Everett hopes to erect Pallet Shelters to aid homeless people by June
City of Everett Powerpoint slide
The city's Pallet Shelter program might go behind the Everett Gospel Mission.
EVERETT — The city wants to have 20 personal shelters to house homeless individuals up and ready by this summer.
It has now revealed the location for the cluster: Behind the Everett Gospel Mission at 3711 Smith Ave. on a city-owned vacant lot.
The Mission would provide security and care services to the clients under a contract still to be signed, Mission Director of Strategic Initiatives John Hull said in an interview.
The units will provide “another alternative and another tool” to address homelessness, Hull said.
Importantly, the standalone shelters would give a place for people who won’t sleep at congregate shelters for personal reasons, whether that be fears of contracting COVID-19, or a man and woman in a relationship who couldn’t stay together inside gender-specific homeless shelters, or someone who has a pet and can’t bring it in. These examples are just a few.
The shelter program would focus on helping long-term, chronically homeless individuals who are on the streets today. The Police Department’s community outreach team is familiar with this group.
Its occupants would be let in under the “Housing First” model embraced by Everett, which means drug and alcohol issues are not barriers to housing. The Mission has light barriers toward drug use.
The city plans to set a “no sit-no lie” anti-camping zone concentrated near the Mission in conjunction with launching the shelter village. The law would specifically give the city the ability to move individuals who put tents on the sidewalk near and under the Interstate 5 overpass at Smith Avenue.
Council members will be asked to approve a “no-sit, no-lie” ordinance this spring. Council members Scott Bader and Jeff Moore last week indicated a “no sit-no lie” rule must be part of the package if they were to support the Pallet Shelter program. They are concerned about Smith Avenue businesses that have struggled with damage and aggressiveness from homeless individuals.
The Mission also wants to fence off the area, both for client dignity and to differentiate who is receiving Mission services and others who shouldn’t be loitering in the area, Hull said.
Beyond a roof over the head, the shelter lot gives social workers a situated place to quickly locate their clients, Hull noted. “We’ll be able to connect them with services in the community,” he said, adding, “it removes a lot of barriers to accessing services by having a stable location.”
The city intends to host the pilot program for 13 months. A supervisor would live at the site.
The shelters are made by Pallet, a company sited near Paine Field. The aluminum shelters are heated and are lockable, but do not have kitchens or bathrooms.
Portable toilets would be placed for service. During the day, people can get meals and showers around the corner at the Mission. The Mission is serving 80 to 100 meals a day from its back porch, Hull said.
Each shelter unit has two beds. Up to 40 people could be served at the village each night, however nobody will be forced to bunk together unless they are OK with sharing a unit, Hull said.
The shelters will be for adults only. Hull thinks most units will house people who today are sleeping on Smith Avenue near the Mission.
The Mission had to reduce its available capacity by 50 beds because of COVID-19 distancing regulations.
It’s also running a shelter at the United Community of Christ church downtown that serves 40 individuals.
From a legal standpoint for the city, having the shelters operational will mean people sleeping in public places can be ousted. A 2019 Supreme Court ruling made it illegal to oust someone sleeping on public land if the municipality can’t point them to an alternative.
Grants are paying for the pilot project. The city last October won grants worth $985,000 from the state Department of Commerce and $55,000 from the county toward the pilot project. This money will buy the shelter units, pay for shelter village’s management contract with the Mission and other associated costs.
The dirt lot behind the mission at 3711 Smith Ave. is a piece of the old Smith Street Mill. Interstate 5 splits the property. Everett Transit bought the mill’s whole acreage in late 2017.
City of Everett Powerpoint slide
The suggested site layout for the city's Pallet Shelter space includes Port-A-Potties, a fenced off area and a caretaker's space.
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