Urban Rest Stop comes under fire

The people behind a proposed low income housing development in Ballard quickly lost control of a community meeting Wednesday night as residents demanded answers about plans to bring an Urban Rest Stop to the neighborhood. Instead of starting with a formal presentation on the design of the building, organizers were forced to scrap their agenda to answer a barrage of questions from about three dozen concerned neighbors.

“Is this a done deal or can we fight it,” said one resident.


Urban Rest Stop program manager Ronni Gilboa speaks to the crowd

The Urban Rest Stop, which would be on street level of the building at 2014 NW 57th Street, is part of the project proposed by the Low Income Housing Institute. The building’s upper floors would be home to up to 60 units of low income housing, with 20 percent set aside for the homeless.  Wednesday night, we learned the specifics of what the Urban Rest Stop portion of the facility would include:

  • Operating hours of 6am to 2pm (Mon-Fri only)
  • 75 to 100 people expected each day
  • 5 shower rooms
  • Laundry area
  • Health room

Ronni Gilboa, the program manager for the downtown Urban Rest Stop, explained that the proposed facility in Ballard would basically be a place for people to come in and clean up to start the day with showers and laundry.  Gilboa said 60 percent of people who use the downtown facility are employed, but only at minimum wage.

“It’s really boring.  People come in to take care of themselves,” Gilboa told the crowd.  The organizers also said that Ballard was currently underserved by low income housing with many people being pushed out of the neighborhood by skyrocketing home prices and rent.

But many in the audience, including a group of people who live in the area near the proposed building, say they have concerns about what happens when the rest stop isn’t open.  They worry about lines forming outside the building in the overnight hours as the homeless wait for the rest stop to open. 

“You have no way to protect us when you’re not open,” said one member of the audience.

Others questioned if Ballard really needed a facility like this, especially in a residential area.

“It seems like you’re bombarding Ballard,” one man told the crowd.

“There are about five cars of people that camp on that street.  I would like to know how having an urban rest stop on a residential block, not Market, helps rather than exacerbates homeless camping on this residential block,” said one neighbor.


Proposed site at 2014 NW 57th St.

But some did speak in favor of the development, including a former employee of the Ballard library and a downtown resident who says she’s invested in some Ballard condos.

“I’d say Ballard has the most pervasive homeless population of any community in Seattle except for the central library.  I know people are concerned. I’m not a resident of Ballard, but in terms of a need it’s pretty apparent to people who work in the library that there are homeless people here all the time and there’s definitely a need for a rest stop,” said the library employee.

“I had more problems with the party people,” said the downtown resident who used to live in Belltown.  “Over where I’m at right now with Urban Rest Stop right next door, there’s an orderliness,” the downtown resident said.

Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute, said the property has not been purchased yet.  LIHI will be depending on a mix of private funding and government programs.  She says they currently have no plans to proceed with the development unless the Urban Rest Stop is included.  Lee told the audience that more community meetings will be planned as the project moves forward.

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Fourier02
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Fourier02

The meeting was very telling. The facts-&-figures that LIHI presented were at odds with those brought by the Ballard residents. (A perfect example of Mark Twain’s “Lies, damned lies & statistics.”)

For me, the chilling omen was how completely unhinged Ms. Gilboa became when a resident near the proposed Urban Reststop site asked if she herself lived near one (she never did answer). I thought it was a fair question, as the residents are being told to shut-up and like it, but it became a category five ad-hominem hurricane. It really clarified what the residents are up against.

I probably don’t have a dog in this fight. I live far enough away from the site, and I’ll likely end up being transferred for work well before the thing is built. However, I do feel for the people who will take a hit if this thing becomes reality. And I sure would hate to come back for a visit in ten years to find that Ballard has become Seattle’s skid row.

Good luck!

champ
Guest
champ

“is this a done deal or can we fight it?” weellllll myballard, a thrilling quote, but the answer to that question would be wonderful…

matthew
Guest
matthew

NIMBY rears its ugly head. Do people really think they need “protection” from the homeless?

Bark More, Wag Less
Guest
Bark More, Wag Less

“I’m not a resident of Ballard”

THanks, that’s all I needed to hear.

Bark more, wag less
Guest
Bark more, wag less

It’s not just the homeless, it’s the homeless plus all the hanger’s on. Go hang out at Pike Place and Steinbrueck Park after dark, check out the dope dealing, dozens of homeless and street thugs mixing it up.

Dangerous? Well, shootings and stabbings happen all the time. It’s not just the homeless, its the thugs who take sell them drugs and hustle with them.

yep
Guest
yep

can you cite any “facts & figures that L1H1 presented…at odds with ballard residents?”

I think whether Ms. Gilboa lives near an urban rest stop herself is besides the point. Sounds like this bombardbment of questions rattled her.

off topic, but can we use another metaphor than “having a dog in this fight”
I mean, who are you, Michael Vick?

Andy
Guest
Andy

” completely unhinged Ms. Gilboa”

Truth hurts.

