‘Passionate’ meeting, but Delridge homeless-housing project will roll on

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Facing a self-described “passionate” crowd in North Delridge tonight, Downtown Emergency Service Center executive director Bill Hobson did not deny Delridge Neighborhoods District Council chair Mat McBride‘s assessment of the meeting’s intent:

“In one of your early comments, you said you came here to have a discussion, but it’s less of a discussion and more of an explanation,” observed McBride – an explanation from Hobson that if funding comes through, DESC intends to build a 75-apartment complex for mentally ill homeless people in North Delridge, whether area residents like it or not.

McBride’s assessment, stark as it was, came as the standing-room-only meeting, more than 50 packed into the Delridge Library‘s small public-gathering room, started to calm from a crescendo of shouting and accusations – more between participants of opposing views, than directed at the DESC leader, though Hobson too had to raise his voice at more than one point to get a word in edgewise.

He had begun with an explanation of his agency, and then of the project, while also saying, “This doesn’t have to be the last public meeting” about it. From sheltering, DESC moved into the housing business starting in 1995. He briefly touched on what is described on the DESC website as a “Housing First” philosophy – rather than expecting their clients to get their lives in order before becoming eligible for housing, they are put into housing first – then offered services to deal with their challenges, which might include mental illness and/or substance abuse.

View DESC Sites in a larger map

The agency operates eight projects (unofficially Google-mapped above by McBride) and hopes to break ground soon on a ninth at 105th and Aurora in North Seattle; Delridge would be its tenth. DESC already had initiated the purchase of lots in the 5400 block of Delridge before going public with news of its plans, mainly by contacting representatives of community groups including the North Delridge Neighborhood Council; we covered the June 13th meeting of NDNC, and that’s where we heard about it for the first time, including information from chair Karrie Kohlhaas in our meeting report, then contacting DESC the next day for an in-depth followup. Here’s more of what Hobson said tonight about the project:

In our interview with him two weeks ago, Hobson had told WSB that DESC thought it might be able to help Delridge in its process of “stabilizing.” Tonight’s first question asked, how could this possibly help?

Hobson suggested that DESC had clout on which it could draw, including “fairly good political connections in downtown Seattle” (which drew an audible scoff from one person in the audience), as he listed some of DESC’s board members, including King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen, Seattle Police Department Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer, and former City Attorney Mark Sidran. (No, none of them live in West Seattle, he acknowledged later.) He also talked about the complex providing “another set of eyes on the street 24/7” because it is staffed around the clock, monitoring “everybody coming into and out of the building.”

Yet, it is not a jail, and residents are not prohibited from leaving. Could they use drugs or alcohol in their own apartments? one attendee asked. Yes, replied Hobson – the monitoring would kick in if, for example, someone “loaded” tried to go out and cause trouble. Residents have to sign “Good Neighbor” agreements, he said, and visitors are held to an even higher standard of behavior – but otherwise, the residents are just tenants who sign leases and live their lives, albeit with support services on site. No curfews, no forced medication.

Will you have sex offenders living there? one person asked. Hobson committed to barring that “if it’s what (the neighborhood wants).” But as other suggestions piled up, implying that the tenants might be a danger to those living nearby, he began to bristle, asking for the opportunity to clear up myths about the mentally ill.

It’s not only that neighbors fear a threat from the tenants, it was suggested – they also worry that this is not the right place for vulnerable people, since Delridge still grapples with problems including drug dealing and other types of crime.

Another issue: The dramatic increase in density that this project would bring to the block it’s on; though the DESC proposal is within the area’s current zoning, the lots they’re planning to buy hold only a few housing units now. “We are motivated to end homelessness,” Hobson said. “It is about as expensive to build a 20-unit (building) as a 75-unit building.” Beyond zoning, he added, the city has guidelines for what percentage of housing in a given area can be geared for those of extremely low-income – below 30 percent of the median income – and he said this project, to fit those guidelines, could have had up to 77 units. Staffing, too, is a cost they have to handle, he said: “In order to staff our buildings the way we want to staff them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, costs a lot of money. If we have more units, that money comes in via rent subsidies.” He did later confirm this is the lowest-current-density neighborhood into which DESC has sought to place a project.

DESC was accused of not reaching out to the non-English-speaking residents likely to be affected by their project; information about tonight’s meeting was distributed only in English. And when Hobson tried to say that his agency didn’t have the resources to distribute information in multiple languages, it was flung back at him that he had earlier talked about DESC’s clout. NDNC members on hand protested that they tried to reach out to other cultures in the neighborhood, and certainly they, as an all-volunteer group, had fewer resources than an agency engaged in “multi-million-dollar housing projects.”

And yet a few moments of the harshest criticism came not from attendees, toward DESC, but inbetween attendees. One man called it “insulting and embarrassing” that others were concerned about a building to be inhabited by the mentally ill: “A society is judged on how well it treats its elderly, those in prison, those unable to take care of themselves.” And he even questioned the voiced concern about sex offenders, contending “95 percent” of sex offenses are committed by someone the victim knows. But then he asked a question that others said had been on their mind: “If you are getting rent subsidies, how do you maintain it, so there’s not algae on the siding, trash in the front yard – how are you going to keep your facility clean?”

DESC has a maintenance team with more than 40 people, Hobson replied, inviting attendees to tour its other sites, “take a look at the outside, see how we keep them up.” Two of the buildings are now 15 years old, he noted, adding that “the nature of the public funding we have (involves) 40-year obligations to city, county, and state,” all of which, he said, extensively audit organizations such as his, including onsite visits.

Later in the meeting, NDNC’s Kirsten Smith said she had done something close to visiting DESC sites – she had spoken with neighborhood councils in some of the areas where DESC operates, and asked them about their concerns. Besides being told of “increased ambulance calls,” she did uncover some complaints about landscaping gone awry, she said – Hobson sheepishly confirmed it and said the problems were being addressed – but, overall, said she had found a rather low level of concern, just the occasional tenant found wandering.

NDNC chair Kohlhaas reiterated that concern about tenants was a real issue: “We have a lot of opportunistic crime in this neighborhood … and (DESC tenants) are probably some of the most vulnerable people in our society.” She told Hobson she didn’t want to hear such concerns dismissed as “NIMBYism.” Hobson protested, “You haven’t heard that from us.”

Another attendee, describing herself as “liv(ing) up the hill a ways,” said she volunteers with DESC by giving haircuts to tenants, and finds them “not threatening … I am not scared.”

It’s not the tenants that might be the threat, said a man who identified himself as a bus driver, “but overall, the people you wouldn’t want in your neighborhood increases … (tenants’) friends, people to go to for drugs or alcohol … the main problem that I have is not the 75, but what the 75 attracts. … You say you’ll have security, but they are just ‘door shakers,’ and I don’t want police having to (spend a lot of resources).”

From there, for a time, the orderly progression of the meeting deteriorated into cacophony and raised voices – allegations of classism, why aren’t DESC projects “sited in Madison Park or Magnolia or Queen Anne or Laurelhurst or Windermere,” and then counter-allegations from a project supporter, who was in turn shouted down once he admitted not living along Delridge, but instead to the west on 30th SW. Eventually once it started concentrating to a back-and-forth between two people, someone seated between them suggested they go outside and talk it out, so the others could continue getting questions answered.

That’s when Delridge District Council chair McBride jumped in. “If you had chosen to have a discussion with us ahead of time,” he told Hobson, the results might have been different. “The area we are in right now is undergoing something of a renaissance. (Community advocates) brought it from something it used to be, to what it currently is. There’s a whole ‘nother step they want to take it to … We’re (finally) able to see where we want to go, where we want to take this place. A lot of the heated passion you see here – people have come in and chosen to live here, and build it (up) .. they feel very personally, very strongly, it’s a place they have invested much into .. By coming in now at this point, you are at a very key juncture for this neighborhood, with a lot of passion about what is coming in, and concerns about what is going forward. … What we’ve seen in this room is a lot of fear and uncertainty and doubts. … and the very thing that you are building, means (less) likelihood of bringing the institutions we need to thrive … (those institutions) are not going to react well to the presence of your facility.”

Another man jumped in to say the ongoing Delridge struggle for more businesses and services is even more critical now
that “the Viaduct is going down and we are locked here, we are going to be shut down … we’re trying to create a hub that we can survive in for 10 or 12 years, we need every bit of resource that we can get into this neighborhood.” What’s missing, such as a grocery store, is “not here because of the [low] median income in this neighborhood – and your project brings it down considerably.”

The arguments didn’t change the fact that, as had been assessed, DESC was not there to “seek permission,” but to try to “work with” the neighborhood, as Hobson put it. But from there, the discussion took a different track – one that might lead to some commercial development on the building’s ground floor.

While a few people left the meeting once Hobson had reiterated, no, they would not change their mind about pursuing the Delridge project, regardless of what they heard, others stayed and looked for opportunities to make lemonade. Could it be a mixed-use development? some wondered. Hobson did not rule that out; permit applications have not yet been filed, and only the roughest of sketches was shown regarding a prospective design – as he had mentioned in our conversation earlier this month, possibly an “L” to get the building wrapped around an “exceptional tree” that needs to be saved, a Himalayan cedar. (The project architect, West Seattle resident John Woodworth, was in attendance; his past projects included the building in which the meeting was being held – Vivian McLean Place/Delridge Library – and the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.)

Maybe Delridge’s long-desired grocery store could go on the ground floor, it was suggested. More feasibly, an enterprise like the Delridge Produce Cooperative might be perfect, someone else offered. And yet another voice hoped for a bank. Then there was the idea of a pet business.

“What do you guys want?” Hobson asked, later clarifying that his organization could do the recruiting, but would want to hear what the community needed. He said only one of the DESC projects thus far had a commercial tenant – the Aurora project that’s about to break ground on the site of Cyndy’s Pancake House was expected to include a smaller café operated by that restaurant’s owners.

“We need our neighborhood to grow,” was the most plaintive answer.

One way to help ensure that, it was suggested more than once before the meeting ended just in time to beat the library’s 8 pm closure, is to stay involved: Don’t just turn out for this one issue, show up for community organizations’ regular meetings, like the North Delridge Neighborhood Council (second Monday of the month, 6:30 pm, ndnc.org), month in and month out.

Hobson suggested the group might consider “bring(ing) in mental-health professionals, to raise awareness” as his organization’s project theoretically proceeds.

