Everett Mayor Revises Panhandling Ordinance, Adds Housing First Plan

September 30, 2015

Everett, Everett Government

panhandling

Brent Thompson and Xamara Cortez were panhandling to benefit the YWCA’s transitional housing program.

Back in April the Everett City Council said no to a panhandling ordinance that would have prohibited asking for money within 60 feet of a signalized intersection.

Tonight Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will come before the Public Safety Committee and propose a new ordinance that prohibits panhandling in front of ATMs, retail stores and parking lots.

It’s part of a newly announced plan that adds another $1 million dollars to the 2016 budget to address street issues in Everett. Here’s what we know so far from a press release issued by the Mayor’s office yesterday…

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson today announced $1 million in proposed new funding for targeted strategies to address street-level social issues and criminal behaviors in Everett. The comprehensive plan emphasizes enforcement, diversion and housing, and includes funding for new police officers and low-barrier housing.

“Over the next year we will provide additional tools for our police officers and prosecutors to use in dealing with criminal behavior, and we’ll continue to expand alternative policing and prosecution models that we know to be effective,” said Stephanson. “We will also begin work to create long-term, low-barrier housing for chronically homeless in our community.”

Stephanson will attend the City Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, to share his proposal. “I know that our councilmembers are eager to take action on these issues as well, and I look forward to discussing and refining this plan with them.”

Stephanson said the plan addresses “the immediate crisis on our streets” to ensure a safe, healthy community, and is an outgrowth of the Community Streets Initiative task force recommendations, and work done by city staff over the past several years. The proposal includes $1 million in funding for 2016. The mayor has previously allocated $1.2 million, including $650,000 for low-income housing, for Streets Initiative efforts in 2016.

The plan prioritizes several effective and cost-efficient short-term actions under the subareas of enforcement, diversion and housing. Stephanson emphasized that the three prongs must be addressed through a single comprehensive approach in order to be effective.

Under enforcement, the plan addresses the ongoing challenges with booking individuals at the Snohomish County Jail and allocates additional resources to police:

• Create a dedicated unit in the police department, including four new officers, a sergeant, and two full-time social workers, plus an additional prosecutor

• Make effective use of jail, including out-of-county alternatives such as the Yakima County Jail, to enforce against criminal behavior

• Amend the City’s panhandling ordinance to encompass specific location types throughout the city, such as ATMs, retail stores, and parking lots

The mayor’s proposal also builds upon the City’s successful alternative policing and prosecution models, which have been proven to reduce recidivism and costs over traditional enforcement methods:

• Establish a work crew program that uses clean-up crew in lieu of prosecution for appropriate individuals; crews would clean affected areas throughout the city

Finally, the proposal includes permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless frequent utilizers. “We know that the ‘Housing First’ model has been proven to reduce the impact on the community and city resources, and makes individuals more receptive to treatment,” said Stephanson.

• Build long-term, low-barrier housing, with a goal to create 10 units in 2016 and an additional 10 units in 2017.
• Partner with other affected agencies to provide supportive services for housing.

Stephanson acknowledged that street issues, including homelessness, mental illness and addiction, are complex and must be addressed by a coalition of community and government organizations.

“Today we are taking a significant step forward to address the immediate challenges on our city’s streets,” said Stephanson. “But we cannot do this alone. We will continue to work with service agencies to close the gaps in critical mental health and treatment programs, and we will work with neighboring towns and cities to help establish Housing First models in their communities.”

For more information, visit everettwa.gov/safestreets.


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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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17 Responses to “Everett Mayor Revises Panhandling Ordinance, Adds Housing First Plan”

  1. Deb Says:

    To the people who really think the panhandlers are just experiencing rough times: are you kidding? They are 95% addicts. And they are aggressive. because of that aggressive demeanor, is highly likely they rob and steal to get their fix if they don’t make money begging. Everett is bad for a reason and this is one of the biggest problems! Robert I agree with you. Let everyone who thinks that these “poor panhandlers” are only out here because they hit a bad streak invite them in their home and support them. I have witnessed some of the same panhandlers for years and you can tell very well that they are on drugs. By allowing them to continue just perpetuates the drug problem. And to the people that genuinely need it, get on public assistance, visit a church, salvation army, etc!

  2. Mr Bill Says:

    I sure hope none of the fine commentators here have ever run out of drug money. I can only imagine what it’s like to have to beg for crack.

    I can find a better way to utilize our police force and tax money. Not to spend over a million dollars in tax money on 1 alcoholic, drug addicted homeless guy. (and he’s not the only one)

    This entire proposal and efforts will cost a million bucks.
    I wish I could rack up a million dollars in bills, and have no responsibility to pay them…

    • Robert Says:

      Good point. Can we just tell all the homeless drug addicts that they can jgo hang out in your front yard??

