Council Roundup: Update on homelessness in Bellevue

Council Roundup: Update on homelessness in Bellevue
Posted on 10/12/2017

On Monday evening, the City Council was presented with a general update on homelessness in Bellevue and the greater Eastside. Like many other cities across our region, the issue of homelessness has become increasingly visible. Bellevue has continued to ramp up its efforts over the last decade, balancing strategies that are compassionate, pragmatic and ensure public safety.

The update included an overview of data gathered by the recent Count Us In, a point-in-time count of individuals experiencing homelessness in King County. In 2017, the recorded number of unsheltered individuals on the Eastside increased to 284, up from 245 the previous year. Shelters reported increased needs across all populations, including single men, single women, families and youth. Since there were significant changes in count methodology for this year’s Point-In-Time Count, caution is advised in noting trends from previous years, with 2017 establishing a new baseline for King County.

Bellevue is part of King County’s All Home Initiative which is focused on making homelessness rare, brief and one-time. The city addresses the challenge by taking a collaborative and coordinated approach, not only across city services, but with our regional partners. Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah and King County collaborate to provide coordinated human services across the Eastside.

Monday’s briefing is part of an ongoing series of discussions related to homelessness. Several additional elements will be addressed by the council in the coming months and year ahead. Next week, councilmembers could take action on permanent legislation to prohibit safe injection sites citywide. Then, on Oct. 23, the council is tentatively scheduled to discuss code amendments related to RV and car camping.

For more information on Bellevue’s homelessness outreach and human services programs, visit the city’s website.

Property tax impacts

Councilmembers were also briefed on the impact on Bellevue property owners from action taken this year by the State Legislature. King County Assessor John Wilson and Bellevue School District Deputy Superintendent Melissa deVita were on hand to provide context.

In June, the Legislature adopted Engrossed House Bill 2242 aimed at fully funding basic K-12 education statewide. The new law increased the state share of property tax by 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and placed limits on the amount districts can collect through maintenance and operation levies.

Nearly every property taxpayer in King County will see an increase in their 2018 property taxes. However, in 2019, property owners living in areas with lower assessed values will see a decrease, possibly below the 2017 amount. In areas with higher assessed values, like Bellevue, those rates will likely be below 2018 but above 2017 amounts.

Assessor Wilson noted in his presentation that the increased reliance on property taxes and how it could erode the willingness of voters to approve ballot measures for other local issues over time. He also said that 2018 tax bills will go out in mid-February.

Councilmembers expressed concerns on a number of issues, from public awareness about the state property tax increase to affordable housing and the future of stable funding for government services.

Additional information on Bellevue’s property tax allocation can be found on the city’s Finance Department web page. To learn more about property tax collection and assessment, visit the King County Assessor’s site.

More background:

Economic Development team briefing

The council wrapped up the night with a comprehensive briefing on the city’s economic development efforts. The team continued to make strides on several fronts. Highlights for the last two quarters include:

  • Providing technical assistance to 31 local companies.
  • Providing workshops for 129 community members interested in starting a business for the first time.
  • Following up on 35 leads and five prospects, including two internal businesses, interested in locating to Bellevue.
  • Ongoing work on Creative Edge, a joint initiative with the Arts Program aimed at strengthening the city’s creative economy. The strategy is expected to be completed in March of 2018.

Councilmembers were also given the results of the 2017 Bellevue Business Survey. The survey, conducted every two years, assists in economic development’s goal of providing a healthy and vibrant business environment. Overall, 70 percent of businesses felt that the Bellevue is a “somewhat” or “significantly” better place to operate in comparison to other cities. As for drawbacks, concerns largely echoed residents, with traffic, taxes, parking, and housing and commercial space affordability topping the list.

More details on the survey and Office of Economic Development programs can be found in the agenda packet.

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