Community Post

Felon housing update: agreement to work on agreement

Although there was still a surplus of mistrust and fear in last night’s meeting on the proposed transitional residence for felons, there was less shouting than two weeks ago, and the meeting ended with a commitment between neighbors and Reverend Jeffrey to work together on an agreement both sides can live with.

The new direction seems to have come from a realization by both sides that a continued stand-off won’t prevent the project from happening. But continued ill-will could make it a worse for everyone involved over the long term.

The state Department of Corrections attended and made it clear that they will not be placing supervised felons in the house as long as the community is at odds with the transitional housing project. But that leaves a big population of unsupervised felons who still need a place to live, and Reverend Jeffrey needs residents to start moving into the house soon so that he can pay for the multi-thousand dollar monthly lease.

So the community has agreed to work together with Jeffrey to develop a Good Neighbor Agreement that lays out the operation of the house and rules to lessen its impact on its neighbors. 

The agreement will include:

  • Restrictions that rule out felons with a history of sexual crimes, homicide, and other offenses
  • Limits on the maximum number of residents in the house
  • Participation by neighbors on the residence’s steering committee that will decide who is admitted to the program
  • Notification to area schools and organizations that serve children
  • Restrictions against residents taking up limited on-street parking spaces
  • Restrictions on where residents can smoke around the property

The next steps include a possible meeting on March 8th to talk about the details of the Good Neighbor Agreement, and an open house this Thursday to allow residents to walk through the house and meet the people involved in the project.

0 thoughts on “Felon housing update: agreement to work on agreement

  1. Apologies in advance for the long post.

    I attended last night’s meeting, and appreciated the exchange of information. The community, as a whole, wants to do the right thing, but what is that? Frankly, it seems like neighbors are the only ones taking a risk here:

    Does any neighbor think this facility will positively influence property values? Does any neighbor think that this facility will positively influence crime in the CD? (I’d be interested to hear the SPD or DA’s opinion on this before signing any agreement.) Ex-cons who don’t make it through the in-house counseling programs, or have no real interest in doing so, will be expelled — right into our neighborhood.

    It takes time to process what such a facility might mean for the neighborhood, and clearly most neighbors have not been formally notified of these plans. But here is Rev. Jeffrey, pushing, pushing, pushing to get a deal done on a short timeline — so he can get bodies into the facility and manage the financial commitment that he undertook on his own and without the least consideration of potential concerns. I would encourage the block-watch community negotiators not to be bullied. If it feels too fast, that’s because it is happening too fast. We ought not to forgo due diligence just because the reverend did.

    His decision to monitor the site with two people whose main qualifications consist of 1) a reformed gang member and 2) a former security person for a Nickelsville inspire trust in the reverend’s judgment on the order of Palin inspiring trust in McCain.

    Further, the reverend’s statement that he plans to move forward with or without the Good Neighbor Agreement suggests that he sees the pact as a nicety but little more. It makes me feel foolish to think that I would take comfort in such a document, given his non-communicative behavior to date. (Yes, I know he apologized for the lack of notice, but he spoke about this like it was last year; it was just last month.) In any case, could we conditionally approve the GNA for one year, and then reconsider? The document should be as toothy and binding as is possible.

    I’ve lived in the neighborhood since 2006, when a crack house was two doors down from me. Now it’s gone, the house cleaned up and rented out. Pratt Park gets a lot more foot traffic these days – singles, families, old and young. I invest in the neighborhood by picking up trash on weekends, usually more often in the summer. Sometimes the area feels preciously close to breaking free of its bleak past.

    It seems to me that this facility – at least, the facility that is being rushed into our arms at this point – yanks us hard in the wrong direction.

  2. This is NOT a permitted 6 bedroom house.

    From KC Assessor website:

    113 22nd Ave: 3 Bedroom 1.75 Bath

    Look up Tax Parcel – 9826701565


    Seattle Department of Planning and Development ( – look up address 113 22nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

    – No history of permits to add bedrooms (beyond 3)

    – CURRENT active Housing and Building Maintenance Code violation (Case # 1020252). Failed re-inspection twice!