  3. anon Says:

    Being poor isn’t a criminal act. And if I were disabled from a job, I wouldn’t sit and harass passer-bys. That’s why this is such a big problem. People are so blind. Remove to wool from your eyes and take a look at the city.

    It isn’t about hitting a streak of bad luck because you’ve been disabled from your job. Sure some of the people around have that issue, and it’s a sad thing. People always give the benefit of the doubt- but that’s the real problem. The people on the streets are NOT on the streets because of a lost job, or hitting tough times. Do you believe everything someone tells you? Even someone who would lie just to get your money? Don’t believe their signs. I’ve seen them dropped off and picked up from their daily day of panhandling. MANY are not struggling, and choose not to have a job on the basis that they don’t want to live in society with everyone else. They want to shoot drugs, commit crimes and live under the radar.

    There’s people who have gotten out of jail downtown, nobody picks them up and they continue to hang out in the streets, beg for money and commit crimes. Would you be okay with someone you didn’t know, someone the county doesn’t know, and someone you can’t trace (in the day you can trace everyone) to live in the house that’s waiting to be rented. Next door to your children and family? Why is okay for ex-convicts and drug addicts to slip through the social cracks while everyone else has to suffer the consequences?

    If you’re so disgusted by this, why don’y you let them camp out next door to you in a vacant lot? In fact, gimme your address and I’ll send them over. Then you can see your property value go down, you can step in some homeless guys poop while taking a stroll, and you can have needles dropped off in your yard. If you can think of a better way (since there hasn’t been a way to address this issue until now) I would love to hear it. You can break down the budget and we can see how you can change Everett.

    I have a job for them. They can clean up all the trash, their needles and their poop from my neighborhood. Get a trash bag that’s floating around the street, take your sign down, rewrite it to say “Cleaning up Everett, can you afford a few bucks?” and start cleaning up all the garbage you’re standing by.

    If you want to stand up for them, go to a shelter and help the ones who want to be helped. Otherwise, stay off of Broadway, Evergreen, and 112th from 10pm-5am. Visitors to this city must be mortified by the welcoming onslaught of homeless parading the streets upon entry.

    I’d hate to imagine what their houses would look like if they had one.

  4. Kelli Says:

    I guess being poor is a criminal act. Isn’t there a better way to utilize our cities time money and police officers. Disgusted at all the hate towards the poor.

  5. Mark Warren Says:

    I sure hope none of the fine commenters here ever hit a streak of bad luck, You know, like being disabled on the job… because then YOU could end up having to beg.

    But of course you would never end up like that…

    • Robert Says:

      Have hit a bad streak before… lots of resources exist though and never needed to panhandle while getting back on my feet. I don’t buy the bad luck argument. Panhandlers are not the individuals who just happened to have bad luck.

  6. South Everett Says:

    Some of these panhandler are bringing a lot of their personal belongings such as reading materials, extra clothing, food, blankets, etc. It’s like they’re camping out. Here again, if Everett wants to clean up this city, make and *enforce* laws that take care of it’s problems.

  7. Cali Says:

    I hope this law gets passed. SOMETHING needs to be done!!!! Ban panhandling in Everett, they are aggressive andddisrespectful!

  8. Robert Says:

    Yea, I’ve seen too many sleazy panhandlers around Everett. They are extremely aggressive too and will give you lip if you say no. It’s like, I’m sorry, I work for my money… you can go do the same. We just need to ban panhandling citywide. By allowing it to happen we are sending the message that it’s ok to be a human leech trying to feed on society. I’m tired of getting bombarded by money requests the moment I step out of my car in a store parking lot. Luckily I’ve learned that the key is to beat them to the punch… “Sir, can I ask you a question?”… “Sure, if you can spare me a few bucks to “feed” my “family.”

  9. Deb Says:

    *correction*

    …..cities where pan handling is illegal….

  10. Deb Says:

    How about we ban panhandling altogether to either force them out or force them to get a job? I have visited cities work and handling is completely illegal and the only time you saw anyone on the side of the road they were selling a newspaper or doing something productive for their earnings. I hope these new officers actually address the problem of the current junkie and meth head zombies and thieves, and taggers & gang bangers and not pick on people for going 5 miles over the speed limit. Also, can we ban the panhandlers away from our schools so that there are less drug addicts near our children? Because 90% of the pan handlers look like they are using drugs – it is so obvious.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    The Mayor is going to spend $1 million dollars in tax in order to find out why beggars beg.

    • Eleanore Says:

      No kidding they jacked up our car tabs $20 because they had no money now they have a million to blow on this

  12. Toni Says:

    Please please address the 128th overpass. They are walking on the off ramps within 1 ft of cars. They are getting aggressive .