In turn, it was suggested to him that the future Delridge facility might consider utilizing the Recovery Garden at nearby Cottage Grove Park for its intended purpose.

But first – months of process are ahead. Though Hobson did not get to a “what’s next” discussion point before running out of time, he had laid some of that out during our interview two weeks ago – saying they need to secure financing as well as permits, and then, “in the most optimistic scenario, we could be under construction by the end of next summer, probably more like early fall of next year.” (We also confirmed with architect Woodworth that the project would have to go through Design Review.)

100 Replies to "'Passionate' meeting, but Delridge homeless-housing project will roll on"

  • JoAnne June 28, 2011 (12:23 am)

    This is a terrible program that hands out free housing to drug-using mentally ill people and requires absolutely nothing from them in return.

    Contrast this program with Habit for Humanity, where volunteers work alongside clients, who are required to contribute several hundred hours of labor to their houses, which are not entirely free.

    Even a mentally ill person can make a decision to avoid drugs and alcohol, but this program doesn’t even ask for basic sobriety. The DESC has no respect for these people whatsoever and considers them animals with no control over themselves. Expectations could not possibly be lower.

    As for all the oversight that is promised, ask anyone who has experience with a mentally ill drug/alchol user. He/she will tell you these promises mean nothing. Violence can occur at any time, and if it hasn’t happened at a DESC housing site (which I don’t believe) then they have been very lucky so far.

    This program measures its success in terms of an increased demand for services, not in terms of folks graduating to a more self-sufficient or responsible lifestyle…”if you build it they will come.”

    It’s a disaster from start to finish.

  • AJ June 28, 2011 (12:27 am)

    Looking at DESC current and future sites I can’t help but notice that there aren’t any in Queen Anne, Magnolia, or Madison Park. I live close to the current proposed site on Delridge. Maybe the residents of these projects would be better served by being in stable neighborhoods with all the amenities? Acces to grocery stores, shopping, bus lines, and responsive neighbors ready to assist these people in need? I think that would help much more than what the “Transitional,” Delridge community currently has to offer….just a thought.

  • Michael June 28, 2011 (12:33 am)

    People who paint this as about being scared or hateful of the homeless are being disingenuous. The homeless having it tough (and they do) is not the most important factor in siting a building. If a luxury developer had waltzed in and said, in effect, “I’ll do what I want,” that would be a big problem too.
    There are multiple issues here, most of which involve the unique and fragile character of the neighborhood and why many of us moved here and the future we were literally financially banking on.
    This has everything to do with scope and care for the neighborhood, none of which I’m hearing from Hobson (aside from the standard boilerplate developer “we’ll look into it” vows) and without which our already eroding gains will be further lost. Is there anyone in any neighborhood with another DESC building who is willing to speak on how it has improved their community?
    And one of the reasons Hobson has decided to buy the land here (besides low cost) is access to services. How will those services be improved to handle the additional usage?
    The hard part to swallow is that Hobson sounds less like a public advocate and more like just another developer.

  • cj June 28, 2011 (1:32 am)

    Early in my life I had the misfortune to have to live in funded housing developments in San Antonio where some of them are notorious. I will say looking back on that very dangerous time in my life that it was not so much the tenants that were a threat to the neighborhoods but the type of people who were not in need of help but were more like parasites who preyed off the weak and in that way lived off them.

    If they are saying that this must happen but are asking what can they do for the community then protecting the vulnerable tenants from those parasites would be a good start.

  • feather June 28, 2011 (6:35 am)

    This will be a disaster for the Delridge community. If you want to know how this will effect your neighborhood – try this: Call SPD and ask them how many times police have been called to the various DESC buildings in downtown. The number will shock you. I hope those of you near the site don’t mind hearing sirens all day & night.

  • Sage June 28, 2011 (6:43 am)

    DESC has a consistent track record of generating huge passionate opposition when a project Is announced, and not causing hardly any impact at all after completion. A look at their other sites shows that.

    Also, it is impossible to take the opponents concern about the potential tenants seriously. The alternative is their remaIning homeless. Concern for these people is measured by what you do when it’s a little challenging, not what you say when it’s convenient.

    What kind of community do you want? An embracing, caring one, or a place where everyone cares only for maximizing their property value.

  • laura b June 28, 2011 (6:59 am)

    A great program that is a little scary to consider. it actually decreases the pressure on local agencies: police & rescue – leaving our emergency rooms & jails for actual emergencies & criminals; and it offers our chronically homeless a home – a chance to feel human again. I love the idea of mixing in a business with the building. that’s a great way to add resources to the community.

    I want to add… mental illness isn’t a choice. the reason people end up homeless isn’t because living on the streets sounds like fun – it’s because they are ill and they lack adequate support. we shouldn’t vilify the residents. instead let’s look for opportunity for mutual benefit.

  • Kayleigh June 28, 2011 (8:30 am)

    ROFL. Delridge is undergoing a “renaissance?” It’s been a high-crime area since I was a kid. One marginal pho restaurant (which gave me food poisoning) doesn’t make a “renaissance.” Laurelhurst it ain’t.
    I wonder how many of the hostile opposition members got into their Priuses with the peace sign and Obama bumper stickers and drove home with self-satisfied smirks, fightin’ the good fight for the neighborhood that they don’t give a crap about until something might negatively affect them, at which time they are suddenly all “community active.”
    Sorry for the snark, but sometimes West Seattle is just too precious for words.

  • ikahana June 28, 2011 (8:40 am)

    I tried to get into the meeting last night, but arrived too late (darn work) and was turned away. I’m glad to see mixed-use development mentioned – that would be ideal (of course, in my opinion – not speaking for everyone). I’m in favor of this project, but I understand the high emotions on all sides. I was disappointed when I looked in the room to not see the diversity that I see on my street (I live two SHORT blocks away from the planned sight). Not just talking about race or ethnicity, although certainly that, either. Of course, it was a pretty quick glimpse. The lack of information being printed in languages other than English may be part of this reason. I don’t really know what else may have been a factor.

    My partner and I have already decided we will volunteer at the site when/if it opens. I hope other members of this neighborhood, which we LOVE, will do as well and get to know these folks. Having experience (both professionally and personally) with folks who are homeless, mentally ill and being social outcasts, I know the huge difference it makes when people treat them with respect and as part of a community and a larger whole.

    I understand the fear – I must add. I understand why folks are against this. However I see this as an amazing opportunity to enrich our neighborhood – perhaps with new businesses on the main floor (I’d about kill for a decent coffeehouse around here and some good Thai food) and to show that one of the most diverse communities in Seattle has a strength and compassion that you don’t find in other places.

  • Been There June 28, 2011 (8:42 am)

    This is how Seattle feels good and smug about itself. We talk a good game about social equity & social justice, and helping out those who need it. Yet conveniently, the people who get to feel good aren’t directly impacted because they keep these facilities out of their neighborhoods because they have money, are politically well connected and by keeping their property values high, supposedly keep land/dirt beyond financial reach of those who build these projects. One only need to do a bit of research to see where these facilities are primarily located.

    In this section of Delridge you have a very low population density neighborhood that is way down the economic food chain and that is just getting its legs under it after years of work by people who give a damn and along comes yet another burden to be borne by those least able to handle it. As Noam Chomsky would say, it is class warfare done with a smile, and it is really ugly and disgusting. If the proponents/DESC would just say we are putting it here because we can, at least they would have my respect.

    The most troubling thing about this whole affair is that this neighborhood does not currently have what the residents of the proposed facility need. Needs that were stated over and over by Bill Hobson. It is not a thriving center of commercial and street activity. The chosen site is within one block of three, yes three convenience stores that are real good at shoveling the worst food and beverage products out the door. There are known drug houses and dealers that continue to plague the area, looking for new customers to sell to in the woods along Longfellow Creek, in the deplorable alleys or outside of the Library. And other than the Longfellow Creek trail, the walkability is atrocious, both from a built environment standpoint and from a topographical perspective as well. The area is a landlocked, narrow valley. There are visions and works in progress to improve the walkability and vitality of the area but we are not there yet and won’t be for another ten years, if we are lucky. Yet those points are glossed over, why they are is beyond my ability to comprehend.

  • JoAnne June 28, 2011 (8:47 am)

    To pretend there are only two choices, either provide free housing and expect nothing in return or have DESC clients living on the street, is completely disingenuous.

    These people are not homeless cats. They are able to make choices about their lives, such as whether to manage their illness or not.

    Many people grappling with serious mental illness have struggled valiantly to care for themselves, and have achieved varying levels of independence.

    This program is horrible and completely unsuccessful by any reasonable standard. It measures success by how far it can expand itself and how much it can encourage dependency.

    There are worthy programs that really do help the homeless and mentally ill. It’s a crime that our tax dollars are going to pay for this sham. Our Delridge neighbors have fought long and hard to improve their neighborhood. I hate to see them dragged down by the city poverty pimps.

  • Sage June 28, 2011 (8:51 am)

    Points to Been There for being perhaps the first person ever to cite Noam Chomsky in opposition to services for poor people! Look forward to seeing you quote Che Guevara in defense of finance capitalism sometime soon!

  • proudpugetridger June 28, 2011 (8:56 am)

    @ Laura–Which came first, the chicken or the egg…? Did the mental illness result in drug and alcohol abuse issues, or did the drugs and alcohol result in permanent brain damage and mental illness? I believe that most (certainly not all!) of these chronic abusers had the ability to change their behavior at some point in their lives, prior to the situation they find themselves in today. So yes, in an obscure way, some folks DO choose mental illness…which is a consequence of their life choices. Being stress free and getting high when you’re young is easy, buckling down and focusing effort on your future is much more difficult.
    The proposed location of this facility is what is being debated today. We all agree that these folks need help, but placing them in a mostly-residential, working class, community doesn’t make sense…once you consider that nearly none of the resources they’ll need are within walking distance. The end result is that these mentally ill folks will be wandering in our parks and alleys without any purpose or destination.
    Unfortunately, those of us that are directly-impacted neighbors and homeowners are absolutely powerless to get our concerns heard.
    Basically, this is yet another groin kick to the Delridge community! If we could somehow generate a map that identifies the personal home locations of all the self-proclaimed “do gooders” who are endorsing this facility we’d confirm that nearly all of them live in affluent neighborhoods, far from our beloved Delridge corridor. …yet they accuse US of selfishly practicing NIMBY habits.

