Econo Lodge in Kennydale seen as potential homeless shelter

Recent developments have raised questions about the City of Burien’s intent with the Econo Lodge, a hotel in Renton’s Kennydale area, regarding its potential conversion into a homeless shelter.

The efforts center on the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and the City of Burien’s aims to resolve a homelessness encampment in Burien.

An Aug. 1 statement from Burien’s city administration stated that city personnel identified several potential sites for use as a shelter, including a facility operated by REBLX, a partner agency of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

REBLX Partners, a commercial real estate investment and development company, acquired the Econo Lodge in February 2022.

On July 31, Anna Burkland, chief of staff of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, published a letter stating Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling of Burien said at a Burien City Council meeting that he and City Manager Adolfo Bailon identified a partner with more than 100 units of various types of housing available, including rapid rehousing and permanent housing.

“It is clear you were referencing a (King County Regional Homelessness Authority) partner that owns and operates a hotel in Renton,” Burkland stated in the letter. “While they do own and lease hotels that may be used for emergency shelter, it is neither rapid rehousing, nor permanent supportive housing, and does not have a service provider.”

According to Burkland’s letter, the City of Burien concluded that the Renton site “would not be appropriate.”

The Aug. 1 statement from the City of Burien administration stated that all potential sites remain under consideration until city personnel complete an exhaustive review and share findings with the city council.

Corman said the use of hotel rooms as shelters has served as a short-term solution to the problem of homelessness.

“To actually fix this problem … we need a lot more permanent housing,” Corman said. “To really dig ourselves out and really restore dignity and have the environment we all want, we need low-income apartment housing. We need to have a strong local Renton economy. We cannot afford to give up half our hotel rooms.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since publication, and inaccurate information has been removed.