Hope Church in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Hope Church in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

After outcry, Hope Church won’t be turned into Everett homeless shelter

The church “feels it’s within our best interests to pursue other buyers.” The city and county are taking a different route now.

EVERETT — The controversial plan by Snohomish County leaders to acquire Hope Covenant Church for a homeless shelter has fallen through, Mayor Cassie Franklin announced at an Everett City Council meeting this week.

Lacey Harper, an executive director for County Executive Dave Somers’ office, told the mayor in a memo on Tuesday that Hope Covenant Church is “no longer available” and that the county had earmarked $4 million for the city to use for another shelter location.

Finding that new location is now the city’s responsibility.

“Since the City is best positioned to secure a shelter site within its jurisdiction,” Harper wrote, “we believe this will both expedite shelter acquisition and is more in line with how we work with other cities and towns in Snohomish County.”

The proposed Hope Church shelter at 4502 Rucker Ave. was meant to replace the 40-bed Everett Gospel Mission shelter in the basement of the United Church of Christ in downtown Everett. That shelter, which the county has funded since 2019, wasn’t supposed to be a long-term site.

This week’s memo said the county now plans to extend the United Church of Christ shelter’s lease by six months “or until a new facility is available.”

Kent Patton, a spokesperson for Somers’ office, wrote in an email that the UCC location has “a number of problems, including (a lack) of appropriate hygiene facilities.” He noted the city requested the shelter be closed.

“Six months seems to give the City time to find an alternative facility,” Patton wrote.

The county had previously paused the process of purchasing the Hope Church property in early April after public outcry. Neighbors were angry about the potential shelter’s proximity to the YMCA and Emma Yule Park, areas frequented by children. They worried the shelter would make the neighborhood unsafe.

In an email sent out by church leadership last week, Hope Church announced the Memorandum of Understanding between the church and the county had expired and the church “feels it’s within our best interests to pursue other buyers/investors/developers at this time.”

“Although this may feel like a win for the neighborhood, which we totally understand, we do still have many individuals who are living unsheltered in our community that we must serve,” Everett’s mayor said at the meeting Wednesday.

“At this time, the City of Everett is not vetting any new emergency shelter locations,” city spokesperson Simone Tarver wrote in a statement, noting that they’d just received the county’s memo and that the county had been vetting locations before.

“The City has been focused on utilizing our ARPA funds to expand (Pallet) shelter communities, increase mental health supports and developing other services,” she wrote.

For residents who want to hear updates, Tarver recommended people follow the city’s social media accounts and sign up for email alerts from the city and for neighborhood notifications the city also offers.

“We look forward to sharing more soon,” Tarver wrote.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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