  • Been There June 28, 2011 (9:01 am)

    @Sage – This is not about quoting Chomsky against services for poor people. It is about quoting Chomsky for using a poor neighborhood by a wealthy city and that city feeling good about itself.

  • Alex June 28, 2011 (9:03 am)

    Practically every other corner of the city has one already. Is Delridge really so pristine that the homeless don’t belong there? Get real. The next location will not be upper queen anne. Delridge is a perfectly appropriate place for this sort of thing.

  • Neighbor of proposed project June 28, 2011 (9:23 am)

    If this project is moving forward regardless of how the majority of the neighborhood feels, I’d like to see a business like a Farestart Cafe – http://farestart.org/ one that could actually teach job skills to the residents of the building or to other folks in need in our neighborhood.

    Of course, what we all want is a real grocery store.

    My major objection to this project is the already existing lack of services along the area of Delridge where this is proposed.

    With 75 new tenants on one block, how will that impact the 120 bus service? Hobsen said they’d have a van available to take residents to the grocery store – how are they going to ferry 75 residents – making 10 trips?

    A neighbor pointed out that this area is about the farthest from Harborview or other hospital services possible. If the residents need medical services, this is not the best place for them.

    I actually support the work DESC is doing, but I don’t understand how the residents of the new building will access services. Will they all go across the street to the library? The Delridge community center is a mile down the road, the grocery is a couple of miles away.

    Hobsen said a problem they have is with residents isolating themselves in their rooms, with nothing outside of the building to entice them out (except for a walk in the summer) in this area, how is this a good location?

    • WSB June 28, 2011 (9:25 am)

      NOPP – We noted in an earlier story that FareStart caters one of the daily meals for DESC, per our 6/14 interview with Bill Hobson … TR

  • Jonah June 28, 2011 (9:25 am)

    DESC wants to come to Delridge for the same reason that the rest of us did, and for the same reason that we do not live in Magnolia or Madison Park – it is where we could afford to live and still be in the City.

    So much anger last night about what the potential residents and what they attract will do TO us. What about the opportunity they present FOR us – to show that a neighborhood can support the least among us with humanity and grace; to show that development can occur with all types of housing present; to show that understanding can win out over fear.

    In my view, all that yelling seemed to boil down to one thing: we don’t want those residents here because we are afraid of them. What if we partnered with DESC instead to create a stronger community? Or at least stopped yelling long enough to listen?

  • Neighbor of proposed project June 28, 2011 (9:32 am)

    TR – Right, what I was suggesting is an actual Farestart cafe like the one at the 2100 bldg – a cafe that could serve the neighborhood as well as offer job training onsite. If they already have the relationship with Farestart, perhaps this would be a good fit. They could still have space for the local produce cooperative thing.

  • Jim June 28, 2011 (10:12 am)

    The city allows homeless camps and mental institutions to move into west seattle because they don’t face near the amount of opposition and NIMBY outcry that comes from neighborhoods like Magnolia.

    An interesting side note about Magnolia: a recent police/UW poll found that Magnolia residents are concerned about increases in crime in their neighborhood, when statistics clearly show that crime in Magnolia is much less than most other Seattle neighborhoods. They oppose every social project that may interefere with their “suburban” way of life, when they are one of the closest neighborhoods to the Seattle core. And some of the most ardent opposition to the tunnel has come from this neighborhood. Why is this little upper-class chunk of Seattle dictating most of our policy? Why doesn’t Nicklesville move over there for a change? Bescause the enlightened liberals of Magnolia don’t want to actually see homelessness and destitution.

  • Brandon Node June 28, 2011 (10:50 am)

    Rick Freidhoff (Compass Housing Alliance) said in the Seattle Channel’s City Inside/Out: Housing the Poor on 5/6/2011 – “I think that is important that it is not just any place outside the downtown core. Access to transit, because the people at our building will not own cars, walk able access to groceries store, drug stores, parks, recreational activity, and other services are important to us”.

    Being that the proposed DESC site on Delridge does not have walkable access to groceries store, drug stores or medical facilities and has limited bus service (one bus route, 120, with no direct access to a grocery store in West Seattle), I wonder what Rick Freidhoff and Compass Housing Alliance position is on this proposed DESC facility.

  • John A. Novak June 28, 2011 (11:02 am)

    I’m all for helping the homeless, but the bottomline is that building a homeless facility for the mentally unstable in an already unstable neighborhood makes no sense. It does not benefit either parties. There is no logic in Bill Hobson’s statement that he wants to be a “participant in the stabelization of this neighborhood.”

    The only apparent reason he wants to build here is because it’s cheap land.

    So to all of you who are saying “shame on you for not caring about the homeless” be careful with your accusations. The fact of the matter is that we do care, but we see immense flaws in his site location.

    But according to Bill Hobson, he is unwilling to listen to logic – because as he put it – they are building it whether we like it or not.

  • dsa June 28, 2011 (11:24 am)

    Face it Magnolia has it’s act together to keep this type riff raff out.

  • LMT June 28, 2011 (12:18 pm)

    Bill said “No disrespect to convenience stores, but our clients need to shop at a GROCERY store–NOT a convenience store.” He stressed how important that was but never addressed the fact that the location for his new project is directly across the street from 2 convenience stores and not in walking distance to ANY grocery stores. Like so much of what he said, it didn’t make sense. But I guess it doesn’t matter because he is white and privileged and can come in here with all of his connections and money while making us feel bad for questioning if this is a safe and healthy place for HIS tenants.

  • Sage June 28, 2011 (1:02 pm)

    DESC is the organization that serves the poorest & most vulnerable in our communities, and it seems fair to assume that based on their years of experience and success housing difficult populations, they know better what’s a good site for their facilities then anyone else. Experiences from neighborhood groups near their other sites demonstrate they do a good job with these kinds of project.
    DESC has assessed the neighborhood and they think this is a good site for the project. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe them than the neighborhood council braintrust.

  • John A. Novak June 28, 2011 (1:04 pm)

    I also find it surprising that we had to have him promise us to not have any sex offenders in this facility. Really!? I would think that would be a give-in. I mean if he did any research on the area, he would have known about the transitional school, daycare, and playground just blocks away…

  • Rosemary & Thyme June 28, 2011 (1:23 pm)

    For a man who blathers on about his many high level connections and robust resources, he cannot utilize some of his power and money to reach out to the non-english speaking community in advance with a flyer about the meeting on Monday night? Bullsh!t! When he was called out on that he changed tune completely saying how limited his resources are…then his full time employee said she wants to have the North Delridge Neighborhood Council do the legwork and research on that topic. Um, they are volunteers, you get paid to do what you do. The NDNC has worked tirelessly and often quietly to improve this neighborhood and the last thing they need is more work piled on them when their plates are full.
    And Bill was right, DESC does have a lot of money! Loads of it! Their (most recent public) 2009 tax records show total revenue over $20M and net very close to $14M. http://www.eri-nonprofit-salaries.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=NPO.Form990&EIN=911275815&Year=2011
    A few translated materials couldn’t be too big of a burden on the millions at their disposal. Maybe the truth is that they don’t want more dissenting opinions to wrangle. It’s hard to manipulate everybody and in every language spoken in Delridge.

  • Rosemary & Thyme June 28, 2011 (1:28 pm)

    John, I agree about the very judgmental and *reluctant* negotiation of not allowing sex offenders was mind boggling. Bill Hobson wanted to defend sex offenders!!! Have them move in with you, in your home, Mr. Hobson. What will you do when your grandchildren visit? Will your wife be safe? Think about that as you are negotiating from your powerful place and playing God with our neighborhood. And stop closing your eyes and shaking your head when people are trying to be empowered in a low income community…Hard to see how that aligns with your goals to help the disenfranchised.

  • Amanda L. June 28, 2011 (1:30 pm)

    I am not completely opposed to the DESC project. That said, I still have concerns about the density of population over three city plots. DESC wants to convert three single family homes into 75 studio apartments.

    Four stories is too tall for this area. Look along the street and there are plenty of three story townhomes and small single family homes. There are no massive apartment complexes or condo development. Four stories over three city plots is too tall.

    DESC said that it costs the same to do a 20 unit versus a 75 unit but they need the continued income from rent. If construction cost is not such a factor, why not expand into a forth lot that is for sale next door? Then the building could be three stories and not dwarf/overpower the community.

    This is too dense for our small neighborhood! And I would have this issue if they were DESC residents or Queen Anne residents.

  • john June 28, 2011 (1:35 pm)

    Mr. Hobson, please approach your downtown connections with this sweet deal: a 10-year meaningful reduction in city B&O taxes for the grocery store that opens up shop within 5 blocks of this new development.

  • Neighbor of proposed project June 28, 2011 (1:41 pm)

    Did anyone else notice that DESC Executive Director Bill Hobson makes over $145,000 / year on that 990 linked above? He certainly has an incentive to get more of these housing projects built, regardless of the location lacking the services he specifically stated were needed by the residents. Mind boggling.

  • Amy not fooled in Delridge June 28, 2011 (1:47 pm)

    as george w bush said “you can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”
    desc chose to host this event in the smallest possible meeting space in delridge with a max capacity of 40 and we were way over capacity.
    people lined the back of the room and sat on the floor. a cop stood in the doorway and turned away about 25 neighbors who never got to hear the so-called discussion. shame on desc and bill hobson for making this such a sham of a meeting. shame! then he has the gall to call the room “hellish”.
    we would have filled youngstown auditorium if you’d planned better. but then you’d have more people to fool. the only thing hellish was you trying to push us around in our own hood.

    btw john who commented directly above, great idea. maybe we should just start listing our demands since this man touts that he is so almighty and powerful. sure he’d love to move in and then take credit for any develpment we do on our own. shame shame sham!

  • proudpugetridger June 28, 2011 (2:21 pm)

    So…the director of the ministry that services the poorest-of-the-poor makes $145K?? Awesome, huh?
    It seems nearly everyone, except the majority of my Delridge neighbors, is bit quick to drink that “compassion and love” kool-aid!

