Renton council votes to reduce homeless shelter capacity at Red Lion Inn

The Renton hotel that Kng County is using to shelter about 200 people experiencing homelessness must reduce its capacity next year and close completely by the end of 2021. 

The Renton City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to change the rules on where homeless shelters can operate after months of complaints and an increase in law enforcement and fire calls to the Red Lion Inn

Under the new ordinance adopted by the council, half of the shelter residents must be out of the hotel by June 2021. The sheltr will have to close completely by January 2022. 

The contentious issue has drawn passionate arguments from both sides. Fire officials say the building is not up to code and not designed to be used as a homeless shelter. They've responded to several calls of fire alarms going off and people locking exit doors. 

RELATED: Fire officials concerned over safety hazards after King Co. turns hotel into homeless shelter

City officials pointed to one incident in November when a resident barricaded himself in his room and started a fire, leaving five people in wheelchairs trapped on the fifth floor. Firefighters were able to get everyone out safely, but it points to the liabilities of housing a homeless shelter at a hotel. 

Advocates and people who work directly with the homeless population argue that the hotel model has been a huge success. They say it gives them a sense of stability and self-worth, much more so than when they're housed in a congregate shelter.