Press Releases

Blue Minimalist Swiming Photo Collage (1)
The Story Behind the Mural

We are delighted to share with you some exciting news about the progress in building the Eastside’s only permanent shelter for men experiencing homelessness This place—where the housed and unhoused community can come together—will be a center for hope, healing, and support as well as an overnight shelter. In 2019, we chose a design team that would help us reimagine what a shelter can be from the outside in. When developing the concept for this project, JPL + BLOCK Architects was inspired by the phrase: “art melts walls” and integrated a truly significant piece of art into the building design. 

This 3,000 square foot mural surface will be two stories high and nearly half the length of a football field.  Situated on the south entry façade, it will welcome CFH clients, staff, volunteers, and the broader community as they arrive and be visible from major roadways.

Following an extensive evaluation, we are pleased to announce that CFH has contracted with internationally-acclaimed Australian artist Guido van Helten to create this community art.  Guido is a well-known muralist whose socially conscious works span the globe. He has a skill for creating large-scale, detailed, and evocative works to bring greater visibility to complicated topics and to people who are often overlooked. We’re sure you’ll be inspired by the examples of his work included here.

Due to its message, scale, and visibility, the mural will be a prominent public artwork in the City of Bellevue. Accordingly, CFH sought an artist whose creative vision and technical experience would be commensurate with the significance of the work, and whose expression of the CFH mission and values would resonate with varied stakeholders. Through community engagement with shelter residents, neighbors, and CFH staff combined with his documentary-style photography, Guido will create the content and inspiration for the art installation.

Nearly a year of careful thought went into the selection of our muralist—a year where we sought input from community members, artists, our design team, CFH clients, staff, and volunteers.  We considered such things as the artist’s approach to community engagement in developing the design as well as connection with our mission, the artists’ prior works, experience in doing murals of this size and durability of the materials.

Private funds will be used to support the art installations.  CFH continues to raise money for the new shelter and services center. Kevin Wallace, Co-Chair of ‘Shelter, Reimagined’ the CFH capital campaign, said lead gifts from community members have allowed the project to start construction while fundraising continues. 

Wallace said, “I’ve been very encouraged by the support from community leaders for this critical project.  I believe the community appreciation and empathy for what we are doing will increase further with the introduction of Guido van Helten and his community engagement process taking place over the summer.”

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November 9, 2021

Two Major Gifts plus Community Support Bring Permanent Eastside Men’s Shelter near Groundbreaking

Bellevue –

Public support continues to grow for the effort to build a permanent shelter for men on the Eastside experiencing homelessness.  The project sponsor, Bellevue-based Congregations for the Homeless (CFH), announced today two recent $1 million gifts to its capital campaign for the project, slated for Eastgate Way.  In addition, the project just completed its final public hearing required for Bellevue city approval.

The two major gifts are from wireless pioneer John Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Ballmer 

Stanton and Gillespie said “Partnering with CFH to build a Center where men can also find the support they need to make homelessness short, brief, and one time, just makes sense.” 

Connie and Steve Ballmer said “We are honored to help bring a permanent shelter to East King County that will help men experiencing homelessness.  The Eastside will benefit by providing coordinated services to help these men attain stable housing.”

Kevin Wallace, Co-Chair of ‘Shelter, Reimagined,’ the CFH capital campaign, said these lead gifts from community members will allow the project to start construction while fundraising continues.  Wallace said, “I’m very encouraged by the support from community leaders for this critical project, and I invite the broader community to join our capital campaign and help build a uniquely Eastside approach to addressing homelessness.”

Meanwhile, at the final City of Bellevue hearing for a conditional use permit last Thursday night, unanimous community support for the men’s shelter was “extremely gratifying,” Congregations for the Homeless Executive Director David Bowling said.  A total of 32 written and oral comments were provided to the hearing, 100% in support. 

“We’ve worked for years to find the right site, build trust in the community, and prepare the right plan,” Bowling said.  “We have a great design. We’re ready to break ground,” he said.  CFH anticipates starting construction by end of the year and moving into their new home in early 2023.

A product of more than six years of planning and community input, including three years of permitting, design, and fundraising, the shelter and services center is now part of a larger multi-purpose campus that will make serving individuals experiencing homelessness more efficient and effective. CFH will build and operate a 100-bed men’s enhanced shelter and provide services to the men, while two other organizations will build 360 homes for low-income wage earners and 92 supportive homes.

CFH noted that chronic homelessness continues to rise. Each night on the Eastside about 600 men are homeless. Since 1993, CFH has been the only organization focused on providing shelter and supportive services for men experiencing homelessness on the Eastside.

CFH is highly successful in bringing people in, getting them housed and keeping them off the street.  Within its homes, they have had as high as 98% of the men retain stable housing for two years or longer. 

Since 2008 CFH has operated emergency shelter in seven different locations. Its current temporary space, at Lincoln Center, has reached the end of its useful life and CFH must move out soon.  The nonprofit completed a purchase of its Eastgate site from King County in August.

