Governor Visits Everett For Housing Roundtable

February 1, 2016

Everett, Everett Government


Governor Inslee makes his initial remarks.

“People need a house, a job and a friend,” said Governor Jay Inslee as he spent 45 minutes at a roundtable of elected officials and service providers talking about low barrier housing in Everett this afternoon.

Mental Health issues are a major problem contributing to homelessness and Inslee told those gathered that the State of Washington has made significant improvements in the mental health system since 2013, including funding a 30 bed mental health unit in Everett.

He also said the state has spent $700 million dollars in new money over the last 3 years but more needs to be done. “We don’t pay our mental health care workers enough,” said Inslee. “They are leaving for better jobs down the street.”

Inslee says the State needs a financing solution not only for its education system but also for mental health and housing and they need to be done simultaneously. “Great schools can’t help kids who are homeless or have mental health issues,” he added.

Inslee didn’t offer any specific suggestions for funding that trifecta all at the same time and left as the meeting moved into talks among the panel and audience on ways to address the challenge of low barrier housing in Everett and Snohomish County.


Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson says the first 5 low barrier housing units in Everett will open Wednesday.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson told the room his birthday is this Wednesday and his present is going to be that the first five units of low barrier housing in the city of Everett will open that day. He says the city is working with the YWCA for the next 20 units.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers released the first numbers of the Point in Time Count last week of those experiencing homelessness throughout Snohomish County. These numbers are for those living out in the open, not in shelters, staying with friends, family or in facilities. Here’s part of his message…

Last week we conducted a Point-In-Time or PIT count, and the preliminary numbers are worrying. [And just to note: these numbers do not include those who are living in shelters or other temporary homes].

(1) As anticipated, there is a significant upswing in unsheltered people in Snohomish County (that is, people who are sleeping in places not meant for human habitation). We have identified 481 individuals this year in comparison to 312 individuals last year, an increase of 54%.

(2) The vast majority of this increase has been in households without children which have increased to 439 from 295 last year, an increase of 49%.

(3) The number of unsheltered families with children has increased 16 to 35, an increase of more than 100% which is substantial. Thankfully, the numbers are still relatively small, however.

You can see his entire message here.

One of the more encouraging signs from the panel was a statement that there is measurable Return On Investment in low barrier housing. “First there’s dignity as a human being,” said panel member Dr. Robert McCann, executive director of Catholic Charities Spokane. He then went on to say that in Spokane they spent an average of $50 thousand dollars a year on chronic users of services but once they got those people into low barrier housing the cost dropped to around $10 thousand dollars per person. Not only a cost saving but also less burden for police, fire and emergency services.

One of the most important points people on the panel made is that there has to be services for mental health, drug rehabilitation and job and social skills in the same building as the low barrier housing. People may resist help at first but when they are ready to accept it then it has to be available to them.

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