By Meghan Hall
Plans for affordable housing and a permanent men’s shelter are taking root in Bellevue. Congregations for the Homeless (CFH), the sole provider of overnight shelter for adult men on the Eastside, has teamed up with the Inland Group and Horizon Housing to develop 354 affordable units and a 100-bed men’s shelter just north of Interstate-90 and Factoria. Together, the projects have been dubbed the Eastlake Housing Campus.
The project site is located at 13620 SE Eastgate Way and totals more than nine acres. Inland Group will lead the master development process for the site, as well as the submitting for entitlements for the affordable units. The units will most likely be designated as workforce housing and specifically designated for individuals and families with limited incomes. Apartments will range in size from studios to three-bedrooms, and the building will feature community gathering areas such as a fitness center, business center, on-site play areas and a game room. Underground parking is also part of the project plans.
CFH is working to obtain the permits for the shelter and affiliated day center. The three-story, wood-frame building will include a 125-person day center, as well as offices and supportive services for CFH administration. The day center will include bathrooms, a medical room, storage and donation areas, meeting rooms and CFH workspaces. Plans for the main level will incorporate a full kitchen and dining area, and additional offices.
The development team is also in talks with the City to include another 80 units of housing—totaling 11,000 square feet—specifically for homeless single adults. This portion of the project will be spearheaded by Horizon Housing Alliance. Mostly studios and one-bedrooms, those units would be located in a separate building than the CFH shelter and Inland Group’s proposed workforce housing.
The application for the project was filed last year and has since been going through design review and SEPA analysis. CFH applied for its conditional use permit in January of this year and has been working with the City to purchase the project site, which acts as surplus county property.
The City of Bellevue has hosted a men’s shelter at various locations since the winter of 2008, but shifted to a year-round model in 2019. Currently, a 100-bed facility at Lincoln Center is the current location and is expected to operate until the fall of 2022.
The development community, the City of Bellevue and its residents have been working for years to make a permanent men’s shelter a reality. Since 2014, CFH has been working specifically to provide year-round housing. In 2018, the City shifted to a year-round model, it adopted a land-use code amendment for homeless shelters that establishes a means for nonprofit and faith-based organizations to pursue such projects in Bellevue, allowing CFH and others to offer up plans for permanent shelters.
“After nearly five-years of planning, community engagement, and evaluation of potential sites on which to locate a permanent shelter, this is an exciting milestone in fulfilling our mission and meeting the City’s goal of creating a permanent space by 2022,” said David Bowling, CFH Executive Director in a former statement announcing the project. “We thank everyone involved in this process so far and look forward to engaging the community further now that we can turn our attention to the design details. Once completed, we believe our bold vision of a shelter and day center combined with affordable permanent home options will provide a range of affordable homes and life-saving community services that the City of Bellevue will be very proud of.”
As 2021 continues, Inland Group is expected to start site work and CFH will start building construction. Horizon plans on submitting its building permit application, as well. In 2022, CFH will open its doors to the new shelter, while in 2023, both Inland Group and Horizon’s portion of the project will be completed and welcome their first tenants.
According to the City of Bellevue’s website, as the area has urbanized and the local population has grown, homelessness and issues around housing affordability have become more visible. A 2020 point in time count released by Seattle and King county indicates that last year, there were 11,751 individuals experiencing homelessness, 47 percent of whom were unsheltered. The number represents an increase of five percent over 2019, when the County’s point in time count estimated there were about 11,199 people experiencing homelessness. Last year, about 35 percent of those experiencing homelessness sought out emergency shelters, and an additional 18 percent utilized transitional housing or safe havens. About 56 percent identified as men, and will be the key demographic CFH seeks to serve in the coming years, in conjunction with Inland Group and Horizon Housing.
As of this writing, the Inland Group has not yet returned The Registry’s request for comment.