- About Us
Kirkland Council candidates weigh in on affordable housing, homelessness on Eastside
A new levy to fund affordable housing and using city-owned homes for homeless families were just two ideas that Kirkland Council candidates proposed in a recent questionnaire addressing homelessness and affordable housing.
To help educate voters on candidates’ views toward housing and homelessness, the Eastside Human Services Forum conducted an electronic candidates’ forum.
Candidates running in contested races in east King County cities - including Kirkland, King County Council (Eastside districts) and for the King County Executive position were invited to answer a three-item questionnaire.
Kirkland City Council candidates who answered the questionnaire include Jay Arnold, who is running for Position 1, and incumbent Doreen Marchione, the city’s deputy mayor who is running for Position 7.
Martin Morgan, who is running against Arnold, and Bill Henkens, who is challenging Marchione, did not provide online responses in time to participate in the questionnaire.
The first question asked candidates what they would do specifically in an elected official role to protect and strengthen human services for Eastside residents.
Arnold said as a councilman, he could strengthen human services by supporting and protecting direct human services and affordable housing funding in the city’s budget, adopting and strengthening policies that build and support affordable housing within Kirkland and ensuring the city builds partnerships that support human services.
He noted Kirkland budgets about $4.9 million for human services, including support for A Regional Coalition for Housing and $1.3 million in funding directed by the city’s Human Services Commission.
“Future increases in such funding are going to be incremental, so the biggest impact is going to be city policies that support and encourage affordable housing,” Arnold said, adding that Kirkland could partner with local businesses, the faith community and nonprofit and service agencies. “For example, discussions to build a Kirkland Community Foundation may be a vehicle to broaden participation and giving within our community, and an opportunity to coordinate and leverage efforts between organizations.”
Marchione said she would protect and strengthen human services by continuing the financial support for Eastside agencies, and she would advocate for additional financial support.
“I also support the Eastside Human Services Forum as a way for cities and agencies to work together to solve problems,” she added.
Candidates were also asked what actions they would take to increase affordable housing in east King County.
Arnold said as Kirkland works on updating its Comprehensive Plan for Kirkland 2035, the city should pursue additional density and affordable housing in the Totem Lake neighborhood.
The city should also standardize regulations for standardizing cottage housing and accessory dwelling unit regulations across all of the city’s neighborhoods, and encourage compact, vibrant, mixed-use developments in neighborhood business centers, Arnold added.
He said the city should also pursue innovative policies to help spur affordable housing.
“On the Planning Commission, I have advocated for innovative housing programs like residential suites (smaller-scale apartments with shared kitchens, sometimes referred to as ‘aPodments’ in Seattle), which were adopted and start construction later this year, recommended affordable housing incentives and requirements in various zones, and supported cottage housing and accessory dwelling units in single family neighborhoods,” Arnold said.
Marchione said she would work to develop an additional transit-oriented development in Totem Lake. She would also look at using city-owned homes for homeless families or single adults and continue the city’s support for A Regional Coalition for Housing.
“We need to seriously look at a levy for affordable housing,” Marchione added.
Candidates were also asked what role homeless shelters should play in the continuum of housing on the Eastside.
Arnold said shelters play an important role and are a “stopgap measure” for people on the way to finding an affordable housing solution and needed services.
Homeless shelters are needed as long as we do not have adequate facilities to house every homeless person,” Marchione said. “As a region, we need to work together to fund the shelters. Hopefully the Rapid Rehousing model will free up units that are now used for transitional housing or emergency shelter.”
The lack of affordable housing and rise in the number of families seeking transitional housing and emergency shelter are priority issues for east King County, according to the Eastside Human Services Forum.
Nearly 1000 men, women, youth and children with a prior Eastside address were served in local shelter or transitional housing programs last year.
Approximately 54,000 east King County households (34 percent) pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing and nearly 22,000 households (14 percent) pay more than half their incomes for housing, according to A Regional Coalition for Housing.
To read the candidates’ entire responses, visit www.eastsideforum.org/advocate/cities-king-county.