    Address 113 22nd Ave Ordinance HOUSING / ZONING: HOUSING
    Case Status Not resolved Inspector MCALLISTER, DEBORAH
    Service Request # 27839
    Notes Violations of the HBMC Resolution Date

    Action Code Status Date Case Action Type Description
    CM Jul 21, 2009 Complaint Made
    VIOL Jul 29, 2009 VIOLATION
    Inspection Jul 29, 2009 Inspection:1 Failed
    NOV Oct 05, 2009 NOTICE OF VIOLATION: ISSUED Compliance due:01-NOV-09
    NOV Oct 05, 2009 NOTICE OF VIOLATION: SENT Compliance due:01-NOV-09
    EXTENSION Oct 30, 2009 EXTENSION: ISSUED Compliance due:15-NOV-09
    Inspection Feb 18, 2010 Inspection:2 Failed
    AMENDED NOV Feb 22, 2010 AMENDED NOTICE OF VIOLATION: SENT Compliance due:21-MAR-10

  3. The DPD spokesman told us yesterday that this is a legal duplex, and can legally hold 8 unrelated people per unit, for a total of 16. There are compliance issues regarding fire exits that the department is working with the owners to resolve, but DPD will not prevent people from living there in the meantime.

  4. I suspect the # of bedrooms is irrelevant: it’s the # of unrelated residents per dwelling that’s important. Seattle Code allows 8 unrelated residents per dwelling: see previous posts.

    However the KC website lists the property as a duplex. Does the house count as TWO dwellings, and hence would allow 16 residents? This was the case, in the mid 90’s, when a group tried to open a sex-offender house in the neighborhood: two 8 person duplexes, with an internal connecting door, in a building that looked from the outside to be one big house.

    A few details of that (now resolved) issue:

    In that case the King County Dispute Resolution Center was very helpful in guiding the discussions and keeping them ciivl and productive.

  5. With the reverend having a long standing history of non-communication and almost an open hostility toward the church neighbors, I am concerned that once he gets his way on this rehab housing, he will go back to ignoring neighbors if a problem or new concerns arise. Once he has his permits and authorization from the city ( along with funding ), I wonder if he would return to ignoring the neighbors?

    One consern that I have, is related to what will happen if there is a violation of probation, or a crime that is traced to one of the rehab occupants ( after they move int this house ). How will the neighbors be involved in addressing this? Also, I am told that funding for these people only extends for only a certain period of time, and only if the covered ( funded ) folks abide by certain ridgid rules. So, if someone is found to be in violation of this funding organization’s rules, I am told that funding for that person would stop. At that point, I understand that then this person, and the occupancy of that person in that house, become the responcibility of the reverend. What are his plans if this possibility were to occur? Again, how is the neighborhood envolved in any eviction into the neighborhood, or if there becomes other problems with residents?

    There are so many opportunities for these rehabbed folks to reaffend, that I worry about placing these people back into their old neighborhoods where they originally may have offended ( they have their same contacts, and added abilities possibly learned while in prison ). I would hate for this house to become a cover for re-invigorating additional crimes in our neighborhood.

    Please understand that I respect that these folks have paid their time for what-ever their crime, but I just feel that we as neighbors, would have little or no control once this house is up and running. I just remember the problems many of us have experienced when we have complained about drug dealing, prostitution, gang activity, etc. It is almost impossible to get anything taken care of when this occures, and we would be bringing experienced former criminals into our neighborhood with possibly non-existant recourse through the reverend or his church.

  6. A major issue here is the house’s proximity to vulnerable populations. As was stated last night:

    Within a block of this address are Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, Central Area Youth Association, Spruce Park Apartments operated by Catholic Archdiocesan Housing Authority for families with children, Spruce Mini Park and playground, and several child-care centers including Community Day Center.

    Within two blocks of this address are Cannon House for the elderly and disabled, First Place School for homeless children, Douglass-Truth Branch of Seattle Public Library with an after-school reading program for children, Blanche Lavizzo Park and playground, and Yat-Sen Cultural Center.

