Has the La Quinta Inn been purchased for a Health Through Housing facility?
King County announced on March 3, 2022, that it purchased La Quinta Inn for a permanent supportive housing site in Kirkland.
When did the City of Kirkland learn about King County’s consideration of La Quinta Inn for permanent supportive housing?
The City Council adopted the 2021-2022 City Work Program as part of the City’s biennial budget process. Included in the Work Program is an action to “[i]nitiate a supportive housing project in Kirkland.” By its inclusion in the City Work Program, supportive housing becomes a priority project of the City of Kirkland for the 2021-2022 biennium.
In February 2021, King County adopted Ordinance 19236, which states that the County needs to consult with “any city in which the county proposes a faculty to be located.”
On April 29, 2021, representatives from King County consulted with the City Council during an executive session about potential hotel sites, including La Quinta Inn. At the request of the County to protect the integrity of any potential real estate transaction, the City awaited the County’s identification, investigation, and negotiation of a preferred site.
On May 5, 2021, as part of the regular City Council meeting, the City Manager discussed the potential purchase of La Quinta Inn by King County, along with three other potential sites, during the City Manager Reports portion of the agenda.
In November of 2021, King County informed Kirkland that the La Quinta Inn was the likely preferred Kirkland site for the Health Through Housing program. But the County also notified the City that the national La Quinta chain was being considered for purchase and that it would likely be the end of the year or early 2022 before the County would know if a purchase of La Quinta was feasible.
On December 7, 2021, the King County Council approved Ordinance 19366, adopting the Initial Health through Housing Implementation Plan. The Initial Health through Housing Implementation Plan states that “King County and the City hold at least one public meeting in which members of the public may offer input and feedback to consider. The public meeting must be timed to occur after the County has negotiated an agreement and at a point in the process that the public meeting does not risk an increase of price. The purpose of the meeting will be to inform a joint decision by City and County staff on whether to proceed or how to proceed.”
On January 10, 2022, King County informed the City that the County had entered a preliminary purchase and sale agreement but that additional due diligence is needed on the property before the County finalizes the purchase and publicly announces about the site.
On January 18, 2022, the City Council authorized a letter of support for King County’s purchase of a hotel in Kirkland for permanent supportive housing. As the County had not yet finished the due diligence process, the letter of support did not identify La Quinta as the site under consideration by the County.
On February 1, 2022, the City Manager issued a statement in response to specific questions about whether La Quinta Inn is being considered by the County. Alongside the letter, the City also published an informational website about the project to describe Kirkland’s commitment to permanent supportive housing and to provide answers to frequently asked questions.
During their meeting on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, the Kirkland City Council approved Resolution 5522, which sets terms and conditions necessary to maintain City support of La Quinta Inn as a King County Health Through Housing site. R-5522 was drafted based on community input and requirements by the City Council.
On March 3, 2022, King County announced the purchase of La Quinta Inn for permanent supportive housing in Kirkland.
What does state law and King County ordinance define as Kirkland’s role in permanent supportive housing through King County’s HTH initiative?
During the 2021 legislative session, a new law (House Bill 1220) was passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Inslee which preempts the City’s authority to prohibit transitional housing or permanent supportive housing in any zones where residential dwelling units or hotels are allowed.
King County Ordinance 19236 defines the County’s process to consult with cities as part of the siting process for permanent supportive housing. This consultation is further defined in the HTH Implementation Plan, which directs a public meeting to occur “after the County has negotiated an agreement and at a point in the process that the public meeting does not risk an increase of price.”
Was Kirkland consulted about the County’s decision to consider La Quinta Inn as a permanent supportive housing site?
Yes. Please see above for additional information about the County’s consultation with the City related to permanent supportive housing sites in Kirkland. It is the City’s understanding that La Quinta Inn was the only site in Kirkland that met the County’s criteria. To protect the integrity of any potential real estate transaction, the City awaited the County’s investigation and negotiation of a preferred site before publishing any information about the initiative.
What criteria did King County use to identify La Quinta Inn as a potential permanent supportive housing site?
The County provided the following criteria used in its consideration of La Quinta Inn:
- Building specifics: Building costs, design, doors, stairwells, number of units (50-150), and date constructed or rehabbed.
- Willing seller: King County only pursues buildings with a willing seller.
- Geographic Distribution: King County identifies hotels that meet the building criteria and also takes into account geographic distribution of sites. Right now, King County owns three building in South King, five in Seattle, and one on the Eastside. King County is invested in expanding permanent supportive housing, and currently, the Redmond location is the only permanent supportive housing on the Eastside in a County that has more people than 15 states combined.
- Need: King County analyzes what amenities are nearby to determine whether residents will be able to meet their basic needs. Access such as transit, stores, services, and other indicators of opportunity are considered. The location of this building on major transit lines provides this level of connection.
What process did the County undertake in siting permanent supportive housing at the former La Quinta Inn?
