Homeless tent ban attached to Pallet Shelter plan
EVERETT — A simple vote to have the city accept a state grant to put people experiencing homelessness into temporary shelters simply wasn’t.
The City Council approved taking a $1 million grant to move ahead on the Pallet Shelter program.
It also added a condition that the city needs to create a “no sit-no lie” rule near where the shelters get set up. “No sit-no lie” rules make it illegal to lay down or pitch a tent in a specific boundary area. The council voted 5-2 for requiring this rule to be in place in tandem with the program to house people experiencing homelessness.
The city wants to put the shelters on a piece of city land located behind the Everett Gospel Mission along Smith Avenue.
Council members said a rule like this could make life easier for business owners on Smith Avenue who are frustrated by vandalism and thefts that they pin on people in the area.
City attorneys are certain an ordinance would stand up in court because it sets restrictions to a limited area.
The council debated and altered how this would work before taking its vote. Councilman Scott Bader introduced the idea, but many council members were reluctant toward his first proposal, which he later withdrew, with a clause that said if a court struck down the “no sit-no lie” ordinance, then the shelter program would have to shut down within seven days.
“That’s a little Draconian,” Councilman Scott Murphy told Bader. Murphy lengthened the shutdown time to 30 days. In the end, the council removed any deadline so it could focus on just attaching a “no sit-no lie” requirement relating to the shelter program.
Councilmembers Judy Tuohy and Jeff Moore supported this final version out of concern for Smith Avenue business owners. Council President Brenda Stonecipher gave a fifth “yes” vote to add the requirement.
Two councilmembers who voted against adding the “no sit-no lie” condition were Paul Roberts and Liz Vogeli.
Roberts said he supports the concept of a “no sit-no lie” ordinance, but did not want to intertwine the Pallet Shelter grant with the “no sit-no lie” ordinance. He called it procedurally “premature.”
Vogeli didn’t favor the general idea of a “no sit-no lie” ordinance, suggesting Bader rescind it.
The pilot project is for 13 months. The $1 million grant pays to buy the 20 shelter units and a contract to manage the site. The grant money originated from state Department of Commerce and is being distributed by the county.
The city hopes to have the shelters up by June, but has more to do before the shelters are installed. One step is to set a contract with the Everett Gospel Mission to oversee the residents in the shelters.
Pallet Shelters, made in Everett, are easily erected and dismantled. Their initial purpose was for setting shelters after an emergency disaster.
The people placed in the shelter units will be added to the county’s system to move people toward permanent housing.
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