“We are so excited to begin the phase of this project we can touch and feel,” Bowling said. “Our new permanent home will bring all our services together under one roof and continue to give men immediate access to a safe and dignified place. This represents a huge step forward for the way the Eastside will help people experiencing homelessness.”

The other organizations that will own and operate the projects onsite are Plymouth Housing, a Seattle-based provider of supportive housing for homeless individuals, and Inland Group, a Spokane-based developer of affordable housing.

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Eastside Homeless Shelter to Move Forward Following Council Actions

July 20, 2021

CONTACT: David Shurtleff, 206-954-2368

Eastside Homeless Shelter to Move Forward Following Council Actions

Local leaders are celebrating two major milestones towards meeting affordable housing and shelter needs in East King County, with the King County Council approving the sale of a piece of surplus county property in Bellevue and the Bellevue City Council approving additional funding for the men’s homeless shelter and permanent supportive housing that will be sited there.

The property, owned by King County’s Solid Waste Division and located on Eastgate Way in Bellevue, will be transformed into a campus that will include a permanent men’s homeless shelter, permanent supportive housing, and workforce housing. Led by King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, who represents the neighborhood where the property is located and has been a longtime champion of the project, the King County Council unanimously approved the purchase and sale agreement for $18,885,000 on July 13th.

“When I was the mayor of Bellevue, I made a commitment with fellow mayors from Redmond and Kirkland to work together to provide a full suite of emergency shelter services for people experiencing homelessness on the Eastside,” said Council Chair Balducci. “After years of work with public and private partners and the community, we are finally making good on that commitment. This property sale will enable the first and only permanent men’s shelter on the Eastside, and it will go further, with the first permanent supportive housing constructed on the Eastside and affordable homes for hundreds of families. This project has become more than I could have dreamed thanks to the tenacity and dedication of Congregations for the Homeless and their partners, with critical support from local government.”

On July 19th, the Bellevue City Council approved $3.6 million for the shelter project and $400,000 for the permanent supportive housing project. This funding provides the final pieces of financing which leverages the funds already committed from the Department of Commerce, King County, and other Eastside cities, along with more than $130 million in private investments and loans, all of which allows for closing on the sale of the property and construction to begin.

“Finalizing the property sale and funding are major steps forward in making the Eastgate shelter and supportive housing campus a reality,” said Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson. “I want to thank King County for its partnership in this process. The physical buildings combined with supportive services are key to Bellevue’s success in addressing homelessness. The new permanent shelter is just one key piece of our ongoing work to support our community.”

The project was instigated by Congregations for the Homeless, a Bellevue nonprofit that has been serving men on the Eastside experiencing homelessness for nearly three decades, who will operate the shelter. Plymouth Housing, a non-profit developer and operator of supportive housing for homeless individuals, will operate the permanent supportive housing and Inland Group, a Spokane-based developer of affordable housing will build the workforce housing. The purchase and project are also being facilitated by Horizon Housing Alliance, a non-profit developer of affordable housing.

Congregations for the Homeless Executive Director David Bowling said “This campus has surpassed our initial expectations by becoming a cornerstone for ensuring affordable homes and safe shelter exists within our community. All the public and private parties came together toward a common vision, setting the stage for providing coordinated, efficient and effective housing and services.”

“The Eastgate Project is a major advancement to address homelessness and housing affordability in east King County,” said Paul Lambros, CEO of Plymouth Housing. “As one of the project partners, Plymouth Housing is grateful to the King County Council for its unanimous vote in support of the project as well as Bellevue City Council for approving critical funding to begin work on the project. The Eastgate Project is a true partnership between local, county, and state governments, the private sector, and nonprofit providers coming together to address homelessness and housing issues in our communities. The project will enable Plymouth to provide permanent supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals on the Eastside for decades to come.”

“The Eastgate campus will be a shining example of what we can accomplish when the private, nonprofit and public sectors do what they each do best,” said Darin Davidson, President of Inland Group. “It takes all of us working together to effectively and efficiently deliver the housing and services the region needs. I want to thank Councilmember Balducci, Executive Constantine, the City of Bellevue, and funders for their leadership.”

Construction of the three projects is expected to be completed in 2023 at a combined cost of about $186 million. The campus will include:

  • A 100-bed men’s enhanced shelter and services center (Congregations for the Homeless)
  • 92 permanent supportive homes for homeless individuals being referred from Eastside shelters (Plymouth Housing)
  • 360 homes for low-income wage earners. This part of the campus will also include a 10,000 square foot early learning center (Inland Group)

The approval of the sale of the property by the King County Council and the funding by the Bellevue City Council marks the culmination of over eight years of collaboration among non-profit groups and local and state governmental leaders to expand East King County services and permanent housing options for people experiencing homelessness, as well as preventing homelessness for individuals and families by expanding affordable housing options. Congregations for the Homeless has been engaged in community engagement, site selection, and planning since 2014. The four organizations together have spent more than 18 months on design and engineering work, fundraising, and City of Bellevue permitting processes. 

