Federal Way Red Lion hotel, 1688 S. 348th St. Courtesy of Google Images

King County receives $8.9M to turn Federal Way Red Lion hotel into emergency homeless shelter

Site to provide 84 units of shelter to people experiencing short- and long-term homelessness.

The Federal Way Red Lion is one of five projects recently granted funds by the Washington State Department of Commerce to address the homelessness crisis, according to the organization.

Through Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition (RCHA) funding, properties in Washington are converted into emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, youth housing, or other shelter types to help people with low incomes, as well as people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, according to the department.

On Sept. 7, the Department of Commerce announced $39.1 million in grants awarded to fund 307 new shelters and housing units in Clark and King counties.

King County, the listed applicant for the Federal Way Red Lion (1688 S. 348th St.), was awarded $8.9 million for provide 84 units of shelter. The county requested just over $8.9 million from the department in August for the project, which is listed to house a general low-income population.

“For many years, a revolving set of four churches provided up to 100 overnight shelter spaces in South King County,” said Sherry Hamilton, communications director for the King County Department of Community and Human Services.

The churches operated as congregate shelters, meaning people who stayed the night had to exit the facilities every morning, she said. During the pandemic, these types of shelters closed and the county worked with Catholic Community Services to consolidate the four shelters into one temporary site at the Sleep Inn in SeaTac.

“King County, Federal Way, and other partners have been working to identify a permanent location for this consolidated shelter,” she said. “The former Red Lion in Federal Way will serve this purpose.”

The Red Lion hotel has a total redevelopment cost of over $11 million, according to the department of commerce. King County finalized their purchase of the hotel on Sept. 2.

Though the county plans to open a Health Through Housing permanent housing program in January, emergency shelter is necessary to assist those experiencing short- or long-term homelessness, Hamilton said.

“Emergency shelter can also serve a broader spectrum of individuals experiencing homelessness in South King County,” she said. “Since consolidating at the Sleep Inn, the program has shifted to an enhanced shelter model, offering more robust on-site services, including housing navigation.”

The shelter opening the Red Lion site will have 24/7 staffing, and active substance use is not permitted in any King County shelters, she said.

Other awardees include the City of Vancouver Housing Authority receiving $5.1 million for 62 shelter units at Bertha’s Place in Clark County.

The three remaining funds were awarded to the Low Income Housing Institute to fund three projects in King County: Providing $10.89 million to build 69 permanent housing units at the 225 Harvard Apartments; $8.39 million for 58 housing units at the Boylston Apartments; and $5.76 million for 34 housing units at the 506 10th Apartments.

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