Grace Lutheran Church plans to build a cluster of 12 cottages on its property across from Washington Elementary to house homeless students attending Wenatchee Valley College.
The church is in the “moderate residential” zoning district where cottage housing is permitted and the project could proceed as planned without a conditional use permit according to Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz.
“It’s not a matter of land use, not something the hearings reviewer would see, not something that would come before this council, really in any way, shape or form,” Kuntz responded to the concerns raised by neighbors last Thursday. city council meeting after receiving several emails. “I’m trying to be as candid as possible with the neighbors who basically want us to shut it down…and this approval process won’t go past not just this body, but even our hearings reviewer”
“Our only frustration comes from not being able to get the information we need to have an open conversation with the church and its board about what it is, what their intention is and what the impact may be on the surrounding neighborhood,” Dustin said. Boreson, owner nearby. “The neighborhood surrounding GLC is very passionate about the subject and believes that we should tackle homelessness in our community. The only thing we dispute at this point is the “how?”.
Grace Lutheran board member John McQuaig told KPQ Radio that the church approached the city to see if it could do the project, then asked the congregation in December if there was consensus. to go forward. Another congregational vote was scheduled for Sunday on whether to proceed. McQuaig said a subcommittee has been formed and plans to meet with neighbors in February to get feedback.
Boreson says the church has allowed homeless people to stay on the property in the past and individuals have lit campfires on the sidewalk and owners had to clean up feces in their front yard and found used condoms and paraphernalia for drug use, including needles. McQuaig says GLC has not had a policy of allowing homeless people to stay on church property and has attempted to remove people from their property.
Grace Lutheran is located at the corner of Washington Street and Elliott Avenue. The proposed cabins would be located at the north end of the parking lot. The chalets would include a kitchen, bathrooms and laundry in each unit connected to electricity, water and sewage. .
Wenatchee Valley College President Jim Richardson released a statement after concerns about the project were passed on to the college.
“WVC works with homeless students to help them find shelter either on campus (the Fifth Street residence hall) or through various community agencies.
We did not seek assistance from Grace Lutheran Church. They asked us for information and data on homeless students and other WVC students in need of housing. Besides providing public data, the college has had limited discussions with the church about student homelessness. WVC was not involved in their decision to move forward with housing. WVC has no say in what they will do with the accommodation on their land. »
The college provided survey data from 2019 that included WVC student participation
40% of respondents experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days
47% of respondents have experienced housing insecurity in the past year
20% of respondents have been homeless in the past year
60% of Wenatchee Valley College students have experienced at least one of these forms of basic needs insecurity in the past year.