Bellevue council approves study for interim homeless shelter

Council agreed to study the expansion of an interim year-round men’s shelter at Lincoln Center.

At their extended study session on July 23, the Bellevue City Council agreed to study the expansion of an interim year-round men’s shelter programming at Lincoln Center on 116th Street Northeast.

Normally the emergency shelter, which is operated by Congregations for the Homeless, is open during the winter, but after the council recently passed the Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) update they wanted to create a more long-lasting interim solution until a permanent men’s shelter project gets underway.

Council member Jennifer Robertson made the proposal to council to direct the staff to bring back a study on the scope, schedule, budget and outreach that would be necessary to upgrade and support the temporary shelter to run year-round.

“The thing I would like to have accomplished, the purpose of this, is that we do not come to May 1, 2019, and have to turn people out again,” she said. “That we find a solution on a temporary basis for a shelter to operate while the permanent shelter is being planned, funded, permitted and built.”

With an estimate of three to four years for a permanent shelter to go through the LUCA process, Robertson is hopeful that people experiencing homelessness won’t have to be turned away during the summer months until a shelter is built.

Every single council member agreed with Robertson and voiced their support and commitment to finding a way to support the homeless population for the next few years.

Mayor John Chelminiak was happy that the council all stated their commitment to this cause, but also reinforced that a permanent shelter must be a goal for within the near future for this interim solution to be able to proceed.

“For me to get behind this, there has got to be realistic support of a shelter that can then be up and operating by May of 2021 or there better darn well be a building under construction by that point, then I can get behind this concept,” he said. “We went through an entire process of studying a land-use code and we ought to follow that land-use code as much as we possibly can.”

The council unanimously voted to approve the motion to direct staff to bring back the study this fall. The council plans to review the study in October, in time to get ready for the 2019-20 budget discussion.