their mistakes before you open and invite more homeless into South Snohomish County.
    Maybe it could be used to transition seniors into better senior housing. That would be a good investment.

  8. In the case of these run down and low priced motels, all the social problems mentioned here are already there and have been for years now; drugs, gangs, prostitution, domestic violence etc. The owners and workers try to control it somewhat but they often can’t really. I know this is true based on volunteer social work I did when I was younger. How is the government buying them and staffing them with at least some competent workers and social services going to make the problems worse? The Courts say you can’t run people out of living in the public spaces unless you have a place for them to go to get the help they need. I agree that the choice should be the “free” public housing first and jail or compulsory institutionalization if refused a second or more times. This is not an “investment” and never will be. It’s a social necessity that will be paid for with tax money or people begging and stealing from the rest of us to meet their perceived needs. Personally, I’m tired of beggars at the intersections and tents and filth all over the place.

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