Priscilla
Guest
Priscilla

Please go to the current Urban Rest Stop and see what goes on there. It’s an awesome place and most of the people who use it are employed people who are also homeless. They are providing a needed service and the people who use it are productive people in our city. Social services shouldn’t be concentrated in one area but spread throughout the city and this is a good first step. Ronni is a terribly dedicated person devoted to the needs of the under-served. Ballard is teeming with people living in their cars, if they had regular access to personal hygiene perhaps more would have access to employment and break the cycle of homelessness. Get off your computer, go down to the Urban Rest Stop downtown, and realize this organization did what the city couldn’t pull off on their own. Take some soap or shampoo and you’ll become a regular donor to this awesome organization. I’ve been proud donor for ten years. Hope when you go there the volunteer who cuts hair it’s something to see how many people’s needs are served with dignity daily. Your stereotypes of who this service serves will be blown and your heart may well… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

Do you live in Ballard near the proposed site?

And yes, I’ve seen the downtown location. Nice, quiet desolated and isolated part of Seattle, not near single family homes and areas teeming with drunk vagrants.

Kells
Guest
Kells

While this sounds like a great organization providing much-needed services, the nearby property owners’ concerns are legitimate and shouldn’t be written off as selfish nimby-ism. I’d imagine it’s not fear of the homeless, but fear of their property values further declining. All of us home-owners have had a rough year (fyi, I live in Ballard but not near this site). Who here would honestly purchase a house next-door or across the street from an Urban Rest Stop? As others have pointed out, I think LIHI would have little to no push-back from Ballard residents if their proposed project was located in a commercial zone.

Stupid Hippie
Guest
Stupid Hippie

It takes a village to build a skid row….

anyonecanbecomehomeless
Guest
anyonecanbecomehomeless

Well said, Priscilla. I don’t think people realize that many homeless people living in Ballard go completely unseen. It’s the 10 or 20 folks hanging out on Market Street that most people think of as “the homeless” because they fit the stereotype of what homeless is. There are untold numbers of people who are trying to get their lives together but don’t have the resources for a place to live. Instead, they stay in their cars and have to get creative when searching for a place to clean up. What happens to any of us if we lose our job, our spouse leaves us, we get injured, etc.? Homelessness is not just the few people hanging out at the library or the park. You don’t see most of them, because they are not proud of the fact that they’re living in their car on a sidestreet and washing up at the convenience store bathroom.

Stapler
Guest
Stapler

reading the entire article would help you:

“said the property has not been purchased yet. LIHI will be depending on a mix of private funding and government programs. She says they currently have no plans to proceed with the development unless the Urban Rest Stop is included. Lee told the audience that more community meetings will be planned as the project moves forward.”

Stapler
Guest
Stapler

so only single family homes can be classified as residences? Yesterday I listed the number of residential highrises, daycares and schools in the area that I could remember and that was by no means an exhaustive list.

I have no idea how you can call that area desolated (sic) and isolated. You’re simply not paying attention.

Guest
Guest
Guest

It’s a lot easier to piss into a single family home than 20th floor condo.

Mallard
Guest
Mallard

Yes, you are right and I whole-heartedly agree with you. I just know you are going to get push-back about the commercial comment because truly, the lot is zoned Neighborhood Commercial 3 (I think – NC of some kind). Maybe we need to start by getting this rezoned to just multifamily or something. How does that happen?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I saw that Mythbusters too

quietliberalscan
Guest
quietliberalscan

Interesting that NIMBY has become a bad word. NIBMY attitudes have protected a great number of stupid things from being forced down the throats of citizens and homowners in neighborhoods across the US. Embrace your NIBMY attitudes, Ballardites. It might just save our neighborhood from becoming Seattle’s dumping ground for a much larger issue at hand overall. Seattle has a homeless problem. Using Ballard as the hub for homeless social services is not a solution – it’s a band aid that could ruin our neighborhood. Have some good sense and fight this stupidity. You have that right.

Bark More, Wag Less
Guest
Bark More, Wag Less

Where she lives is very much to the point. Many of these so-call homeless advocates live in areas that would never allow skid rows to be developed like they are in Ballard. The only ‘Ronni Gilboa’ I can find in Seattle lives in Maple Leaf. I guess it makes it easier to be a bleeding heart when it’s not your neighborhood they want to trash.

Nwcitizen
Guest
Nwcitizen

I agree, LIHI needs to have a conversation with nearby homeowners to address their concerns. I was at the meeting and it sounded like Sharon Lee was very willing to do that.

Bark More, Wag Less
Guest
Bark More, Wag Less

No one said they aren’t different types of homeless, but this kind of facility will attract the good and the bad and it’s the bad who will make the biggest impact.

Again, go hang out in Steinbrueck Park after dark if you want to see what ‘tolerance’ gets you. Hope you don’t get stabbed.

Barfly
Guest
Barfly

Exactly, I’m NIMBY and proud. Don’t like NIMBYs? Go live in a crime ridden, garbage strewn, sh*tty neighborhood and enjoy your neighbors who don’t give a damn.

Barfly
Guest
Barfly

Only one concern, no cleaning station. Not much room for debate.

Sean P.
Guest
Sean P.

Does Seattle have any agencies providing services to the homeless under the assumption that people generally become homeless for reasons far more complicated than “a random spell of bad luck”? Surely someone out there in the non-profit world has given more than two seconds of thought to the root causes of the problem.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Serious question. What is the success rate of these facilities? Are there statistics that show a certain percentage of users eventually supporting themselves? Is this a temporary step for people to pull their lives together and move forward? Or does it become more of an enabler, allowing people to depend on it indefinitly?