The City requested the County provide information about the process guiding the County's decision to site permanent supportive housing at the La Quinta Inn, specifically whether the County satisfied the siting process described in the Health through Housing Implementation Plan. The County provided the following response:
Staff from the City of Kirkland have inquired whether King County has satisfied the Health through Housing Implementation Plan siting process. King County has satisfied the Implementation Plan’s process. The purpose of this memorandum is to summarize King County’s satisfaction of the Implementation Plan-required process.
King County Ordinance 19366 adopted the Health through Housing Implementation Plan. The Implementation Plan took effect on January 1, 2022. The Implementation Plan specifies a property siting process for Health through Housing sites whose purchase is governed by the plan.
The process that culminated in King County’s acquisition of the former Kirkland La Quinta Inn began in 2021, prior to the enactment of the Implementation Plan. The purchase closed on March 3, 2022, after the effective date of the Implementation Plan. King County’s purchase of the Kirkland Health through Housing site is only the initial phase of a long-term commitment to community engagement and partnership with the City of Kirkland. The purpose of forthcoming community engagement that will occur over the course of 2022 will be to inform important upcoming decisions such as selection of an operator for the Kirkland Health through Housing Site, selection of finalized performance measures for the Health through Housing Site, and finalization of a Good Neighbor Agreement to guide site operations.
Prior to the enactment of the Implementation Plan, King County and the City of Kirkland had already initiated a potential HtH partnership. The City of Kirkland has thoroughly documented the timing on which King County and the City of Kirkland initiated a potential Health through Housing partnership, consulted on site requirements and City participants, and identified potential HtH properties. Later in 2021, King County determined that the former La Quinta Inn was the sole feasible HtH site in Kirkland. It is important to note that in addition to a hotel needing to satisfy King County’s requirements, any feasible Health through Housing site requires an owner who is willing to sell their property. The Health through Housing program does not compel hotel owners to sell their properties.
The City of Kirkland has publicly affirmed King County’s acquisition of the former La Quinta Inn, including the March 1st passage of Resolution 5522, and public statements by the Mayor and City Manager. Kirkland has documented these expressions of support on its webpage, and King County is grateful for the City’s leadership and partnership.
King County’s Implementation Plan requires a statement of Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) impact. King County provided its statement of Equity and Social Justice Impact on March 2, 2022.
King County’s Implementation Plan, adopted by ordinance, requires a public meeting prior to completing purchase of a Health through Housing site, but the plan also recognizes that responsible stewardship of public funds also requires the public meeting to occur “after the County has negotiated an agreement and at a point in the process that the public meeting does not risk an increase in price.” Adhering to this ordinance-adopted requirement required King County to first sign an enforceable Purchase and Sale agreement with the seller of the hotel before the required public meeting. Once King County had secured a sale price and had completed sufficient diligence to identify how the condition of the building might require additional costs to make it suitable for use such that there was not substantial risk escalation of price, King County and the City of Kirkland began providing public information, receiving public feedback, and attending meetings. Cumulatively, King County and City staff received hours of public comment and feedback in meetings attended by members of the public. Feedback from outreach, letters, emails, and meetings specifically included:
- On February 2, 2022, King County staff began emailing initial outreach about the possible building purchase to nearby businesses. King County also issued a press release publicly announcing partnership with the City of Kirkland and the possible purchase of the building.
- On February 9, 2022, King County and City Leaders attended a meeting hosted by Eastside Preparatory School at which members of the school’s community received information and provided feedback on the potential purchase. The community meeting included more than 200 digital attendees. School administrator comments indicated that both school community members and members of the broader public were in attendance while prioritizing feedback and questions from members of the public who were affiliated with the school.
- On February 10, 2022 King County staff called a list of stakeholders identified by the City of Kirkland to provide information and receive any immediate feedback on the potential purchase. King County staff spoke with stakeholders who answered calls or left voicemails for those who did not.
- Over the course of February, King County Executive, Council, and Department staff received dozens of letters and emails from community members who provided additional feedback about the potential purchase.
- On February 28, 2022 King County and City of Kirkland staff attended a noticed, regular meeting of the Houghton Community Council, the community in which the Kirkland Health through Housing site is situated. In addition to passing a resolution regarding the Health through Housing program at their public meeting on February 28th, the public meeting included a presentation of information by King County(PDF, 1MB) and City staff, questions and answers between members of the Community Council and the County and City staff, and public comment by members of the public who attended the meeting to provide feedback on the potential purchase. The Houghton Community Council’s public meeting was attended by more than 100 members of the public.
The list above does not include substantial community input that King County understands went directly to the City of Kirkland.
Having satisfied the requirements of Health through Housing Implementation Plan’s siting process and having completed an assessment of the building’s suitability, King County closed on the purchase of the former La Quinta Inn on March 2, 2022. King County looks forward to an ongoing and robust community engagement process to inform important upcoming decision about the site’s operations.
What is the City’s role in HTH?
