Mayor's Update - Investing In Our Community

Mayor's Update - March 19, 2021
Posted on 03/19/2021
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Friday, March 19, 2021

Photo of the cover of the Mayor's Update for March 19, 2021

Investing In Our Community

It is hard to believe that it’s been over a year since our state received notification of the COVID-19 exposure at Kirkland's Lifecare Center. Twelve months later, we’ve experienced an unprecedented pandemic and witnessed a lifetime of events that have changed our community forever.

City staff and members of our community have worked tirelessly to serve the Renton community. I am so grateful for all of you and your dedication to serve and help. Your ability to pivot and adapt has allowed us to prevail during the most challenging times. As a city, we focused on making sure we kept our services going, but we also paid special attention to those in need.

I have given periodic updates on our efforts for housing, shelter, human services, and critical resources in weekly newsletters. I want to bring that information together in one publication so you can see the full impact of what your Renton community has accomplished. You can find more details at rentonwa.gov/community.

 

Shelters and Support

Photo of Renton Community Church

Renton Community Church (formerly Harambee Church) The city partnered with Renton Community Church (formerly Harambee Church) on emergency shelter operations and feeding programs.

Center of Hope The city partnered with Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH) on this emergency shelter project. Until the pandemic, the shelter was in the basement of City Hall and operated as a day shelter. During the pandemic, the Center of Hope moved to the Highlands Neighborhood Center on a 24/7 basis to allow for better social distancing. The city has been a direct financial contributor to REACH and the shelter: $120,000 in 2020 and $120,000 in 2021.

Homelessness Resource Events The city partnered with Village of Hope (a group of local churches), King County Library System, Wellsprings, and other agencies to provide a location for the homeless or near homeless to access services. Four events were held before COVID. Over 120 individuals received services, including flu shots, behavioral health, housing assistance, legal counseling, sheltering options and more. Attendees also received free backpacks and socks. When COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we will provide this service again.

 

Funding

Rendering of Sunset Gardens

HB 1590 and Sunset Gardens One of the most critical decisions made this year was to take action to fund affordable housing, homelessness and mental health needs through a new 0.1 percent sales tax. The tax took effect on Jan. 1, 2021, will provide close to $3 million per year to build permanent supportive housing projects. An "Early Action Plan," coordinated by the Mayor's Office, prioritizes the projects. One of those projects is Renton Housing Authority's Sunset Gardens project (above), which will house homeless and chronically homeless residents, veterans, and others. A minimum of $350,000 from first-year HB 1590 funding will go towards health professionals and navigators to assist those in need of treatment and services.

We’re also using funding from SHB 1406 in conjunction with the South King Housing and Homeless Partnership to help fund regional housing and homelessness issues.

Cares Act We used $650,000 in COVID-19 relief from the CARES Act to provide food assistance and emergency rental assistance. It also helped us continue our free meal program for our seniors. In 2020, city staff and partners served just short of 30,000 meals to almost 700 seniors. In comparison, the Renton Senior Activity Center served 11,180 meals in 2019.

Human Needs Funding In 2021, we’ve allocated $562,000 in human needs funding to 51 programs to address housing and homeless services, economic opportunity, domestic violence/sexual assault prevention, health and wellness.

Community Development Block Grants These federal grants fund development activities that provide affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development. The city has dedicated almost $200,000 from 2018-2020 to assist low income residents safely remain safe in their homes. We’re estimating another $60,000 in assistance in 2021.

Utility Help The city also subsidized reduced utility rates for 245 seniors/disabled low income residents in the amount of $79,263 in 2020. This assistance allowed residents to remain in their homes.

 

Neighborhood Revitalization

Drawing of Sunset Neighborhood Project

(click for larger version)

Sunset Transformation Plan Affordable housing is just one component of the modern neighborhood. Resident mobility is a primary criterion. That means shopping, amenities and public transportation must be nearby. That’s what our Sunset Transformation Plan brings to the Sunset Neighborhood.

The plan has taken years to develop and is considered a blueprint for a true “walkable neighborhood” by neighboring cities. The plan consists of several inner-connected projects offering affordable housing, shopping, parks, trails and public transportation options, all within walking distance.

 

Photo of Sunset Court apartments

Sunset Court offers 50 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with ample green space for families. Using Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funding, several units are reserved for households earning less than 50% or 60% of the median income. The project was completed in 2019.

 

Rendering of Willowcrest Townhome

Willowcrest Townhomes results from a combined effort by Homestead Community Land Trust, Renton Housing Authority, and the city. It is the first deep-green energy efficient multi-unit homeownership project in King County designed for low- and moderate-income households. Its 12 three- and four-bedroom units will be affordable to those who make between 60 and 80% of the area median income.

 

Rendering of Solera

Solera is the largest project planned for Sunset. It has 101 townhomes and 551 apartments, with 275 apartments under rent limitations to provide workforce housing. There will also be commercial space, childcare, a basketball court and an indoor swimming pool. Construction is scheduled to start this fall.

 

Serving The Underserved

Rendering of Family First Community Center

Family First Community Center Since its annexation, the Cascade/Benson Hill area has needed a gathering place for both adults and children. We plan to provide that through the Family First Community Center. This 26,000-square foot, $15 million project will provide health, fitness and classes to the community. But most importantly, it will be a facility the community can call their own.

 

Photo of the front desk

Sunset Neighborhood Center The Sunset Neighborhood Center opened in fall 2020 and brings a much-need multi-service center to Sunset. With a combined effort of the city, Renton Housing Authority, Neighborhood House, and other community agencies, residents can receive medical care, behavioral health care, family planning, immunizations and much more from HealthPoint.

 

Downtown

Photo of June Leonard Place in Renton

June Leonard Place Opened in 2019, June Leonard Place (JLP) provides 48 units for lower-wage earners and homeless households, including families with children and homeless veterans. JLP is the result of our partnership with the Low-Income Housing Institute and is close to public transportation, parks, schools, and shopping.

 

More Information

I hope this information has been helpful to you. I invite any of you to contact me with questions or concerns if you have them.

 

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