Within weeks, a transitional housing site in Redmond went from under construction to being pulled entirely. Now, the Redmond City Council is trying to decide who has to pay for all the work already done.
Even a city councilor said they didn’t know about the site, but other councilors and those with the Safe Parking Project, say that’s not true.
“To hear that kind of public denial was frustrating,” said pastor Rick Russell at Mountain View Fellowship church in Redmond.
Russell is the lead of Mountain View Community Development, a group running the Safe Parking program which creates places for people to park their cars and RVs and live in them.
“We just graduated another person from our program to stable housing last week, and we can do a lot more of that. We just need more locations,” said Russell
During last month’s meeting, Councilor Jay Patrick said he was in the dark.
“I heard about this program last year, but I heard about this particular site last Thursday,” Patrick said on August 23.
That statement took the pastor by surprise.
“That was shocking because I had been in the room and talked to him about this before,” Russell said.
It was a statement that the council felt needed to be cleared up in a meeting Tuesday night.
“Is it safe to say that all of the councilors at some point were exposed to the concept of Pershall and safe parking with Mountain View?” asked city councilor Cat Zwicker to the city manager.
The City even provided a timeline of council briefings on the project during the meeting.
“All the previous meetings in June and July we had pastor Rick there talk about Pershall there several times and I think the natural assumption, which it’s bad to assume is that Pershall would have been the site,” said Zwicker.
Patrick says he did not know about choosing Purshall Way as a location and was unaware of construction being done.
“I think we got out of step on how Council and City should work on things,” he said.
Now the problem is, who pays the $16,000 for the work already done on the site? The City or the program?
“Somebody made a mistake and it has to be paid for. It’s tax dollars and the citizens of Redmond shouldn’t be paying for it,” said Patrick
“If we want to take responsibility for our actions, both to the community and to our private partners trying to help our unhoused,” said Zwicker. “We have to look at how that path got started and take some accountability for that.”
Several councilors say they still believe the Safe Parking Program is a success and are still in support.
Dear Mayor & City Council,
As the board of Mountain View Community Development, providing oversight of Safe Parking in Redmond we want to thank you for partnering with us to serve unhoused Redmond citizens. Homelessness a challenging problem, and we are committed to being a part of the solution and are thankful for your financial support.
We are very concerned however, that our Safe Parking program is being asked to pay $16,000 that was used to enhance city property that was later pulled from consideration.
We acted in good faith and in open dialogue with the council and city staff.
We are disappointed that this decision is taking resources directly away from our unhoused neighbors, those with the fewest resources and supports. Please reconsider your position to hold our Safe Parking program responsible for a debt that will not serve the unhoused in any way.
We look forward to working with you in the future to address this critical problem. We know you share our desire for answers to the ongoing problems of the unhoused in Redmond and the surrounding area.
President, Mountain View Community Development Board