  • Perry June 28, 2011 (2:26 pm)

    There is always great hostility toward any housing program that serves people who have mental illnesses, largely founded on ignorance, discrimination and prejudice. It’s always the same set of fears, all not supported by extensive research:
    1. “They are violent.” This is completely inaccurate, has been extensively researched, and shown to be false. People who have mental illnesses are no more likely than the rest of us to be violent. This is largely based on bias in the media that flies in the face of the research.
    2. “They are sex offenders.” Again, lots of data to support that the people we should fear are our loved ones, not mentally ill strangers raping our children.
    3. “Having them in the neighborhood will decrease home values.” Again, not a shred of data to support this.
    We need to face up to the fact that most of the posted reactions on this blog are based on ignorance, discrimination, and prejudice, and is classic a NIMBY response. DESC has a long, successful track record of doing this, and as their references showed, the only things that the neighborhood will notice are more ambulances at the facility.
    It is fundamentally un-American to discriminate against people who have mental illnesses, solely based on their diagnosis and lack of housing. Would the Delridge community really object the same way to supported housing for seniors, or people who are HIV positive, or from an immigrant community?

  • WSB June 28, 2011 (2:51 pm)

    Folks, we insist on civility between those who participate in the discussion and we won’t stand for a lack of it hurled at those who aren’t “in the room,” so to speak. You can criticize what DESC said and wants to do and given that there is so much public funding involved, the person who brought up Bill Hobson’s salary is not necessarily offtopic, but end it there, and stick to facts. No profane insulting namecalling, no critiquing of how somebody looks. There’s no need for it. Those comments aren’t going through. Make your argument or criticism based on what was said or wasn’t said, what was done or wasn’t done, what’s proposed or not proposed, information you’ve learned, etc. The debate is plenty strong enough without getting ugly. Thank you – Tracy

  • Proud Nimby June 28, 2011 (3:15 pm)

    Perry, I will wear your indictment like a badge of honor.

  • Kayleigh June 28, 2011 (3:15 pm)

    These comments on Mr. Hobson (whose job is far from cushy or easy or wealth-generating) and the people he builds homes for (whose lives are not much about “choice”) are offensive, ignorant, and immature. I’m going to go back to reading just the restaurant openings and crime reports.

  • John A. Novak June 28, 2011 (3:15 pm)

    Seriously people need to stop accusing us of not caring for the homeless community… If this was a more stable community then I would be all for this homeless facility. BUT THIS IS NOT A STABLE COMMUNITY.
    Bill Hobson said it himself that the only reason they are building here and not in the Junction is because it makes more economical sense. Meaning that the main motive behind this is financial gain.
    It would seem that the paid staff at this “nonprofit” wouldn’t want to take on the financial burden of building this facility in a more stable neighborhood like the Junction, or the admirable district.

  • Proud Nimby June 28, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    Perry, could could you provide me any links to this “extensive research”?

  • Walking the NIMBY fence June 28, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    I admit, I am not one to welcome 75 mentally ill neighbors right off the bat. However, I do understand the need for transitional housing services.


    I walk that NIMBY fence.


    My biggest issue with this development is the fact that our neighborhood does not provide the services that formerly homeless people need. Heck, it doesn’t even provide the services housed people need.


    I bus to and from work but I still need my car. The 120 can get you up and down Delridge but it does not provide door-to-door grocery access for Delridge residents. I would think this is one of the biggest things to help people transition – services within walking distance. The mini-bus transport for this complex’s residents is laughable.


    Also, I know a lot of us point to the fact that these projects are not in the wealthier neighborhoods in town, but that’s not really the point anymore. We can go on and on about the wage gap and tons of other economic issues, but the fact remains that this development is being placed in a neighborhood with NO amenities to help the new residents. Even the developers admit that!!!


    I was unable to attend the meeting but am certainly going to try next time.

  • Will June 28, 2011 (3:23 pm)

    What is the turnover rates of these facilities? What happens when you relocate a homeless person then remove them from the program? They don’t go back to where they came from…

  • meh June 28, 2011 (3:43 pm)

    Unfortunately my comment about Mr. Hobson’s salary was scrubbed by WSB?

    Curious how other comments that refer to Mr. Hobson as “White and Privileged” or equate him to a modern day “Jim Jones” passing out kool-aid, or “Almighty and Powerful” are being tolerated? Be fair WSB. Still you have a point. Let’s be civil.

    • WSB June 28, 2011 (3:46 pm)

      I’m still reviewing the others. Just noticed by mid-afternoon that things were getting ugly. – TR

  • sompthin stanks June 28, 2011 (3:59 pm)

    Bravo to DESC and their friends for making us feel powerless in our own community. “It can’t be stopped” is just a way to suppress the people. Haven’t you seen the poster with the kitty that says “anything is possible?” And bravo to the friends and profiteers of DESC who took up chairs that should have gone to community members who were shooed away when the room was full.

  • Recall McGinn June 28, 2011 (4:10 pm)

    West Seattle and it’s surrounding areas are becoming the dumping ground for Seattle.

  • Jonah June 28, 2011 (4:11 pm)

    Guys, sex offenders are not the issue. There are sex offenders all around us (see the King County website, here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/sheriff/SOSearch.aspx). I’d rather have them in a monitored facility than living on their own next door.

  • Amy not fooled in Delridge June 28, 2011 (4:15 pm)

    meh, saw your orig comment. brilliant. not offensive at all. have a feeling there are lots of comments getting censored. people are outraged by the way desc handled this “public forum” which was just a box to check off. no real listening or considering the excellent points that were brought up. sompthin stanks, good point about DESC friends taking up seats that should have gone to neighbors.

    • WSB June 28, 2011 (4:40 pm)

      ANF: We don’t “censor.” We have rules, and that keeps the comment section on this site from descending to the sewer level to which the comments have fallen on many other news sites. If you want to have that kind of no-holds-barred free-for-all exchange beneath a news story about this topic, one of the many area news organizations that don’t care about their comment sections would have to be persuaded to care enough about this area to cover the story. For now, sorry to say, you seem to be stuck with us as the only news organization covering it – they all read us, so they’ve all seen multiple stories about this subject, and they have all clearly chosen not to cover it. We appreciate your readership and participation. Anyway, since you’re interested, a grand total of three comments have not been approved for publication or been removed post-publication, and that’s my last comment on the subject – TR

  • diane June 28, 2011 (4:24 pm)

    Who here has worked on behalf of the neighborhood to get any of these services you are talking about? Grocery stores, banks, anything – have you gone to the City, gone to businesses, talked to non-profits and grantmakers, worked on behalf of the community? I know some of you have, and you’ve worked hard. But for those of you who haven’t, please take your passion there before you spend your energy tearing down those of us who believe progress and compassion are compatible.

  • Sage June 28, 2011 (4:25 pm)

    Thought latecomers to the thread might want a glossary:
    “the people” = those who are housing homeless people near them. Those who support housing for all are either 1) naive, 2) not really from Delridge, or 3) somehow in league with the nonprofit industrial complex.
    “profiteers” = providers of supportive housing for the most vulnerable populations around. Big bucks in that — that’s why there are so many more units of housing than there are homeless people.
    “caring” = being more concerned about property values than human values
    Also note that any neighbor without 1000 feet of the project site is automatically conferred with more knowledge of the services and amenities mentally ill people need than are those who serve these populations as their life’s work.
    Once you digest all that, you’ll better be able to understand the comments here. You’re welcome!

  • Cascadianone June 28, 2011 (4:44 pm)

    This Hobson clearly decided a long time ago that he knew what was best for all of us. He seemed really annoyed the plebians even showed up. Why have a meeting at all? He wasn’t negotiating with anyone about sex offenders, DESC clearly decided not to house them in this facility and he made a little show of “giving in” to soothe your egos. That, or he was just lying and they will house them there anyway. Once it is built, how could you stop them from housing sex offenders without breaking the law??? What value is that promise? Delridge peeps, you guys need to lawyer up and fight this guy. Do some deep research and demand AT LEAST common sense concessions like a grocery store… If you make it expensive enough for them, they will negotiate or depart. This is, and always will be, about money. That’s why the deep bore tunnel is going through, because rich developers outspent us and will profit mightily from it. Make it clear to him that he will be throwing lots of cash out if he doesn’t come off that high horse and you might see his attitude change. Lucky for you guys, he’s WAY less wealthy than the pro-tunnel folks- you actually have a prayer.

  • dsa June 28, 2011 (4:50 pm)

    It looks like they will encourage an outpatient clientele in addition to the 75 beds.
    “…During the day, the main emergency shelter becomes a drop-in center where people can seek refuge from the elements and access food, showers, hygiene items, clean clothes, and mail pick-up. In this way, a tooth brush or a simple meal become tools of engagement,…”
    http://www.desc.org/entry.html click entry services to find the quoted text.

  • mcbride June 28, 2011 (4:52 pm)

    It really has been a community effort. Many folks in this community have been engaged in all related topics you mention, the most visible results being at the community improvement level. If you’re willing to take my word on it, we’ve checked every box on your list from numerous angles of approach for the last two years. For those inspired to (additional) action, please feel free to attend a Strategic Delridge meeting, 6 PM, Youngstown, Third Wednesday of the month (please note that this schedule will resume in September, follow the blog for details).
    As a general comment to the entirety of this thread: I would hesitate before suggesting that the residents of this community were less than tolerant. Services for disenfranchised communities positively Abound in Delridge. These providers, many and diverse, are accepted and partnered with – they are part of the community. To claim some moral authority over a community that has already proven itself in this area is unfair at best. What I have heard in North Delridge is support for what DESC does. Criticism, such as it is, is largely captured as “but not the location it has selected, which has capacity challenges (on almost all applicable levels).”

  • southie June 28, 2011 (5:06 pm)

    JONAH – but they will NOT be monitored. There will be sex offenders living in this new facility (even though he says there won’t be) and it’s an “open” house. Meaning residents and their guests will be free to come & go.

    I don’t live near Delridge and I feel really bad for you guys. This facility is going to be a problem area for years to come. Trust me, I know a lot about the other places and how DESC runs their houses.

