The Bellevue Downtown Association’s panel spoke about homelessness in the city. From left: David Bowling, Judy Buckmaster, Angela Murray, Steve Mylett, and Lauren Thomas. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

The Bellevue Downtown Association’s panel spoke about homelessness in the city. From left: David Bowling, Judy Buckmaster, Angela Murray, Steve Mylett, and Lauren Thomas. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Bellevue Downtown Association hosts panel on homelessness in Bellevue

Five experts on homelessness in Bellevue discussed the issue at a panel on Dec. 11.

At its Dec. 11 breakfast, the Bellevue Downtown Association hosted a discussion on homelessness in the city with five panelists working with the homeless populations in the area.

A discussion on the data, causes and solutions to homelessness was held with Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas, Bellevue Police Chief Steven Mylett, The Sophia Way executive director Angela Murray, Bellevue School District’s executive director of community development Judy Buckmaster, and Congregations for the Homeless (CFH) executive director David Bowling. The panel was moderated by Bellevue LifeSpring executive director Jennifer Fischer.

The discussion centered around the data the organizations have collected through their years of serving the community. Hopelink’s Lauren Thomas said the most significant factor leading to homelessness in King County was job loss or eviction. In a 2017 community needs assessment, the top reason, at 30 percent, respondents became homeless was job loss. Thomas also said 83 percent of respondents were living in King County when they became homeless.

Chief Mylett explained some of the myths and acts about homelessness. One of those myths was that the police only interact with a homeless person when they are about to enforce the law — Mylett said that is false and that officers actively engage the homeless population of Bellevue to help direct them toward services.

Other myths included the rate of crime among homeless populations. Mylett said the homeless population does not have a propensity to commit crimes, and that a vast majority of the people are law abiding citizens. The majority of arrests, he said, are of people who are housed.

Mylett also discussed panhandlers and said the department has had cases in the past where someone who was not actually homeless had come to Bellevue to panhandle. He said a better investment of citizens’ money would be donating to nonprofits that provide services to help the homeless population, like the organizations his fellow panelists represent.

Buckmaster talked about the school district’s role as a partner to the various human service organizations, and said the support and resources they provide help create a better learning experience for the students. If students don’t have a home to go back to, it maked education more difficult, she said. That’s why it is vital that the district work with agencies to help find solutions.

Some of the pathways to better service are only just a few years away. David Bowling talked about CFH not being able to keep their shelter open year round in 2018 and hoped that would be possible in 2019. Their goal is to have a temporary, year-round shelter before the permanent men’s homeless shelter development project is complete in 2022. Bowling said CFH is working on a site assessment for the building, and the orgnaization is planning to announce the location they have chosen before the end of 2018.

Angela Murray also talked about The Sophia Way’s upcoming development project for a new shelter for women and families. In partnership with Catholic Community Services, the development will officially break ground on May 1, 2019. The new shelter will run 24 hours, seven days a week, all year long. The first floor will be run by Catholic Community Services and the second floor will house The Sophia Way. That project is expected to be complete in 2020.

For more on the Bellevue Downtown Association, visit www.bellevuedowntown.com.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Lauren Thomas talks about the data on homelessness collected by Hopelink. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo.

Lauren Thomas talks about the data on homelessness collected by Hopelink. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo.

Judy Buckmaster explains why having a home is so important to the quality of education for students. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Judy Buckmaster explains why having a home is so important to the quality of education for students. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

More in News

NW Carpenters Union members strike in front of downtown Bellevue construction site (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Carpenters union strike interupts some prominent Eastside construction projects

Union representative says members are prepared to strike “as long as it takes.”

Map of proposed landfill expansion sites (screenshot from King County website)
Waste management expert knocks county’s plan to expand landfill

The waste management advocate said the decision to expand seems pre-determined despite assessment.

Participants in fundraiser previous event (courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter)
Walk To End Alzheimer’s returns to Eastside on Sept. 25

Alzheimer’s Association moves forward with plans for an in-person event.

file photo
State employees including first responders sue state over vaccine mandate

The lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 90 plaintiffs claims Inslee’s order is unconstitutional.

Pixabay photo
Union carpenters to go on strike, expected to impact Eastside Microsoft projects

Members authorized strike after rejecting AGC offer for the fourth time.

file photo
The state’s hospitals face “unprecedented collapse” amid COVID uptick warn healthcare unions

Union spokeperson says understaffing was a problem even before the pandemic.

pizza from Tom Douglas’ Serious Pie (courtesy of Serious Pie)
Eastside to get its first Serious Pie restaurant location

Serious Pie is owned by Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas.

Axton Burton stands proudly in front of the greenhouse he made in his parent’s yard in Duvall, Wash. (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
How to make a greenhouse with 4,500 glass jars

How a Redmond resident spent nearly two years building a greenhouse out of salvaged materials.

Most Read