The community built by the Everett-based Pallet Shelter will host up to 30 people, and the rules will be pretty lenient.
EVERETT, Wash – Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, Snohomish County’s homeless problem is spiraling out of control.
Proponents of the homeless fear that homelessness will increase once the eviction moratorium expires.
“I’ve seen more people on the street in every neighborhood I’ve been in than I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Sylvia Anderson, who has led the Everett Gospel Mission for 21 years.
But there is a small step along the way to bring some stability.
A federal grant amounting to millions provides 20 pallet houses in which up to 30 chronically homeless people can be temporarily accommodated. They are 64 square meters, have electricity, heating and air conditioning and offer a foretaste of life on the other side of homelessness.
“Some people just need an opportunity,” said Julie Willie, Everett director of community development. “You need some stability.”
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Everett’s police and social workers are helping to identify people who would be good candidates for the program. 60 people have already shown an interest in the 30 spots.
They are offered psychological and addiction counseling on site.
The Everett Gospel Mission, which is right next door, will oversee the accommodations and provide food, showers and 24-hour security.
But residents don’t have to agree to receive services or even stay sober to live there. In fact, there isn’t even a deadline for when they have to leave the shelter.
“Creating a time limit adds to the strain on your situation,” said Anderson. “You might feel like it is a facility. We want you to be comfortable, but you will know this is over.”
When asked what is preventing people from taking advantage of the situation, Willie replied, “We expect them to be good neighbors. These people want stability, they want protection, they want a different life. This will hopefully be a launch pad for that. We don’t expect people to benefit, but we’ll see. “
This is the 40th parish built across the country by Everett Pallet Shelter Company.
“We’re a little late for the game in our own backyard,” said Anderson. “But we believe we can hopefully expand this to Snohomish County.”
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The Everett Project is centered around cleaning up Smith Avenue, which has been besieged by drugs, crime and violence for years.
A requirement of the pallet program was the passage of a new ordinance banning people from sitting or lying down on sidewalks within 10 blocks of the community. Police say they will “gradually enforce” the new rule, beginning with contact and warning.
“We’ll get it through when it comes down to it,” said Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman.
However, the prevailing belief is that people will use the shelters to really change their lives and move on to more permanent accommodations.
However, Anderson says people need to be patient.
“I’m 100% confident that it will bring some results,” said Anderson. “Whether it will bring all of the results that every individual in our community thinks it probably won’t, but that’s 30 people not sleeping in someone’s door.”
The residents will move in on July 6th.
The pilot project is funded for one year. If successful, the city must find additional funds for the future.