Signs show there is still lots of opposition to the idea of low barrier housing in Everett.
Attended the View Ridge-Madison neighborhood meeting last night.
The speaker was Hil Kaman, Everett’s newly appointed director of Public Health and Safety.
Kaman talked about the city’s Safe Streets Plan and addressed questions regarding the first low barrier housing complex currently proposed to be built near Pecks and Evergreen Way in central Everett between the View Ridge-Madison and Pinehurst Beverly-Park neighborhoods.
Kaman began his remarks outlining the three prongs that Everett is taking in addressing homelessness in the city.
1). Outreach and Enforcement: This is where the city’s new Community Outreach and Enforcement Team is making an impact. A police sergeant, four officers, two social workers and a prosecutor make up a special unit designated to contact people experiencing homelessness in Everett and offer services, support and also arrest and prosecution for those they contact depending on their situation.
2). Diversion: The city has established a work crew program that offers a chance for people arrested for crimes like trespassing, minor drug use and other misdemeanors to work on a city crew cleaning litter off the streets for 2 – 4 days in exchange for having their charges dropped. They also receive counseling, services and other help. The city is using a risk assessment to determine who may successfully complete the program.
3). Housing First: Currently the city is working with the YWCA to place 20 people in scattered sites around Everett in places like apartments, rooming houses and motels. The program provides housing vouchers and support services for the participants. This is also the basis for the 70 unit project being studied for Pecks and Evergreen Way. That first low barrier building is still more than two years away from occupancy.
Catholic Housing Services won the contract to proved Everett’s first low barrier housing
The favored site is on Berkshire behind the Peking Duck and Jiffy Lube east of Evergreen Way.
and is currently doing its due diligence to determine if the location at Pecks and Evergreen will work. Everything from soil samples to security of the area is being studied. While not a done deal it appears the project is moving forward at that site.
“It’s low barrier housing, not no barrier housing,” said Kaman. “There are rules, people can be kicked out for violating them.”
The apartments are permanent housing. People sign a lease and pay a third of their income to live there. If people have no income they pay nothing. Will people be allowed to drink? Yes, just like you or I can drink in our apartment there is no prohibition on possession legal alcohol or drugs. There are however case managers who contact the residents daily. Try to steer them into treatment and help with living and employment skills. It won’t be a drop in center and the facility is secured and manned 24 hours to keep out people who don’t belong there.
Neighbors at the meeting expressed concerns about who would be living and how residents are selected. The residents will come from all over Snohomish County. While Everett has the largest concentration of people experiencing homelessness in the area the facility will not be exclusive to those living in Everett. According to Kaman, Snohomish County will determine who gets in through a process known as coordinated entry. Here is the current schedule showing when the first residents are likely to occupy the building…
- Design: May – September 2016
- Community meetings/bus tours: Fall 2016
- Financing: May 2016 – September 2017
- Permitting: February – September 2017
- Construction start: September 2017
- Construction completion: October 2018
- Leasing begins: October 2018 – January 2019
*Please note that this is a projected schedule and is subject to change as the project progresses.
You can see more about this specific proposal here.
Kaman says the city is adding one more prong to the Safe Streets Plan…Better Communication. “I’ve been out in the neighborhoods talking with people about the site,” said Kaman. “I’m hearing consistently there is a lot of crime in this neighborhood right now.” He says the city will be setting up a site specific website where people can get information about a specific location. There will also be a series of meetings this fall as well as bus tours where people from the neighborhoods can tour like facilities in other cities. “We can’t not build it, we have to move forward,” Kaman added. He encouraged people to sign up for the Safe Streets updates. To do that, click here, give them your email address and scroll down and select Safe Streets Supportive Housing Updates.
Once Catholic Housing Services finishes their due diligence they will also be holding community meetings and updates to let people know more in detail the layout of the facility and more site specific information.