County invests $500K to assist, temporarily house Afghan refugees

Refugees will stay at former Extended Stay American hotel in Federal Way.

King County is investing $500,000 to assist and temporarily house Afghan refugees in the area, including in Federal Way.

The investments are made in partnership with local cities and resource organizations to provide language services, translators, and temporary housing at the former Extended Stay America hotel in Federal Way.

The county purchased the hotel in July for $23.3 million for the incoming Health Through Housing program, aimed at providing housing and resources for those experiencing chronic homelessness.

It will be repurposed in the short-term for arriving Afghan refugees, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The county does not have a target move-in date, but it could be as soon as this week, said Chase Gallagher, spokesperson for the King County Executive’s Office.

“King County has pledged to work with local, state, and federal partners and the Afghan-American community to enable Afghans looking for refuge to resettle in the county and begin life in America,” according to the county.

The previous move-in date was tentatively set for Tuesday, Sept. 14, according to an email from Brendan McCluskey, director of King County Emergency Management to Federal Way city officials. Each person or family is expected to stay in Federal Way between three to five weeks, the Mirror previously reported.

The investments include partnering with World Relief, the International Rescue Committee, and other local resettlement agencies to make available temporary housing for individuals and families while they await placement in permanent housing. The county will also provide staffing support.

“We are excited about this new partnership with King County to temporarily house Afghan refugees in safe and secure housing,” said Kathleen Morris, deputy director of the International Rescue Committee based in SeaTac. “Welcoming refugees is an imperative and a long standing practice here in the Puget Sound Region, and we are looking forward to collaborating with the county to ensure that these new residents have what they need to join the community and participate in the life of this place.”

The county will utilize $250,000 from the Office of Equity and Social Justice’s language access program to provide language supports such as translation, interpretation, and more.

Another $250,000 from the Department of Community and Human Services will be used to provide one-time grants to community-based organizations who are supporting Afghan resettlement efforts.

“As we take on the important work of getting our new neighbors settled in and ready to start their lives in the Pacific Northwest, the incredible support of the county with this innovative private/public partnership will provide much-needed capacity to get folks into housing and ready to navigate their new communities,” said Chitra Hanstad, executive director of World Relief based in Kent.

The King County-owned hotel is located at 400 S. 320th St. in Federal Way.