Chronic Homelessness Doubling In Everett Compared To Rest Of Snohomish County

August 29, 2021

Everett Government

Everett Community Development Director Julie Willie at the August 11th council briefing.

There are a total of 21 Pallet Shelters currently on an Everett Transit property behind the Everett Gospel Mission.

The City wants to buy another 40 Pallet Shelters using American Rescue Plan funds.

The COET team working at an encampment on Hewitt Avenue earlier this year.

On August 11th the Everett City Council received a briefing on homelessness in Everett, Washington. Specifically chronic homelessness. Julie Willie, Community Development Director for the City of Everett has been tasked with leading the City’s response to homelessness and led the briefing.

Director Willie said: “The increase between 2019 and 2020 shows that the challenges in Everett are growing at double the rate of the challenges county-wide. From year-to-year county-wide there was an increase of unsheltered residents of about 12% whereas Everett experienced a 23.5% increase. And as you recall we didn’t have adequate shelter or resources before the Pandemic.”
“Today our numbers are even higher as COVID-19 has brought additional chronically homeless individuals from throughout the region to Everett to seek the limited services that exist.”

“Everett has seen a new group of unsheltered people who are living on the streets and moving between locations. Cleanups that ensure sanitation and lessen the negative impacts to our businesses and residents do temporarily disrupt the street campers but as they have no better place to move onto they often return to the same camping space or relocate to a different area that they stayed before and await the next cleanup.”

“Our Community and Outreach Team have been using a new tracking app since April and they shared that they have engaged with four hundred and sixty three (463) individuals in the past 4 months which anecdotally compared to that 2020 PIT Count number (300) showed a 54 percent increase in the past year.”

You can see the hour long briefing which provides much more context and detail. Follow this link and advance the video to 2:05:20 mark. (You can also go the City Council page on the City of Everett Website and view the City Council Archive. The meeting date was August 11th. The briefing led to various expressions of concern from the City Council.

Here is some of the reaction from Everett City Council President Brenda Stonecipher: “This is the issue that I hear about when I talk to our residents. I mean this is it. The only thing people care about is homelessness and they’re seeing it explode exponentially.”

“I think we have to stop patting ourselves on the back for having a COET program because unfortunately the people at COET don’t have what they need to take the next step when they’re engaging with the homeless people that they’re interacting with in our community.”

“We don’t have enough treatment programs, we don’t have enough housing whether its temporary or permanent, we don’t have a day shelter where people can go that is not our library or using the bathroom on the sidewalk out in front of our business community. We aren’t giving the resources to this problem that need.”

“I unfortunately have been on Council all this time and I’ve never even heard the plan and what I would really love to know is, here are the groups of homeless…I understand we’ve got the groups of recalcitrant that really don’t want…I get it. How big is the group that’s waiting for housing that we don’t have to offer them? Who’s waiting to get into treatment? I mean we’ve got 453 people out there, that doesn’t seem at this point like an unmanageable number. It honestly doesn’t. 453 people is like less than a high school.”

“What we’re doing right now, all the strategies whether it’s No-Sit-No Lie ordinances or moving encampments we’re just play Whack-A-Mole. And so we’ve got this great COET team who is out engaging with people and I know they’ve had a lot of successes, I don’t want to take anything away from their successes but it’s not working. We still have a ton of homelessness in our community.”

“Whatever we’re trying to accomplish I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what the steps are, I don’t know what the pieces are and whatever it is we’re not making it happen. As a policy maker I wanna know what’s the 10-point plan? Knowing that it’s not going to catch everybody bit it’s going to catch some of the people. At this point we just need to make progress, our population is growing instead of shrinking.”

Mayor Franklin expressed her views on the situation including the “Once-in-a-Generation” opportunity to access funds from the American Rescue Plan.

Mayor Franklin: “Tonight’s presentation was on chronic homelessness. Visible chronic homelessness in the City of Everett. We have hidden homelessness, families that are doubled up, we have a whole slew of other issues but we have visible chronic homelessness I think is what we get the most concerns about in our community so I asked the team to really focus on that.”

“The people on the street that are chronically homeless often have severe behavioral health challenges and coupled with the new laws over the last couple of years not just the ones enacted this year, but others, have made it harder and harder for us to enforce and what the city has done historically is a balance between outreach and services and enforcement and that balance is getting skewed because we are not able to enforce as much and it is getting skewed at the same time where the population is growing.”

“Today we’re having individuals that are actually fleeing Seattle and coming north because they don’t feel safe on the streets of Seattle and there’s services that closed down in Skagit County or east Snohomish County or anywhere else in the county and that have now come into Everett because we are the urban center and we have more services.”

“For the population we have on our streets right now it’s treatment, shelter. Those are necessary steps to get people housed and off our streets.”

“We’ll never solve homelessness we will always have individuals that experience homelessness but we should be able to house 450 people in the city. We will work towards that goal by really understanding each individual on our streets and what their unique needs are, what they need in order to exit homelessness and get back on their feet. We will only be successful if we do it in partnership with our faith partners, our non-profit partners, the County and all of the jurisdictions around us and I think we have some momentum around that.”

This Wednesday the Everett City Council will be asked to authorize the purchase of 40 shelters and one two-stall bathroom unit in the amount of $477,391.31, including Washington State sales tax from Pallet. The shelters will be purchased with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

20 qty – 64sq ft Pallets
20 qty – 100 ft Pallets
40 Wall Heaters
40 Air Conditioners & install kits
40 120v Electrical Kit w/1500 w heater
60 Folding bunk beds/desk
60 custom fit mattress pads
1 qty – 2 stall bathroom
Installation fees

The City says there is capacity to expand the existing Pallet project at the Everett Gospel Mission as well as a few other sites that are under review, including areas outside of Everett. In addition to the cost of acquiring the pallet structures, additional site work may be needed. If necessary, additional budget authority for site work will be requested at a future date.

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