  • Amy not fooled in Delridge June 28, 2011 (5:17 pm)

    *************************************** not sure why “sage” felt it was his/her duty to turn his/her “sage” opinions into a word glossary to help us do our thinking. Ending with: “Once you digest all that, you’ll better be able to understand the comments here. You’re welcome!” really? no thank you! onto the facts… ***************************************
    earlier in this thread “sage” also said “desc has assessed the neighborhood and they think this is a good site for the project. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe them…” ***************************************one of the first things hobson said at the mtg was that he “doesn’t know our neighborhood” which became painfully obvious. so i am not feeling confident in his assessment that he knows this is the best, safest or most supported place for his tenants. …people who are extremely vulnerable and need to learn how to buy groceries according to him NOT from a convenience store. *****************************************sage, did you know that there are 2 convenience stores across the street from the property? and as much as neighbors have asked them to stop selling it, they continue to sell the infamous 4loco which will be very tempting to anyone trying to kick a substance abuse habit, or keep one going? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/four-loko-hospitalizes-st_n_774581.html *****************************************
    may be hard for some to fathom but some of us against this are not thinking of property values and don’t even own property here. it’s so much easier to label people and not listen to what people are really saying. using your own glossary to twist someone else’s words into what you already believe about them is not what i call healthy dialogue. again, no thank you.
    wsblog, thanks for keeping it clean. i meant no offense by using the word censor. filter might be better.

  • Diane June 28, 2011 (6:34 pm)

    just want to get my name distinguished from the ‘diane’ posting here, it’s not me; I’ve been posting comments on this site for several years as ‘Diane’, and have seen a new person recently posting comments with same name (my name is highlighted with website link to my child care services) I was at the meeting last night, but I did not comment at the meeting or anywhere on this site re this matter, mainly because I do not live in Delridge, so am not intimately familiar with the critical issues; I’ve been attending meetings in Delridge to learn more about the neighborhood and the people living there; this is an absolutely awesome community

  • meh June 28, 2011 (6:46 pm)

    Clearly this is an emotional issue, but let’s not loose focus of two key issues:

    1) In my opinion this is a social service being placed in a community that does not have a need or population for it. DESC would serve Seattle better in a community that actually has homeless. Although it’s impact on the Delridge community at this point is only speculative, the fact is, it just doesn’t make sense to be here or migrate a population. One must question if the motivation is one other than social service provision? I support the need, but just question the locale.

    2) The manner in which West Seattle is being “told” rather than being involved on the front end is not honest or fair. We are smart people and we deserve of voice. Since when does “we want to involve the community” translate into quote “it’s happening whether area residents like it or not”?

    You could argue the pro and cons for this project, but by the reactions in this thread, it seems it’s already off to a bad start . DESC try more honesty and less watering down of a very serious community concern.

  • Lisa June 28, 2011 (7:25 pm)

    “It’s hard to manipulate everybody and in every language spoken in Delridge.
    Comment by Rosemary & Thyme — June 28, 11 1:23 pm #”

    It wouldn’t be hard if all those people you’re referring to spoke English. We Americans shouldn’t be catering to those people who are here in our country (illegally or legally) who don’t even bother to learn our language or assimilate. English is the common language. Learn it and you can participate in matters such as these and then we don’t end up wasting precious tax dollars for unneeded translators! This project is a bad idea and should be reassigned to Laurelhurst somewhere.

  • WB June 28, 2011 (7:42 pm)

    Everyone opposed to this project can write to elected officials. Links below.

    DESC gets part of their funding from King County and WA legislature. The County Executive, Dow Constantine, in particular, is very interested in Equity and Social Justice (see his site here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/exec/equity.aspx).

    While the homeless population DESC serves falls into the ECJ equation, so do the current residents of Delridge.

    It’s particularly appalling that the DESC claims they do not have the resources to send materials out in multiple languages. I Think that was to manipulate the meeting by excluding diverse groups who would “compete” by having their own needs for a safe and functional home vs. the “need” to house homeless people in their/our community. This project takes away from people trying to build something they deserve. There are free online tools such as Babblefish.com that could have been used in a matter of minutes that could have added translated materials to every flier. King County even has a translation policy the Dow Constantine supports.

    You can contact Dow at: kcexec@kingcounty.gov or

    Seattle City government links are here:

    The 34th District Legislators (for the area) are:
    Senator Sharon Nelson, Representative Eileen Cody, Representative Joe Fitzgibbon. You can contact them at:



    Bill Hobson may say this project is a done deal, but that’s from DESC’s perspective. We may still be able to affect change – whether that’s stopping the project, getting it relocated closer to a grocery, getting a firm committment from DESC to not allow sex offenders, etc.

  • in good company June 28, 2011 (7:45 pm)

    Why didn’t DESC try to meet with us sooner? They could have worked with neighbors for a few years to bring better bus service, grocery store, etc. to the area. That would show some good faith on their part. We could all go through volunteer training in how to best support their population into Delridge. I’d be up for that!
    But first, let’s bring the infrastructure here that would support their tenants AND our current neighbors who rely on buses and cars for all of their families’ needs. That takes time.
    They are putting the cart years before the horse!
    The replies to concerns and questions that I heard people mention who actually got into the meeting showed me that true neighborhood feedback is not what they want. We are in good company though.
    Look at more low income neighborhoods where DESC has bulldozed while telling neighbors it’s too late to stop. The “just shut up and trust us.” attitude degrades one population in the name of supporting another. They’ve done it all over town… the CD, Aurora, Rainier…
    “Hobson’s answer did little to calm the anger of residents, who voiced frustration with Hobson and what they saw as a failure to keep the neighborhood informed about the project until it had already gone through.” CENTRAL DISTRICT http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2010/11/10/officials-urge-residents-not-to-fight-planned-crisis-solutions-center
    “(Neighbors) are also concerned about the lack of communication that the DESC has had with area residents and feel like they haven’t had many of their questions answered.” AURORA
    “The community heard DESC’s message: We’re not asking for your support and we’re not responding to your criticisms. We’re just letting you know what we’re doing.” RAINIER http://www.jpae.org/controversial-issues
    I say let’s stop them on principle. They should learn how to more respectfully approach a neighborhood that is in the developing stages…make more of an effort to research a neighborhood to see if it is a good choice for their population…ask for input before doing land tests and getting realtors and architects involved…
    make sure it’s a place where someone who’s had some hard times can really get on his or her feet with some support: where there are not predators waiting around corners, alleys and greenspaces and along the fast moving thoroughfare with no crosswalks…a bank, a post office, a doctor, a pharmacy, some stores, a hospital…and, yep, a grocery store. Are you hearing us yet, DESC?
    You may think Delridge is like all the other places you forced your way into and now say how much everyone loves you…
    Of course, you are right, people are adaptable and will eventually acquiesce when they feel there is no other choice, but it’s a degrading method you are using and it’s already hurting our neighborhood. Can you see that?
    So please stop using that as your justification for forcing yourself into communities and ignoring neighbors concerns for long enough that they just shut up or get out of your way.

  • sompthin stanks June 28, 2011 (7:53 pm)

    @southie, tell us more. what do you know?

  • Oh No, NOT them! June 28, 2011 (8:01 pm)

    How about you folks also demand that All Jews, Gypsies, and Homosexuals be barred from living in the area too, because ya know you feel they’re not desirable either. Why stop at just the mentally ill?

  • dmtippy June 28, 2011 (9:21 pm)

    DESC does a wonderful job of meeting the person where they are at in terms of either their mental illness or addiction. Once they get these people into stable, secure and SAFE housing they can then begin to address the issues that have lead to them being homeless in the first place. This approach not only helps the individual it helps the tax payers in decreased costs of emergency room visits, and or jail time. DESCs project 1811 Eastlake has saved the city and county over $4million dollars since it’s opening. Many of the residences at this facility have either stopped their addictive behavior or cut down in their drug or alcohol use. The 75 people who will be lucky to receive this housing opportunity will not have to experience another cold snowy winter outside or each day trying to figure out where the next safe place is that they can sleep. Do you have to worry about that every night?

  • Mike June 28, 2011 (10:38 pm)

    So when is the new DESC location opening in Medina?

  • John A. Novak June 29, 2011 (8:56 am)

    @ in good company – very interesting articles about the other facilities proposed in central district and aurora. looks like bill hobson and company is giving the same old song and dance to the other neighborhoods of his other proposed facilities.
    I wonder if there’s any way that the residents of the delridge, central district, and aurora neighborhoods could work together and bring attention to this issue to someone higher up who could help??
    I love how Bill Hobson and company puts on this facade about caring for the less fortunate when all he really cares about is his paycheck.
    I think it’s people like us who question the proposed location and it’s flaws in providing the less fortunate with the essential services they need (a stable neighborhood that’s walkable, with grocery stores, etc), who really care about the welfare of the less fortunate. All Bill Hobson wants to do is build these facilities on cheap affordable land (which are located in under-developed neighborhoods like delridge) and collect his money. Bill Hobson, great job on finding a way to make money off the homeless while putting on a selfless facade…

  • in good company June 29, 2011 (6:43 pm)

    @John A. Novak, Bill may have great compassion for the homeless, but he seems to have no compassion for vulnerable communities.
    @WB Thank you for all of those resources! Letters are being written!
    @DESC, take it to another neighborhood where basic services already exist that could easily be extended to a formerly homeless and vulnerable population. I am sure you want to do the right thing.

  • Marilag June 29, 2011 (8:11 pm)

    “I love how Bill Hobson and company puts on this facade about caring for the less fortunate when all he really cares about is his paycheck.”-John Novak

    To Mr. Novak: How can you be so mean and judgmental when you only get to meet Mr. Hobson once? How can you judge an organization like DESC whose programs are being modeled by other communities and organization nationwide without even giving it a chance to work with you and your community.

    Your neighborhood have valid reasons to be upset and express your opposition, but, can you at least be respectful and focus on the issues.

    Oh, and for those comments about non-English speaking members of the community and making such a big deal of issue about DESC not providing their notice and flyer in other languages, like Tagalog (as mentioned in the meeting on Monday), please, I appreciate your putting it out there, but don’t use it as an issue to malign and discredit a person or an organization. DESC already said at the meeting, that they will try to provide this in the future. Can it just stop there and help them identify what translations should be provided.

    Thank you.

  • JoAnne June 29, 2011 (10:30 pm)

    Do you have any idea who lives in Seattle public housing? Ask. People come from all over the country to get these handouts for active drinkers and drug users.

    I met a young woman living at Alaska house. She had 10 children, all in New York city. I asked, “What brought you to Seattle?”

    She said “I had to find a city with good free housing, and Seattle had that. They have the best free housing.”

    These people are just commodities for the DESC, and neither DESC nor their “clients” could possibly care less about the impact of this degeneracy on neighborhoods.

