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Homeless housing plan advances another step

EVERETT — The public has given mixed responses on the city’s proposed 70-unit apartment complex to house chronically homeless people near the intersection of Evergreen Way and Pecks Drive.
The environmental review for the four-story site at 6107 Berkshire Drive concluded earlier this month. More than 20 written comments from 15 people were submitted in response.
The city determined no significant impact from the project. The appeal period runs until Wednesday, April 19.
The proposed site is at a nexus where the Glacier View, Pinehurst-Beverly, View Ridge-Madison and South Forest Park neighborhoods meet.
People living in the middle class homes within blocks of the proposed site have spoken out against its
siting as disproportionately impacting their area. Their consistent message is they believe the site is being railroaded through without a choice.
A petition with more than 135 signatures from people living largely within a five-block radius to the site was submitted as part of the opposition. Petitioners state, for one, that they do not believe the Police Department can keep their families safe from the future site residents.
Neighbor Aaron Powell, who has expressed frustration over the process, wrote that a natural hill helps shield the homes along Berkshire from activity along Evergreen Way. The proposed site will be built upon the hill, meaning the barrier is broken.
“By building on the hill and improving the sidewalks and lighting it will now become attractive for the happenings of 99 to proceed up to our neighborhood,” Powell wrote.
Another neighbor wrote in that the area is going into a tailspin that this project would exacerbate. He already sees prostitutes, drug deals and other trouble nearby along Evergreen Way.
“My property taxes were over $4,000 and I didn’t choose to live here to be next to a homeless shelter,” a third respondent wrote.
People outside the neighborhood largely wrote in that the complex is a needed solution for homelessness.
A few commenters shared the same concerns. The housing is needed, but its siting “has been a process that ignores the community,” wrote Bob Creamer and MJ Donovan-Creamer, who live in the Riverside Neighbor-
hood.
Other suggestions included a recommendation that the city create a buyout plan for nearby homeowners to mitigate the apartment site’s impact on neighbors, and to fence around the site to avoid back-way trails from being formed.
On the buyout plan, the realtor who suggested it said the homes could either be resold to people who would accept living near the site or to turn the homes into government use.
The project is utilizing the Housing First model pioneered in Salt Lake City.
The tenants will be given shelter and case management treatment for drug and alcohol dependencies.
The model of sheltering first intends to remove barriers for chronically homeless people who cannot find housing otherwise because of their dependencies.
Catholic Housing Services will develop and ultimately own the site on vacant land donated by the city.
Sex offenders will not be allowed to live in the site, and the units will be heavily guarded on which guests are allowed in, representatives from Catholic Housing Services said previously.
The site was chosen against a list of one dozen alternates in both north and south Everett. This site, a city analysis shows, meets all of the city’s criteria for nearby transit, grocery stores, clothing stores and other amenities. A Value Village thrift shop, for example, is across Evergreen Way.
The project narratives assume vehicle ownership will be low because the residents will be very low income. It will have 21 on-site parking spaces for the 70 units of apartments. One respondent said that parking will already be at a shortage because on-site staff will take up a large number of spaces.
A public hearing on the low-barrier housing development is scheduled for Thursday,
May 18 at 6 p.m. in Everett Station’s fourth-floor Weyerhaeuser Room, 3201 Smith Ave.
The project is expected to start construction this fall and open to residents next year.

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