Everett Mayor Apologizes To City Council For Low Barrier Housing Communication

October 11, 2017

Everett Government

barrier housing

A look at the west side of the City of Everett project facing Evergreen Way

Hope Works

An artist’s conception of Hope Works Phase 2 on Broadway in Everett.

Tonight Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson apologized to the Everett City Council for not communicating the complexity of financing multiple low barrier housing projects back in March and April and surprising them with budget requests in August.

“I apologize for not explaining at the time,” said Stephanson. “It was not our intention to keep anyone in the dark.”

Since the beginning of the year both the City of Everett low barrier housing project on Berkshire and the HopeWorks Station II project on Broadway were competing for the same pot of money from State Housing Funds. As things turned out the HopeWorks Station II project was fully funded leaving the City of Everett project short and likely to be delayed by a year.

The City sat down with Hopeworks and asked if there was a way the two projects could work together on funding plans to make sure both were able to be completed as originally scheduled. HopeWorks Station II changed their project, lowered the number of units and rearranged financing sources. This allowed more State funds to be allocated to the City project. In turn the City worked on finding capital funds for the HopeWorks Station. $400,000.00 was found in the 2017 and 2018 budget for services earmarked at the City project. That money was in as a placeholder to show investors Everett’s commitment to the project and wouldn’t actually be needed until the facility opened in 2019.

When that allocation came before the City Council in August budget chair Scott Murphy called time out and asked for a better explanation of low barrier housing costs and council member Brenda Stonecipher also asked a series of questions. City staff provided answers during briefings and tonight the question of the $400,000.00 came up for approval. During comment period two citizens spoke out against the allocation with one saying there was not enough public information and another calling the Mayor a liar. In the end the council voted unanimously to approve giving the money to HopeWorks Station II.

In a strange turn of events the City of Everett project is fully funded and moving forward but the HopeWorks Station project is still about nine percent short. That’s due to funding tied up in the State capital budget which still has not been approved. Fred Safstrom, CEO of Housing Hope told MyEverettNews.com that the Governor is behind the project as are both the State House and Senate and he’s confident the money will be there once the budget is settled in the next legislative session.

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