    The bigger the “need,” the more bloated the DESC budgets, and if exploiting Delridge helps these poverty pimps get what they want, then exploit Delridge they will, regardless of the consequences.

  • Just the Facts Ma'am June 29, 2011 (11:10 pm)


    “In general, more of the Delridge population is in the workforce, but earn less income than the US population, resulting in a higher concentration of families and individuals in poverty. “ from US CENSUS as read on: http://www.dnda.org/our-neighborhoods/market-data
    Compensation of DESC’s highest paid officers, directors, trustees and key employees below and highest paid contractors (all from Bellevue)
    2011 not on file yet
    2010 not on file yet
    2009 (page 30)
    William Hobson Exec.Dir 37.5hrs/wk $145,390
    Mark Siler, CFO $80,537
    James Hopfenbeck, 30hrs/wk $167,118
    Craig Jaffe, Psychiatrist $112,740
    Other salaries and wages not listed $8,989,730
    2008 (page 7)
    William Hobson, 37.5hrs/wk $119,872
    Mark Siler, CFO $86,400
    James Hopfenbeck, 30hrs/wk $171,438
    Craig Jaffe, Psychiatrist 108,316 $111,240
    Other wages and salaries not listed $7,565,051
    Total assets DESC $18,269,274
    2007 (page 10)
    William Hobson 37.5 hrs/wk $119,083
    James Hopfenbeck, 30 hrs/wk $119,726
    Noel S. Howes, ANRP $91,241
    Graydon Andrus $87,959
    Daniel Malone, Housing Program Dir $87,959
    Craig Jaffe, Psychiatrist $85,439
    Highest paid contractor = RAFN of BELLEVUE $518,081
    2006 (page 9)
    William Hobson 37.5 hrs/wk salary not listed
    James Hopfenbeck, 30 hrs/wk $138,763
    Noel Howes, ARNP $90,906
    Nicole Macri, Dir Development $74,449
    Graydon Andrus, $74,105
    Kenneth Tanzer, Dir. Info. Srvces $74,449
    Total employee compensation over $6Million
    Highest paid construction co = RAFN of BELLEVUE $1,798,664
    William Hobson 37.5 hrs/wk $104,153
    No other compensation listed.
    William Hobson 37.5 hrs/wk $83,261
    James Hofenbeck $124,045
    Highest paid contractor co = Housing Resource Group, BELLEVUE $533,562
    William Hobson 37.5 hrs/wk $81,042
    James Hofenbeck 30 hrs/wk $101,227
    Graydon Andrus 37.5 hrs/wk $64,675
    Daniel Malone 37.5 hrs/wk $64,675
    Mark Siler 37.5 hrs/wk $61,886
    Kenneth Tanzer 37.5 hrs/wk $64,675
    Source: DESC “Non-Profit” Tax Returns
    The bulk of DESC funding comes from taxpayer money.
    These are all sourced and documented facts.

  • Been There June 29, 2011 (11:29 pm)

    @Marilag – Bill Hobson stated the following within the first five minutes or so of his presentation Monday night; “If I were a betting man, this project is going through.” Hobson set the tone for the meeting with that statement, which is hardly a dialogue and good faith builder. It certainly didn’t earn my respect.

    Hobson and the Downtown Emergency Services Center were either intentionally unprepared, so as to attempt to diffuse organized opposition, or are incompetent at public outreach. Or, god forbid, they just don’t care and thought they could slide one by the “rubes” in Delridge. Whatever the case, to overlook the language barrier issue in this neighborhood is inexcusable. And DON’T try and brush it under the table. It is a BIG issue. If Hobson had taken the time post meeting to talk with the the quieter, and language challenged people in attendance, like the man seated next to me who had a hard time comprehending what was going on, he might have learned something about what kind of problems he is about to inflict on some very poor people. Instead, Hobson gravitated to the comfortable. Meaning the white folks lingering about, one of which one was a member of his own staff. This demonstrated very vividly to me the Downtown Emergency Services Center’s complete ignorance of the cultural and demographics of the neighborhood and the issues that have affected us for way to long. Leave us the efff alone for a decade or so to allow us to patch the holes in the fabric of our neighborhood. A neighborhood that has been abused for decades by speculators, a rip-off-stolen-goods-store, slum-lords, industry (you know, that big steel plant that doesn’t exactly emit essence of lavender), developers, the Seattle School District and yes, the Seattle Housing Authority and other public or non-profit agencies.

    And Marilag, how about YOU go take YOUR time and volunteer to go around to the homes and apartments and get the language information for DESC? Or how about sending some DESC staffers out to do door knocking? They get paid apparently some pretty high salaries. Don’t ask us to do your work, we have enough sh*t to deal with, thank you very much! Yeah, I am angry, and that is a completely legitimate emotion.

  • dsa June 29, 2011 (11:34 pm)

    Seems like the money could be better spent “at home”.

  • John A. Novak June 30, 2011 (7:11 am)

    @ sompthin stanks – that’s exactly how i see it too.. thanks for the info Just the facts ma’am!

    In 5 years Hobson has almost doubled his salary… that’s a fact. There should be a salary cap for nonprofit workers, this is rediculous.

    With all these other facilities going up in poorly selected locations, i’m sure the officers and directors at DESC will be due for another big raise..

  • Just the Facts Ma'am June 30, 2011 (9:17 am)

    DESC Board of Director’s and where they reside:
    Mark Sidran – Queen Anne
    Ron Wright – Bainbridge Island
    Clark Kimerer – Edmonds
    Sheryl Whitney – Mercer Island
    Bryan Friend – Laurelhurst
    Laura Inveen – upscale Capitol Hill
    Merelyn Bell – Harbour Heights Condos in Belltown
    Jeffery Grant – Burien water view home
    Christopher E. Spitterers – Greenlake
    Larry Smith – Belltown
    Richard H. Stevenson – Lake Forest Park

    • WSB June 30, 2011 (11:54 am)

      Another note about our rules: Pretending to be multiple people – particularly multiple people referring to each other’s comment as if it were made by a different person – is NOT allowed. I have just realized that’s happening here and deleted some comments as a result, particularly the latter incidence. Any more different-name comments from that IP address will not be approved for publication. We do not require real names here but once you have entered a discussion, you are required to choose one name and stick with that. Sorry I didn’t catch this sooner. Thanks. – TR

  • Just the Facts Ma'am June 30, 2011 (9:47 am)

    DESC Board of Director’s and where they reside:
    Mark Sidran – Queen Anne
    Ron Wright – Bainbridge Island
    Clark Kimerer – Edmonds
    Sheryl Whitney – Mercer Island
    Bryan Friend – Laurelhurst
    Laura Inveen – upscale Capitol Hill
    Merelyn Bell – Harbour Heights Condos in Belltown
    Jeffery Grant – Burien water view home
    Christopher E. Spitterers – Greenlake
    Larry Smith – Belltown
    Richard H. Stevenson – Lake Forest Park
    http://www.desc.org/annualreport.html (2009 Pg 3)

  • Tanya Baer June 30, 2011 (10:41 am)

    I keep thinking about how if this 75 unit bldg. goes in, then according to the statistic offered at the meeting there would only be 2 more slots of low income housing allowed in our neighborhood (we were told we have room for 77 units in our census group block, according to the city rule.) This would mean we would have no room to consider others needs, no more mixed-use bldgs. that offer varied housing options. That alone feels very limiting to me.

    I would like to see the size of this project reduced. I appreciate the expense ratio argument and believe in being cost-effective, however, I also want our neighborhood to have other options to serve other populations over time. If we “use up” all of our slots, then we can’t offer low-income housing options to others in need, even our own residents, housing options that also prevent homelessness and give families the option to thrive.

    This is sort of like putting all of our eggs in one basket. In the future, if a for-profit developer comes in and wants to put in a large complex, we won’t have bargaining room to ask for some units to be low-income, no ability to request that our actual community needs be served.

  • Rod Burke June 30, 2011 (1:09 pm)

    I was a bus driver at Metro for 15 years and I had the opportunity to drop many of the DESC inhabitants off at their new housing arrangements. To a person, they were respectful, expressed gratitude to the DESC, to Metro, to myself as a driver for giving them a chance at living in clean, well maintained apartments. They paid their fares and talked about how the places were self policed and how the DESC really put down firm, clear boundries about what was expected of them if they were to be aided by the DESC. In many instances, these were people down on their luck for whatever reason and needed a little help to get their lives together. I know a few Metro drivers who have been helped by the DESC and are now contributing, upstanding members of our community.

  • sks June 30, 2011 (3:25 pm)

    This sounds like a great organization it that has awards and respect from all kinds of people and organizations all over the city.

    HOWEVER, the match between Delridge and DESC is a terrible one. First, it is placing an at risk community on top of an at risk community. Although we are certainly experiencing a renaissance(if you don’t know that you don’t live here!), we have a ways to go. Poverty, gangs, and drugs are evident and infuse the neighborhood with their presence.

    We already have PLENTY of social services hubs here: Southwest Youth and Family Services, Youngstown, the community center, the neighborhood services center, High Point, and DSHS. It is not a good idea to keep piling on the people who need help in a neighborhood that is working so hard at trying to be a healthy, walkable, neighborhood worthy of the respect of the city and other neighborhoods. Did you know that one of the reasons the Cooper school closed is because Delridge isn’t even regarded as a “real neighborhood”?!

    We don’t have great transportation. The 120 goes downtown and is sometimes too packed to stop. Metro doesn’t even operate a bus to go up to the junction.

    We don’t have a grocery store! How can we be accused of gentrification when the neighborhood has the same number and quality of services it’s had for the past 20+ years? That’s ridiculous. We don’t have anything trendy or yuppy or expensive or artsy in Delridge. We do have a lot of activist neighbors, though. And we have a right to participate in what happens to our neighborhood.

    The Louisa Boren school, a temporary site owned by the Seattle School District is right down the street. Recently there has been talk of re-opening the site because our West Seattle schools are so packed.

    Lastly, if the DESC has to consider cost, why does it have to construct a brand new building? What about the hole that was going to be Whole Foods? That’s just sitting there. What about the dozen or so empty buildings in that same area? Why not choose a spot that is close to services and transportation and just needs to be renovated?

