For first Bellevue men's shelter, debate over location
Bellevue officials could vote Monday night on whether to open a homeless shelter in the Eastgate neighborhood, despite concerns from residents.
Bellevue's City Council already approved opening a permanent men's shelter in the Eastgate Public Health Center. That vote came with a promise to neighbors, though, that the city would still identify and study alternate locations. One of those sites is a few blocks from Bellevue City Hall, while the other alternate is near the Interstate 405/State Route 520 interchange.
The city revealed a comparison chart of the three sites late last week.
Bellevue currently operates seasonal homeless shelters, but not a permanent shelter available to single men. Women and children can find shelter in privately run facilities. King County Councilmember and former Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci has long advocated for the eastside to have a permanent men's shelter.
Balducci: "I would prefer that they pick a site that allows them to move forward as quickly as possible. And that has the best chance of providing the best service that we possibly can. To me that looks like the Eastgate site, but if they can make it work in another site and go just as quickly and provide good wraparound services, then that's fine."
The Bellevue City Council has a few options Monday night. Those are: move forward with an Eastgate men's shelter, consider a different site more seriously, or start the process over.
Some residents of housing developments near Eastgate have complained that a permanent shelter could bring more crime to their neighborhood. More than 3,000 people have signed an online petition by local resident Sid Golestane. The petition claims an Eastgate shelter would increase crime and lower nearby property values. The shelter would be low-barrier, meaning men are not turned away if they struggle with addiction and mental health problems or have a criminal record.
The city says the shelter, as proposed, would have a strict code of conduct. The facility would also include a day center and up to 60 affordable housing units.