City of Everett Tells Campers Along Snohomish River They Must Leave, Offers Help

May 21, 2015

Everett, Everett Government

Camp A

Police and social workers conduct a briefing before going into the camps. The tables and chairs provided a working space to interview people and educate them on available services.

Camp 2

Recently a loader almost scooped up a person sleeping under a pile of brush on the property. Massive construction equipment is now being used in the area making it a very dangerous place.

Camp 3

John Hull from the Everett Gospel Mission interviews a woman in a tent. She declined any help.

Camp 4

A couple leave the area on bikes towing a cart with their belongings

Camp 5

Many of the camps showed signs of drugs.

Camp 6

Syringes and needles were a common site at many camps.

Camp 8

A few of the sites were nice and well maintained.

Camp 9

A woman and her dog agree to find out what help is available. She said she’d like help getting to her mom’s home in Texas.

Camp 10

Soon the whole area will be cleared for housing and people will be forced to leave.

“Today let’s not use the word can’t,” said Everett Police Captain John DeRousse. “Can’t is not an option.” He was addressing a briefing of police officers and social workers as they set out to contact people living in camps along the Snohomish River east of 41st street and north of I-5. The area is being developed into housing stretching from Pacific Avenue south to the Lowell neighborhood. Along the riverbank are literally dozens of campsites ranging from a simple blanket on the ground to multi-tent campsites. Some are occupied by many, others by a single person and many were abandoned.

MyEverettNews.com went along today as police and social workers checked the sites and visited with people who were there. The purpose of today’s operation was to document the campsites, contact those living in them and let them know they couldn’t keep staying next to the river. Construction equipment was coming and it isn’t safe.

People contacted were told about resources available today, right now, to help anyone experiencing homelessness. John Hull from the Everett Gospel Mission told those gathered at the briefing that anyone who wanted a roof over their head would get one tonight, even if they’d been to the shelter before. Representatives from Catholic Community Services and Volunteers of America were also there to provide immediate service if someone wanted to take advantage.

Except for a very few campsites, most were strewn with garbage, used needles and trash. Most appeared to be empty but just for the day with people likely to come back later. At those sites where there were people, social workers and police explained that the area was private property and soon construction equipment would be coming through and tearing out the camps. People were offered immediate shelter but beyond that there were offers of transportation to safer places, services and the chance to sit down and tell someone what they needed.

Some people refused contact and just packed up. Others stayed put and said they understood and several went back to the staging area to apply for services and get help. Police did not shut any camps down or forcefully remove anyone but did document where the camps were.

“This is the first of these operations we’re doing in Everett and it’s a learning process,” said DeRousse. “We’re starting here because construction is coming and people will have to leave so we’re prioritizing our efforts but we will be doing this once a month as we try to reach people in all areas of Everett.”

Crime is a problem both in the direct area of the camps and the neighborhoods nearby. As we went from camp to camp, MyEverettNews.com listened as many told police that theft was a major problem. Officers say the camps contain a population of those with mental issues, substance abuse issues, PTSD and there’s a criminal element that targets this vulnerable population. Police also said they recognize there is no way to arrest our way out of the problem. “Partnerships are the only way for us to make this work,” said DeRousse. “It’s about problem solving, balance, helping people as best we can.”

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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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4 Responses to “City of Everett Tells Campers Along Snohomish River They Must Leave, Offers Help”

  1. tom bukowski Says:

    Many of people that find shelter in what wooded area that is left in Everett for many of years. With the river area by the mission being a choice place as there is some resources in that area with compass mental health and the mission near by most these people have mental illness. Or drug and alcohol addiction with nowhere to go. Have fallen on hard times the city of Everett have a no camping ordinance for years. The city need to help the homeless not lock them up maybe they need to try a tent city similar to Seattle. With strict policy and of substance abuse.

  2. kara Says:

    John is amazing. Helping and giving from his heart.

  3. sean Says:

    I lived out in those streets everyday was a battle. Its easy to jjdge someone who struggles but you really cannpt understand anyone until you have been there yourself.

  4. Pam Says:

    They need to start being a bit more proactive and find some solutions. . .would be interesting to know what their stories are and how they can be helped.. it’s sad to think that people believe this is their only choice ~ while some may actually want to live this way, I would bet most don’t.