    It seems to me that despite the good intentions, of the DESC, the choice to be in places like Delridge and Aurora is NIMBYism itself. As far as I can tell, none of the Board members live anywhere near a DESC site themselves.

  • sks June 30, 2011 (3:30 pm)

    Right on for the list of where they live!!!

  • Brandon Node June 30, 2011 (3:40 pm)

    Those of you who throw around irrelevant information such as the salary of the DESC staff or where they live are being detrimental to the residence of North Delridge and beyond who oppose this proposed facility. This information, while admittedly it is interesting, it is not relevant to the issue at hand. This is an issue about North Delridge neighborhood and the facility being proposed and not about personal information about the DESC staff and board.

    As a resident of the North Delridge community, I opposed the proposed DESC facility on Delridge for numerous reasons. My opposition to the Proposed DESC site is the result of the following:

    • The North Delridge community does not have the essential services (walk able access to grocery stores, drug stores and medical facilities) required to effectively serve the future tenants. This requirement was echoed indirectly by Bill Hobson on Monday night, the individuals that will be housed at this facility need access to grocery store and not convenient stores. Within 1000 feet of the proposed DESC there are 3 convenient stores (two of which are at gas stations) and the nearest grocery store is over 2 miles away with no direct bus access.

    • North Delridge is a marginally stable neighborhood, but it is not stable. While personally I feel, beside for a few hot-spots that all neighborhoods have, this is a safe neighborhood with a high quality, I also feel with the high number of rental properties, this could change on a dime.

    • The Density of the proposed facility, 75 units. North Delridge is primarily a single family or town home community with a few expectations. Across the street from the DESC proposed are two housing complexes. One is condominiums with 18 units and the second is low income apartments with 19 units. The only apartment complex near this site (about 2 blocks away) that exceeds the 75 units is the Seattle Housing Authority Long Fellow Creek Apartments with 83 units (across the street from the Boren School), but it is on just over 2 acres verse the 10K square feet of this site. If North Delridge had more high density housing facility to absorb the influx of this population with “serious issue” (Hobson), this would not be an issues, but North Delridge does not have that density.

    While some of you, including friends and neighbors feel North Delridge is a good location for this facility, one question keeps resurfacing: Is North Delridge the best place to serve both the short and long term needs of the population to be housed at this DESC facility?

  • Tanya Baer June 30, 2011 (4:05 pm)

    [“caring” = being more concerned about property values than human values.]

    I’d like to offer in response to this proposed definition (see earlier comment) that I did not hear anyone express concern about property values in the meeting on Monday night, and after reading through these extensive comments, I still do not perceive this as a core issue. I understand that it *may* be a subtext, but I don’t think it accurately speaks to the central concerns of neighbors.

    I stayed after the meeting and continued in some discussions with DESC staff outside of the library. I witnessed Mr. Hobson express to a neighbor that everything he heard in the meeting he has heard before. According to him, every concern was identical to other neighborhoods concerns. He then quickly listed them; “concern for safety, for crime, for future grown of the area, for property values…” Wait. No one said anything about property values in the meeting. Now it seemed that he was simply “reciting” an answer, not really listening or engaged in the conversation. Equally, even if it is accurate that the concerns expressed Monday night are identical to those expressed by other neighborhoods, does that make them any less valuable? Are neighbors concerns so easily discounted? It seems that a model of working through concerns, even if DESC has “determined” them ultimately unwarranted, is called for.

    I support DESC’s overall intention and feel that we must, as a society and in our community, provide for one another, and for those with greater needs than our own. If I were to apply the word “caring” to DESC however, I would say that I did not feel that neighbors were “cared” about in the meeting on Monday night. Yes, DESC does cares for the population they serve, and rightly so, but extending that care to neighbors who have genuine concerns is warranted as well.

    If I were to offer a definition of “caring”, I might define it as (specific to this issue) the willingness to consider the needs of others, to genuinely engage, to acknowledge the myriad of needs of those involved. Of course, this applies to both fellow neighbors and to DESC staff and project funders.

  • Barba Kutzner June 30, 2011 (11:37 pm)

    As someone who is familiar with the mentally ill demographic that self-medicate I do agree that the facility proposed will not do anything good for West Seattle, the reason being that the people that will live in this facility will be from other areas, and will continue to use illegal drugs and alcohol. They are not coming here for rehabilition, only for free housing. This is a great way to destroy a neighborhood, making it unsafe for children and adults, and creating a high maintenance security situation also forcing the police to be doing care-taking duty. These people will also be using hospital emergency facilities for their health care needs. Nothing about this facility tells me that the people there are getting any help with their issues, and some of these people will be, and make no mistake about this, people with criminal records including rape and possibly murder. With mental illness thrown in, there is just nothing about this idea that is going to be healthy.

  • crash a-ron July 1, 2011 (12:39 am)

    My wife and I live closer to this proposed warehouse than anyone else. We sleep every night about 25ft from what will be a vertical 40-45ft wall 200 ft long. It is the scale that is most disturbing to us. 75 units and 4 stories high is too much. Even today at the height of summer, out house would be completely shaded by 4:30pm. The neighbors around DESC’s Columbia City warehouse managed to get the size reduced. We must fight the DESC, the city, and the county!

    DESC is already working on plans for construction and filing for grants, so we must hurry. Don’t forget that the money to build their monolith comes from the city-same city that closed a city office in the Junction because it was “too expensive”! This place will be built with YOUR MONEY, so let’s make sure we can affect what gets built.

    The Delridge Monolith will be the largest structure south of that office building with the huge American flag, and their last one cost something like 15 million to build. “Economy of scale” is what Bill said, but they reduced the size of the Columbia City structure by something like 20 units.

    It is time to stop bickering and get to work-united not divided. I propose a neighborhood meeting to plan a defense. Anyone interested?

  • crash a-ron July 1, 2011 (12:44 am)

    Might I suggest a better site to the DESC staff that are reading this?


  • Been There July 1, 2011 (11:07 am)

    We have heard a lot about how supposed low land values are the reason that the Downtown Emergency Services Center projects have been built in primarily poor neighborhoods. I don’t accept that. I believe these sites are chosen specifically because they are home to the least powerful and therefor it is thought they will be unable to push-back.

    The implosion of both the residential and commercial property bubble has changed things dramatically in terms of land values around the city. A quick cursory online check found these parcels For Sale. All are similar in cost/size range and zoning as the Delridge Way site that the DESC is trying to move forward with.

    Here is a nice 5,000 sq. ft. parcel zoned NC2-40site in Magnolia Village: http://windermerecommercial.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=comListing.ListingDetail&ListingID=105717
    Or how about this massive 21,000 sq. ft. raw land parcel in Interbay on the western slope of Queen Anne: http://windermerecommercial.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=comListing.ListingDetail&ListingID=101649
    7,200 sq. ft. of NC3-40 land in Queen Anne: http://windermerecommercial.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=comListing.ListingDetail&ListingID=100795
    And in the heart of Madrona a really nice opportunity with the MUP already to go. All it would take is some plan/permit modification and it would be ready to build: http://windermerecommercial.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=comListing.ListingDetail&ListingID=51057

    These projects that serve the highest of needs, at-risk, addicted or seriously mentally ill population need to be shared by all neighborhoods and regions of the city, not just plopped down in the far flung, poor and challenged ones who have the least ability to accommodate them and are certainly not the best places for the individuals needing help to get proper modeling and protection.

  • Sage July 1, 2011 (1:02 pm)

    It is amazing how many experts on real-estate development, service-enhanced housing, addiction, and mental-illness apparently live in the area immediately surrounding the project site — who knew! From the sound of it, a lot more expertise concentrated in the neighborhood than in any of the agencies that actually provide housing. It’s just too bad these skills had gone untapped until now — could have been put to a higher use than this vitriol, don’t you think?

  • Michael July 1, 2011 (1:30 pm)

    Word is starting to come in on increased crime and street drug use around other DESC sites.
    Maybe we should start “caring” about our neighborhood now?

  • Been There July 1, 2011 (2:06 pm)

    @Sage-Many of us posting here live and have been working on issues in this neighborhood for a long time. If you haven’t noticed either you don’t live here or, you have been uninvolved.

  • Paul July 1, 2011 (3:18 pm)

    JoAnne – please see asterisks where errors in your thinking is highlighted below…

    This is a terrible program that hands out free housing

    ***it’s not free- they pay 30% of meager disability income for rent.
    to drug-using mentally ill people and requires absolutely nothing from them in return.

    ***they’re not all drug using, and they often participate in treatment for drugs/alcohol and for mental illness.

    Contrast this program with Habit for Humanity, where volunteers work alongside clients, who are required to contribute several hundred hours of labor to their houses, which are not entirely free.
    *** Apples and oranges – DESC targets folks who are not capable of this level of functioning due to mental illness and/or physical disability.

    Even a mentally ill person can make a decision to avoid drugs and alcohol, but this program doesn’t even ask for basic sobriety.

    ***Even non-mentally ill people oftentimes struggle to make a decision to avoid drugs/alcohol. Add-on excruciating psychiatric pain that wants relief now, then (maybe) you can imagine their challenge (if you try a little harder).

    The DESC has no respect for these people whatsoever and considers them animals with no control over themselves. Expectations could not possibly be lower.

    ***DESC is trying to help eliminate the animal existence of homelessness by providing housing with tools to increase self-sufficiency.

    As for all the oversight that is promised, ask anyone who has experience with a mentally ill drug/alchol user. He/she will tell you these promises mean nothing. Violence can occur at any time, and if it hasn’t happened at a DESC housing site (which I don’t believe) then they have been very lucky so far.

    ***You have admit that intensive 24 hr staffing means something, rather than nothing, towards the preservation of peace, order, well-being!

    This program measures its success in terms of an increased demand for services, not in terms of folks graduating to a more self-sufficient or responsible lifestyle…”if you build it they will come.”
    ***This is non-sensical. Where do you see DESC attempting to increase demand by creating homelessness in order to house them?

    It’s a disaster from start to finish.
    ***I think you’re coming at this issue with a bias that prevents you from seeing the start and finish in an objective way.

    Comment by JoAnne — June 28, 11 12:23 am #

  • WendyHJ July 1, 2011 (5:16 pm)

    Where’s the *LIKE* button on this, Paul? Good objectiveness, thanks for sharing.

  • Delridgian July 2, 2011 (12:40 am)

    Well, talked things over with a few neighbors. We are going to start researching legal efforts to block this from happening. I am going to establish a website with info shortly.