    Within four blocks of this address are the Rotary Boys and Girls Club at 19th & Alder, Garfield High School and Garfield Community Center, Washington Middle School, and Seattle Vocational Institute and child-care facility.

    For anyone who thinks this issue merits the City Attorney’s attention: [email protected]

    Now is the time to be vocal, people!

  7. Hi Neighbors!

    Interesting meeting last night, eh? I can say that by the time I left, which was about 8:45pm, I wasn’t feeling assured that this project will be good for the neighborhood in any way.

    Per the comments above, the number of bedrooms is probably irrelevant but I’m no expert and this should be raised to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). My experiences in dealing with DPD, is that unless you cite code via SMC number, and any discrepancies such as the legal description of the property, the inspectors are oblivious to most violations. Whatever is considered a sleeping room does need to meet egress requirements for fire safety and be of a certain size. From what I can tell the Land Use Code allows two people per bedroom that is at least 70 sq ft, and then an additional 50 sq feet per additional person. For example a bedroom for four people would need to be 170 sq ft. At only three recorded bedrooms I’m hard-pressed to believe that a house of this size could support the number of tenants that Rev. Jeffrey is proposing at this point in time.

    It seems that to “legally” house the 12 – 16 people that the Rev. Jeffrey says can and will be housed there, the house would need to have the whatever additional bedrooms in the house actually be permitted, pay the applicable fees, and get the required inspections done before they could be used for sleeping. Again, probably irrelevant but it would certainly buy time and should be pointed out to the Planning Department. Buying time at this point it probably a good thing since I’m really feeling this is jammed down our throats with very little regard, if any, to our concerns. As Rev. Jeffrey unfortunately declared, this project is going forward with or without the neighborhood’s buy-in.

    Looks like the King County Assessor’s Office should also update their tax assessment to make sure everyone is paying their fair share of taxes.

    As an Squire Park Community Council Board Member, I was periferally involved in the Good Neighbor Agreement when Casa Latina moved into our neighborhood, and as I recall that process took 6+ months – not the fast pace of only a couple days that this seems to be steamrolling forward at. ***SIDE NOTE: I am NOT representing Squire Park Community Council’s views in this letter or by my presence at the meetings***

    Poking around on the city’s website, what I did find that I think is more interesting and relevant to our many concerns is in regards to the tenant’s rights surrounding eviction. Rev. Jeffrey claimed that the agreement that the all tenants would be required to sign would allow the tenant to be removed WITHOUT a court eviction, but that doesn’t seem to be the case by law. It doesn’t matter that I.T. uses the same agreement if the agreement is not legal in the first place.

    Numbered page 14 (as reflected on the page, not in the reader), of the Seattle Housing and Building Maintenance Code at the link below, says that a tenant cannot waive their rights in regards to a court eviction:

    – If I’m tracking the numbering right I think it is section C, 2 (right column towards the bottom).

    “Any rental agreement provision which waives or purports to waive any right, benefit or entitlement created by this subsection C shall be deemed void and of no lawful force or effect.”

    As a neighbor I am really concerned with this. If there is a problem tenant, it does not seem that Rev. Jeffrey could get them out in a timely manner unless the “person has ‘engaged in criminal activity'” (see the strict definition of “criminal activity” also listed on that same page). A tenant refusing to go to a required class, being a nuisance to the neighbors, loitering, noise, not getting along with people, or ???, isn’t by law considered criminal activity, and therefore not a “Just Cause Eviction” without court order.

    Page 15, under Prohibited Acts by Owners, says that an owner can’t “Remove or exclude a tenant from the premises except pursuant to legal process.”

    I am a landlord and I know for a fact that tenants cannot simply sign away their rights under the law. I doubt that there is an exception for ex-cons. In my own personal experience, the eviction process is lengthy and costly. I once had a tenant who hadn’t paid rent for two months, and to get them evicted was going to be an additional three or more month process and would have cost me several thousands of dollars. In the end I paid the tenant several thousands of dollars and forgave their back rent just to get them to move out after 3 months into was was looking to be a 5+ month process.

