Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

EVERETT — As Snohomish County looks to convert a local hotel into emergency housing, some city officials are raising concerns.

The county plans to turn a yet-to-be-chosen Everett hotel into a 24/7 shelter with on-site services, a strategy mirrored in neighboring counties and states.

Around-the-clock, non-congregate shelters are “probably the most rapidly successful models in the country,” Snohomish County Human Services Director MJ Brell Vujovic told City Council members this week. About 44% of Snohomish County residents living on the street are in Everett.

But some City Council members expressed frustration Wednesday that neighboring towns aren’t doing more to address homelessness.

Bringing social services to Everett is a “vicious circle” that draws in more people who rely on them, Councilmember Scott Bader said.

“Frankly, I’d be willing to bet money that five years down the line, despite your best efforts, we won’t have any of our partner jurisdictions in the county step up and do anything similar,” Bader said.

The outgoing council member wants the facility to only serve those living in city limits. He also suggested a no-sit no-lie ordinance, like the one targeting homeless people in north Everett that the City Council adopted in March.

Councilmember Paul Roberts agreed Everett has carried a “disproportionate burden” when it comes to homelessness. But it’s not a reason to stop addressing local needs, he said.

There was a 59% increase this year in people calling 211 requesting housing and shelter resources, said Mike Fong, Snohomish County’s chief recovery and resiliency officer.

Using existing structures rather than starting from scratch “makes so much sense to me,” council President Brenda Stonecipher said.

“The idea of us getting a significant portion of our unhoused population in Everett (sheltered) … is very exciting,” she said.

Those housed in the shelter would be expected to stay an average of 180 nights. The county is looking for a hotel with about 125 beds, away from residential neighborhoods. Snohomish County already leases out motel rooms to provide emergency shelter. In those instances, Vujovic said, there haven’t been major complaints from neighbors.

Fewer people on the streets could mean fewer to law enforcement, she added, ultimately saving money.

Snohomish County will use federal COVID relief funds to buy the property, and is looking to replicate the plan in other cities.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin has described the plan as an exciting opportunity that the city likely couldn’t afford on its own. Council members, meanwhile, only learned about the plan through media reports. Some considered asking the county to pump the brakes.

Two incoming City Council members, Mary Fosse and Paula Rhyne, said that would “send the wrong message.” In a joint letter to sitting council members, the duo said their constituents “overwhelmingly identified homelessness as their number one priority,” and that the plan shouldn’t be delayed.

The project is still in its infancy. A hotel hasn’t been chosen yet. Once that happens, the county will begin outreach to neighbors, likely in the first quarter of 2022.

To ensure transparency with city residents, Councilmember Judy Tuohy said the public should be given extra time to ask questions and make comments on the proposal.

Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; claudia.yaw@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @yawclaudia.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A crew member carries plywood to steathe a roof as of the Home Repair Service Program Friday morning in Brier, Washington on January 14, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Habitat for Humanity program helps Brier homeowners stay put

The nonprofit’s Home Repair Service program gave a senior couple a new roof — and hope.

Index School (Index School District)
Voters to decide fate of critical school funding measures

Levies to pay for staff and programs are on the Feb. 8 ballot in districts across Snohomish County.

School leaders in districts like Everett and Marysville have warned of a looming transition to online learning. This 2019 photo shows an empty cafeteria at North Middle School. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Staff shortages prompt some schools to resume remote learning

The surging omicron variant has left many Snohomish County classrooms bare of both staff and students.

Christian Sayre
Everett bar owner arrested again on new sexual assault charges

Christian Sayre, longtime owner of The Anchor Pub, was charged Friday with 10 counts of felony sex offenses.

A mail carrier delivers mail along Dubuque Road in Snohomish on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mail delays frustrate and perplex Snohomish residents

One woman waited two weeks for delivery. Then came “an avalanche of mail.” The Postal Service blames snow and staffing issues.

Sam Dawson administers a collection swab herself Thursday afternoon at the walk-up COVID testing center on Wetmore Ave in Everett, Washington on January 13, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Sketchy firm’s COVID-test sites shut down as questions mount

The Center for COVID Control will close an Everett site and others around the U.S. as officials take a closer look.

David Dodge (Washington State Department of Corrections)
Man who killed Stanwood girl gets another chance at release

A state Supreme Court ruling could affect other incarcerated people who committed crimes as juveniles.

Marysville Pilchuck student Gianna Frank and Marysville firefighters bag puzzles and snacks in Marysville, Washington on January 17, 2022. (Isabella Breda / The Herald)
In Marysville, care packages filled in an MLK act of service

Some bags will go to seniors, some to survivors of domestic violence and some to those living with housing insecurity.

The area subject to the tsunami advisory Saturday includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Whidbey Island and Camano Island. People along other coastal areas of Puget Sound are advised to stay away from the water. (U.S. Tsunami Warning System) 20220115
Tsunami advisory for nearby waters lifted after 12 hours

Officials in Snohomish County encouraged people to stay away from the shoreline during much of Saturday.

Most Read