Congregations for the Homeless, Inland Group and Horizon Housing Alliance Announce Milestone in Developing a Bellevue-Based Shelter in Conjunction with Affordable Housing

Bellevue — September 18, 2019

Congregations for the Homeless (CFH), the sole provider of overnight shelter for adult men in East King County, announced they have taken the next step in fulfilling the long-held shared goal of establishing a permanent year-round shelter for men experiencing homelessness. CFH recently reached agreement with King County on a purchase and sale agreement for the property located at 13620 SE Eastgate Way; a property located just north of I-90 and Factoria that CFH identified last December as their preferred location. This milestone was achieved thanks to Inland Group and Horizon Housing Alliance joining with CFH to bring forward a vision for the entire 9+ acre site.

Earlier this year, CFH identified the need to work with a master developer in order to secure a portion of the property for the shelter and day center. Recognizing the uniqueness of this opportunity, CFH, Inland Group and Horizon Housing Alliance are developing a master plan concept that furthers the City of Bellevue’s goal of safe, healthy and affordable places to live for people of all income levels.

Inland Group will lead the master development process for the entire site, while CFH will retain the responsibility of obtaining a land use permit for the 100-bed overnight shelter and day center on a small portion of the site. The City’s shelter permitting process includes working with Bellevue’s Good Neighbor Agreement Advisory Committee and publishing its safety and security plan, standard operating procedures and codes of conduct, all of which are intended to foster transparency and confidence from the surrounding community.

In addition to the property serving as the permanent location for CFH’s shelter and day center for men experiencing homelessness, Inland Group envisions 300+ rental units of workforce housing on a separate portion of the property. CFH, Inland Group, and Horizon Housing Alliance also are exploring the possibility of providing approximately 80 apartment homes for individuals leaving homelessness – people who are ready to live independently with wrap around services designed to help them maintain housing stability.

King County Executive Dow Constantine stated, “Today we stand in partnership with CFH, Inland and Horizon Housing Alliance in takinga significant step to make an Eastside shelter for men experiencing homelessness a reality. I applaud the addition of a significant number of new affordable housing units to the project. King County is proud to play a pivotal role, providing both land and financial support for a comprehensive homeless and affordable housing solution that will benefit our region for years to come.”

“Planning for the Eastside’s first homeless shelter for men began over 10 years ago, motivated by a tragic and unnecessary death in Bellevue. When I served as Mayor of Bellevue, I was proud to propose that we make it a priority to find a permanent home for our existing men’s shelter,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “Now, as a County Councilmember, I continue to support CFH’s efforts to complete this work. This property sale will support not only a life-saving shelter, but also services and homes to help people move from homelessness to housing, and homes that will be affordable to working people and families in our increasingly expensive community. I thank and commend CFH, their partners, and Executive Constantine and his team for negotiating this important sale.”

‘This is a major milestone for CFH and King County,” said City of Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak. “This moves the proposal closer to beginning the City permit process, a critical step to having the shelter built in a timely manner.”

“Inland Group is excited to partner with Congregations for the Homeless to advance this critical project, said Darin Davidson, President of Inland Group. “We have decades of experience in creating attractive, high-quality housing that is an asset to the community and working families. We own and manage the properties we develop and therefore understand the importance of building long-term relationships and working with communities from the very beginning of a project.”

David Bowling, CFH Executive Director, said, “After nearly five-years of planning, community engagement, and evaluation of potential sites on which to locate a permanent shelter, this is an exciting milestone in fulfilling our mission and meeting the City’s goal of creating a permanent space by 2022. We thank everyone involved in this process so far and look forward to engaging the community further now that we can turn our attention to the design details. Once completed, we believe our bold vision of a shelter and day center combined with affordable permanent home options will provide a range of affordable homes and life-saving community services that the City of Bellevue will be very proud of.”

CFH has operated the 100-bed emergency winter shelter in Bellevue since 2008, but it was only permitted to operate between November and April. “This year, thanks to a collaborative effort between the City and Bellevue’s business community, the overnight shelter was enabled to operate year-round,” said Kevin Wallace, President of Wallace Properties. “The permanent facility on Eastgate Way will enable that year-round operation to occur in a new building that provides the services needed to achieve Bellevue and CFH’s shared goal of making homelessness rare, brief and one-time.”

Completing this purchase and sale agreement was important because it allows CFH and Inland Group to begin submitting funding applications to advance efforts to build the shelter and affordable homes. Final agreement regarding the sale of the parcel is subject to approval by the King County Council.

CFH is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1993 to provide a warm, safe, and hospitable place for single men to sleep and be nourished with three healthy meals each day. Today, with phenomenal partnerships and support from King County’s Eastside community, CFH serves more than 2,000 people each year with shelter, permanent homes and life-saving services.

Founded in 1973, Inland Group specializes in the development and construction of high density residential and commercial projects from affordable family housing to independent living retirement communities. Over the last forty years, the company has evolved into an industry leader in the construction and development of multi-family housing.

Horizon Housing Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, public benefit corporation focused on the most efficient delivery of homes for those in need. Horizon was created in 1993 and has partnered on affordable and senior housing developments in Washington state and Nevada.