• Council Roundup: Homelessness outreach and support work update

    Published September 10 2021

    Plus, economic development snapshot and Transportation Commission appointment 

    On Monday, the City Council received an update on Bellevue’s homelessness outreach program, including successes, challenges and ongoing work to connect those impacted to supportive services.

    During the 2020 Point in Time count, more than 1,000 people were counted as homeless on the Eastside. The Bellevue School District reported 375 homeless youth attending school in the district during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    The city is investing in facilities such as shelters, transitional housing and affordable housing units for those living in vehicles or unsheltered in the community. When people experiencing homelessness are contacted by law enforcement and outreach staff for unlawful camping or parking, they are connected to supportive services that address their barriers to housing. Bellevue funds community organizations providing these services and coordinates closely between the agencies and internal city staff such as the Bellevue Fire CARES program and the homelessness outreach coordinator. The city also coordinates with other regional cities and with King County’s regional homelessness plan.

    In 2020, Bellevue’s homelessness outreach staff helped 29 people achieve stable housing and have housed 18 people so far in 2021. The city’s program also involves broader community engagement and outreach within neighborhoods. A new reporting function in the MyBellevue app lets community members request city support to respond and assist homeless residents. 

    Finally, the report noted that affordable housing, especially in the lowest income brackets, is critical to help individuals transition out of homelessness and maintain housing. In Bellevue there are currently 335 regulated housing units for people making 0-30% of the area’s median income but 5,670 households in that income range. 

    The full presentation is available in the meeting materials.

    Economic Development snapshot

    Councilmembers also received a second quarter progress report on the city’s economic development activities. The analysis included continuing positive trends or stability for a number of key recovery indicators including unemployment, hotel occupancy and small business establishments. 

    Among several focus areas for the city are support mechanisms to bolster business recovery as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. StartUp425 is hosting an upcoming digital marketing workshop after seeing that businesses without a digital presence are faring much worse through the pandemic. The city is also exploring programs to use federal funding for business recovery that include low-cost loan options and rent relief, particularly for small businesses in certain sectors hard-hit by the pandemic. In a recent survey, three-quarters of small businesses reported finding it difficult or very difficult to afford their commercial rent. More than half said their debt load was higher this year. 

    In other trends, the technology industry remains strong and growing in the Bellevue area and the Global Innovation Exchange in the Spring District continues its work to bring innovative startups and tech companies to the area and to develop and refine 5G partnership advancements with the city and other stakeholders. Continued focus areas in the coming months will be tourism, managing job growth and supporting housing production.   

    The full presentation and discussion is available on Bellevue Television replay.

    Transportation Commission appointment

    In other business, the council approved an appointment to the city’s Transportation Commission brought forth by Councilmember Jennifer Robertson as council liaison to the commission. The council appoints residents to boards, commissions and committees that provide detailed study and recommendations on important policy matters.

    Brad Helland will serve a partial term on the Transportation Commission expiring May 31, 2024, in position No. 5. More information on the selection process is available on the city’s Boards and Commissions web page.