The City views supportive housing as one step in a “Continuum of Care” for people experiencing homelessness. It is a key tactic in helping to end homelessness in Kirkland and across the County, as it is one of the most cost-effective ways to permanently house people experiencing chronic homelessness. Supportive housing serves a different need along the continuum of care than shelters provide, and the County’s purchase of a hotel in Kirkland for supportive housing fills a gap in Kirkland’s services.
As set forth in City of Kirkland Resolution R-5522, Kirkland’s role will include ensuring that our community has a voice in issues related to the ongoing operations of the site, including assurances of community safety, performance review and program efficacy, and indicators of the site operator and residents being good neighbors. The City will ensure this location is an outstanding neighbor to the surrounding businesses and residents. The City will require a robust community engagement process to ensure our community has a voice in issues related to the ongoing operations of the site. This includes the identification of the site operator and the development of the code of conduct for residents.
In addition, the City will participate in the evaluation and selection of the operation and service providers and referral of residents through our Human Services Division. The City will also process any needed permits and provide on-going public safety support, just as the City does throughout Kirkland.
Does the City support this project?
The City strongly supports King County’s purchase of a hotel in Kirkland for permanent supportive housing as part of the County’s Health Through Housing Initiative with the appropriate operating conditions and community engagement, as it aligns with Kirkland’s value to help those experiencing homelessness in our city and region. Supportive permanent housing serves a very different need along the continuum of care than shelters – like case management and behavioral health support – and therefore is a critical step in helping to rebuild lives. The County’s purchase of a hotel in Kirkland for supportive housing fills a gap in Kirkland’s services.
Additionally, the Health Through Housing Initiative aligns with Kirkland’s policies and priorities. Briefly, the City’s Work Plan for 2021-2022 includes “initiate a supportive housing project in Kirkland” among other housing-related initiatives. The City was also a coalition leader in the construction of Helen’s Place, the $10 million public-private partnership funded by the State of Washington, King County, the City, A Regional Coalition for Housing, foundations, corporations, faith communities, civic groups, and individuals, which provides 24/7 shelter housing for families and women experiencing homelessness. Finally, the City continues to invest significant funding every budget cycle to housing and human service agencies.
Will the City be involved in choosing and monitoring an operator for the facility?
Yes. As defined in City of Kirkland Resolution R-5522, the City will participate in the evaluation and selection of the facility operators. Community feedback will help inform the City’s evaluation approach of potential operators.
How will the City and County ensure safety for the community?
There is a screening and referral process for permanent supportive housing. It is important to note that the individuals that would be moving into this housing site are all enrolled in the Homeless Management Information System. The City’s understanding is that no one who “walks up” would get assigned a room – this would no longer be a hotel, and there would be no walk-ins. The City will provide the same public safety response to this neighborhood, building, and residents as it provides to the entire community. People are always encouraged to call 911 or the non-emergency public safety number at 425-577-5656 should they see something unsafe.
As defined in City of Kirkland Resolution R-5522, the City will participate in the evaluation and selection of the facility operators and the screening process for potential tenants.
Are drugs and alcohol allowed at the HTH facility?
La Quinta will be providing homes. Like other private residences in our community, substance use that is legal in anyone’s home would be legal here. However, the 24/7 onsite agency staff will directly engage anyone exhibiting problem behaviors due to substance use and offer treatment services. Unlawful activities would not be permitted. Anyone who is unable to abide by the code of conduct and continuously disrupts housing for the other residents would be at risk of expulsion. This will not be a safe injection site.
Does Kirkland require a 1,000 foot school buffer for facilities that serve those experiencing homelessness, such as the Kirkland Women and Family Shelter or permanent supportive housing?
No. The Kirkland Zoning Code does not require a 1,000 foot buffer between schools or residences for emergency shelter or permanent supportive housing. The Kirkland Zoning Code treats permanent supportive housing exactly the same as stacked residential uses (e.g., apartments or condominiums), with no special regulations. No 1,000-foot buffer around schools exists in the Zoning Code for shelters, supportive housing, or any other type of residential use.
How is Health Through Housing funded?
From the King County HTH FAQ:
Health Through Housing is funded through a dedicated sales tax implemented countywide1. The State Legislature passed House Bill 1590 in 2020, which allowed jurisdictions to enact a 0.1% sales tax to finance construction of affordable housing and behavioral health facilities and operations or services at affordable housing. In 2020, the King County Executive proposed, and the County Council approved this dedicated sales tax. In 2021, the State Legislature passed House Bill 1070, which clarified acquisition of property as an eligible use of these funds.
1Bellevue, Covington, Issaquah, Kent, Maple Valley, North Bend, Renton, and Snoqualmie chose to implement the sales tax independently. Therefore, sales tax collected from this revenue source in those cities is not part of the HTH effort.
What data or research is available regarding individuals experiencing homelessness and criminal behavior?
The Third Door Coalition - a coalition of Seattle-based researchers, business leaders, and service providers - has compiled an FAQ based on their research related to individuals experiencing homelessness and criminal behavior.