    All this seems to make Rev. Jeffrey assurances to the community of dealing with problem tenants quickly by signed agreement not hold much water. Unless he can prove otherwise via professional legal means, I am not drinking the Kool-Aid.

    – Alex Zankich

  8. You neighbors realize, I hope, that if you stop this project with a lawsuit it does not matter what DPD thinks. You need to show that the property is a nuisance or causes trespassing, not worry about whether it violates code. The harm it does to your property values is due to the house being a “nuisance per se”, not because the electrical panel isn’t up to snuff. Get a lawyer.

  9. How many people here would like this to be in their neighborhood? May I have a show of hands, please?

  10. Alex is correct:
    “Poking around on the city’s website, what I did find that I think is more interesting and relevant to our many concerns is in regards to the tenant’s rights surrounding eviction. Rev. Jeffrey claimed that the agreement that the all tenants would be required to sign would allow the tenant to be removed WITHOUT a court eviction, but that doesn’t seem to be the case by law. It doesn’t matter that I.T. uses the same agreement if the agreement is not legal in the first place.”

    If are worried about this you should address your concerns immediately to the City Attorney, Peter Holmes.

  11. As the community goes forward with trying to negotiate a Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA), it is helpful to know what is legally binding and what is not.

    As pointed out by others, tenants have due process rights that are not eliminated by a contract/agreement to abide by house rules. Other legal rights ….. Everyone has a right to use public sidewalks and to smoke where ever they choose so long as they do not violate the 25′ rule for business doors and windows and (just recently)for other park patrons. Everyone has a right to use public streets for access and parking. Tenants cannot be restricted to parking only at the back of the house. Certain sex offenders may be required to register, but other ex-felons have a constitutionally protected right to privacy. Although criminal records are a matter of public record, tenants cannot be required to publicly disclose that information to the general community as a condition of tenancy. With the exception of possible restrictions of associating with other ex-felons, everyone has the constitutionally protected freedom of association (which is why cities have struggled with passing anti-loitering laws.)

    It was unclear from Monday’s meeting whether or not the City Attorney’s Office would still be involved in negotiating GNAs much less being a part of their enforcement. IMO, that is first question for Mr. Holmes to address.

  12. There are Laws in Seattle to protect tenants from eviction. I agree, This “Transition House” can not model an Institution such as the IT House. Mainly because there is a difference in how the two Trnsisiton services are design and operate.

    There was a women at the meeting that said she is a realtor. She also said that this Transisition Housing would affect property value.

  13. i was involved directly, not just “peripherally”, with the CASA Latina good neighbor agreement.

    yes, that process took six months – mostly because of foot dragging and non-cooperation by a vocal few.

    two years later: NONE of the dire predictions of that group have come to pass (illegals waving for work in the neighborhood, gang activity, drug and alcohol use, sleeping in the parks, sleeping or defecating on our properties, threats to us or our children, swarms of illegals flooding our neighborhood, etc etc). if fact, CASA has become an asset and a positive force in the community.

    that is not to say that those concerns were not valid. they were instrumental in forging the tight terms of the good neighbor agreement.

    vigilance and rational planning are important. hysteria and intransigence are not helpful.

  14. A suggestion I have would be to discuss this proposal with someone at Pioneer Human Services. They run some felon housing in the Central Area already, I know of two in the 12th urban village in the central area, and they actually know what it takes to do this very hard work. They are very good participants in the 12th community – responsive and attentive – so may be approachable as to how to help give guidance on what safety protocols are needed for this kind of housing. E-mail me if you want a contact: [email protected]

  15. Curious if anyone else eventually show up at the open house? I was there from about 6:05pm – 6:25pm and was the only person, besides Rev. Jeffrey, Lottie and the house manager (I forgot her name, but is very nice).

  16. Greetings all- Sorry it has taken so long to announce the upcoming Monday meeting place to address the New Hope/22nd Avenue concerns…We are finalizing the location. It is going to happen on March 8th at 7 PM, most likely at Seattle University, in an accessible room with free parking just outside. We will finalize everything tomorrow morning, and I will post the announcement.
    Thanks for your patience.