    • WSB July 2, 2011 (8:06 am)

      So those checking in on this thread know – there is now an informational page for this project on the DESC website. There had not been one before – we’ve checked repeatedly, going back to when we first heard about the proposal at the NDNC meeting earlier this month; our standing Google Alerts picked it up as having just appeared on the web in the past 24 hours or so. I’m writing a separate item about it this morning as well: http://www.desc.org/Delridge_Supportive_Housing.html – it includes a link to an informational sheet that I believe was handed out at Monday’s meeting. There is nothing earthshaking or new on this page; this is just an FYI – TR

  • Liberal Warrior July 2, 2011 (3:00 am)

    I’ve been following this for a while and the comments, and feel compelled to chime in, this kinda smacks on the downtown’s way of handling the WTO, where the police pushed protesters up to residential areas to keep downtown safe for tourism. Delridge is a low income area of town, no ones got any political connections, lets dump downtown’s problems over there, considering the homeless don’t seek out rural areas in general, all the access to resources is where people congregate en masse i.e. downtown. Delridge does not have much in the way of resources. Thus DESC should focus on D, reads to me their out of their depth and lost their way. If this DESC was green they’d take over a building (retrofit) in this depressed commercial property market. None available? Hogwash!!!!! Why are they starting from scratch with a new building? All this public money, lets spread it around to our contractor friends. Seems more a for profit than Non, looking at the map the other poster posted it’s pretty translucent these buildings are going into areas where no one is going to bark at it. I’ve worked with DD adults up on Aurora, I had one smear feces in a bathroom, the best modeling behavior was to let him know normal people that didn’t live in group home type situations, didn’t engage in that type of behavior. It never happened again the whole time I worked there, and it was a 24:1 client staff ratio. 75 people in one building? That’s creating a feedback chamber. In Delridge? That’s a feedback chamber within a feedback chamber, and your supposed to be helping these homeless people? Seems like they’re dumping them.

  • Mc July 2, 2011 (10:01 am)

    RE comment by ‘crash a-ron’:

    “Might I suggest a better site to the DESC staff that are reading this?

    Ah, NO, this would NOT be a better site. It’s an area that desperately needs more services – NOT more issues.
    -Area that has improved immensely, however is still fragile.
    -NO SERVICES: yea a drug store (big deal), besides the crack-mart next door on the cor of Morgan 35th (perfect!)
    -LIMITED transportation options (public): metro 21

    Again, this project belongs in an area that can meet the needs. The “best” location for something like this in West Seattle is the Junction/Triangle area – but perhaps in 5 years, or so. (Yea, how about the “hole”???)

    I hope this is just the tip-of-the-iceberg to opposing the proposed location…

  • JoAnne July 2, 2011 (8:08 pm)

    * Paying 30% of a check that is handed to you for free, in exchange for you doing nothing, is the same as paying nothing.

    * H for H has plenty of clients who have been homeless AND mentally ill. The difference is, H for H expects something in return for its handouts.

    * Mentally ill people can work, and in cases where they are expected to, they often will work. Very few are so severely ill that they can contribute nothing to their own upkeep.

    And if they are so gravely disabled that they cannot not work, why is DESC giving them the responsibility of maintaining a home? Wouldn’t an institutional setting be more appropriate for someone that sick?

    * Look at DESC website and you will see them go on and on about how their program is expanding. Do you supposes that expanding the program is not a goal of theirs?

    * DESC and Seattle Housing clients are NOT only local residents. They come from all over the country for the free handout because it’s FREE.
    Talk to some of them and find out for yourself.

    * Ergo, neither DESC nor its clients have any “skin in the game” in terms of the Delridge community or any other community in which these projects are placed.

  • Larry July 5, 2011 (10:55 am)

    Commenters here on WS blog keep referencing “data” and “extensive research” with no facts to back up their specious reasoning, or blindly defer to DESC’s experienced wisdom in the matter. I’m fed up with the whole matter!  The answer I got in terms of crime rates, from Mr. Hobson at the delridge library meeting, was that it was statistically insignificant.  Well, that’s just incorrect. Here’s a link with some “extensive research” conducted in Denver on supportive housing, from it we can draw how the crime element in our neighborhood WILL be predatory towards DESC’s clients (and crime will increase), which further lends credence to our communities argument against DESC’s placement of its facility. The report also concludes that when these facilities reach the capacity of 53 units, there is a significant impact on crime within 500 feet, I live within that area. I may not be an expert but i can read  and analyze a sincere and thoughtful study of common sense. I can only conclude, that the fast tracking of  DESC’s proposed facility of 75 units is a dubious plan. 


  • Rondi July 5, 2011 (4:10 pm)

    Check out the Seattle Chanel’s Inside/Out program from May 6, 2011. You can get this program from off their website or on “On Demand.” Bill Hobson is one of the guests. This is a program about the city moving the chronically homeless from downtown to the residential neighborhoods because as Bill Hobson says that their clients need safe, stable neighborhoods to live in. Now this program was brought about by those of us in Ballard not only fighting an 80-unit Compass House facility such as this but a proposed LIHI project that will house 50 low income families (not a problem with neighborhood) but they want to put in a Urban Rest Stop on the bottom floor. The Urban Rest Stop downtown services 500-800 homeless people a day. And the proposed site is on 20th & 57th in the middle of a residential neighborhood. A lawsuit is pending on the Compass House facility — but according to Mayor McGinn, if a permit is applied for on a piece of property, there is no stopping the development of that project. The city is in the process of redeveloping Pioneer Square and that they are tired of the homeless in Pioneer Square and the rest of the neighborhoods need to share in the problem. I for one didn’t opt to move to Pioneer Square with its problems, I moved to Ballard 26 years ago and don’t feel its fair for the City to move the homeless to Ballard. But, according to these agencies — the land is too expensive downtown. So there is an 80-unit building we are fighting, DESC’s 87 unit building on 105th & Aurora, now Catholic Community Services wants to build a 71 unit facility on 42nd and Aurora (Fremont), LIHI’s 50 unit facility in Ballard plus the Urban Rest Stop and now I see this one in Delridge.

    The Seattle neighborhoods need to address this issue with the City Council — we need district elections so that we have a City Council person speaking on our behalf. The City Council as it now stands supports any and all building of these facilities regardless of what type of neighborhood has been chosen — except of course Magnolia, Upper Queen Anne, Laurelhurs, Mt. Baker, Wedgewood and those neighborhoods with money to fight these so called supportive housing facilities.

    Did you get anything out of Hobson as if these programs worked? Of course not. And yes the study from the Urban Institute is great but Hobson won’t acknowledge that either.

    Again, check out the Seattle Channel program.

  • bbilly July 6, 2011 (7:04 pm)

    Despite all the rancor, I’m glad to see so many people taking an active interest in this neighborhood. When I moved to Delridge 6 years ago, it felt more like a neighborhood that had given up. I’ve loved watching that change.

    I support the project and don’t have any sense that I can change the minds of people who don’t support it. At the same time, I can certainly understand the frustration of someone like a-ron and probably would feel the same if I were in his shoes.

    I live very close to the proposed site and realize that it could greatly impact my family’s day to day life as well as the value of our home. Still, I support DESC moving into this location. I am hopeful the positive impact will outweigh the negative.

    I’ve been wary about commenting here because the emotions are running so high. Ultimately, I felt it was important to comment since I live less than 200 feet from the property and I do support the DESC proposal. Thanks to everyone for their research and opinions. Thanks especially to WSB for this forum.

  • Proud Nimby July 7, 2011 (2:24 pm)

    “When I moved to Delridge 6 years ago, it felt more like a neighborhood that had given up.”

    If DESC’s proposed facility comes to fruition you can bet on having that warm fuzzy feeling again.

    “I support the project and don’t have any sense”

    I concur.

    “I live very close to the proposed site and realize that it could greatly impact my family’s day to day life”

    Strike “could” and supplant with “will”. Actually READ the Urban Institute study from the other comment, and try to absorb it. If you need help deciphering the formulas they use in their analysis, I’d be happy to help. In the face of overwhelming evidence, I’m sorry that you’re still willing to subject your family to DESC’s already tested petri dish.(Once again really read that study they did in Denver. I did a few times, eye opening stuff keeping in mind our low income area) I’m trying to remember that saying about; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    “the value of our home”

    I really hope you don’t manage anyone’s retirement account. This is the argument DESC will use against our community to pigeon hole us as nimbys, I eschew that straw man. All the neighbors I have talked to, and at the Delridge Library meeting realize that is NOT the issue. Feel free to deny your innate human wiring for self preservation, it’s amazing if your genes have indeed propagated in this pool. Methinks your post is but the pablum of a claque.

    “I am hopeful the positive impact will outweigh the negative.”

    Hope is for dopes, and the last refuge of the fool.

    “Thanks to everyone for their research and opinions. Thanks especially to WSB for this forum.”

    In sum you want to pithily conclude the matter by trying to achieve a positive ‘last word’ status. Denied.

  • Tanya Baer July 11, 2011 (12:38 pm)

    I’ve been thinking about how many people have needs in our city and thought how interesting it would be (although I understand that this is not how we proceed with projects in our society) if an organization came to a community and said something to the effect of “your neighborhood has been selected as a prime spot to build a housing development to serve an at-risk population.” Perhaps a discussion with the community with questions such as: Who do you think we should serve? What needs do the people living in this area have? What are your values as a community and what model would be most impactful? Imagine the synergy that could evolve from such an approach.

    I, for one, would prefer to see a small shelter serving mothers and children – just because that is where my personal interests lie and because I think the preschool, library, and surrounding parks are ideal for that population (although is should be noted that we are still lacking in key amenities.)

    I understand that this in not the situation we are faced with here. A specific organization with a specific mission has selected our neighborhood. But still, aren’t there key questions we might engage? How can a shelter thrive in our community? What are our community’s greatest needs? What are the values of our community? How do we wish to serve those that need support? How can those needing support receive it and simultaneously, how can our neighborhood thrive? Is there room to consider balance in how this project is approached?

    I know such questions will not go anywhere without a mutual conversation, by all parties. I urge DESC and project funders to engage with the neighborhood and for neighbors to forge the way to finding solid and sincere answers to these kinds of questions.

Sorry, comment time is over.