The Blok arrives at the Edmonds Lutheran Church. (Lizz Giordano / Herald File)

The Blok arrives at the Edmonds Lutheran Church. (Lizz Giordano / Herald File)

‘Hidden homelessness’ surprises Edmonds council members

An analysis estimates there are 230 residents unhoused, and the city provides no services for them.

EDMONDS — Homelessness is a reality for at least 230 Edmonds residents, according to a recently released report.

The findings challenge common assumptions that there are no unhoused people in the city and that people experiencing homelessness come from outside the region, the report notes.

The myths are familiar to Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas.

“I keep hearing that,” Fraley-Monillas said in an interview. “There’s a perception that if you don’t see tents on the sidewalk you don’t have homelessness.”

The comprehensive study done by Edmonds-based Kone Consulting also found that about a third of households in the city are considered “housing cost-burdened” — spending 30 to 50 percent, or more, of their income on housing.

The report attributes some of the misunderstanding in the community to the amount of “hidden homelessness.” More often, unhoused people in Edmonds are doubled up with family or friends, sleeping in a vehicle or staying in a hotel — rather than living in an encampment or pitching a tent in a park.

Councilmember Mike Nelson didn’t know what to expect when the council ordered the report last year.

“I was really surprised by the breadth and depth of those who don’t have a permanent roof over their head, as well as the length of time,” he said during a recent council meeting.

“Almost a decade now we’ve had several hundred people in our city without a permanent roof over their head, so this is a problem that has been going on for some time,” he said.

Lizz Giordano / Herald File                                Members of Edmonds Lutheran Church congregation gathered last June as the first Blokable unit is placed on church grounds. The project will bring low-income housing to the city. The church, which hosts a community dinner each week, is one of a handful of faith-based organizations in Edmonds that provides almost all of the supportive services for homeless Edmonds residents.

Lizz Giordano / Herald File Members of Edmonds Lutheran Church congregation gathered last June as the first Blokable unit is placed on church grounds. The project will bring low-income housing to the city. The church, which hosts a community dinner each week, is one of a handful of faith-based organizations in Edmonds that provides almost all of the supportive services for homeless Edmonds residents.

Kone used data from the Department of Social and Health Services, calling it the most reliable to estimate the number of people experiencing homelessness. The state agency asks for housing status on applications for medical, cash or food assistance.

Over the last decade, the number of homeless residents was at its lowest in 2008, with 71 recorded. The number peaked in 2014 with 363. This includes people who are living in a car or tent camping, couch surfing or staying in a hotel or shelter.

Of the 230 people currently homeless in Edmonds, a disproportionate number are people of color, Kone found. Black people make up about 1 percent of the city’s population, though they account for 11 percent of the homeless population. While 82 percent of residents are white, they represent 66 percent of people who are unhoused.

Another common misperception, according to Kone, is that homeless people in Edmonds are from outside the region. The report cites data from the Snohomish County’s Point-in-Time count showing that most of the people experiencing homelessness are from the area.

“We don’t have a bunch of people flocking to Edmonds, because we don’t have any services,” Fraley-Monillas said.

She was “amazed” to learn the city did not directly fund any human services, unlike other nearby cities, according to the homeless report.

Human service departments generally support programs that assist with housing, transportation, home repair, child care and prevention for domestic violence.

“I found that very, very, very telling. … It’s clear we have not done our jobs,” Fraley-Monillas said. “We are legitimately behind in our services.”

“In Edmonds, more so than in other surrounding communities, faith-based organizations provide almost all of the supportive services for homeless Edmonds residents,” Kone wrote in the report.

This includes several churches that cook community dinners or run food banks. The Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church provides ten spaces for the only sanctioned car camp in the area.

The Edmonds Senior Center had hosted a cold-weather shelter in past years. It moved to Lynnwood this year.

Recommendations from the report include outreach about homelessness in town and increasing collaboration with other nearby cities. It also calls for preserving existing affordable housing by partnering with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County.

“The next question is what we are going to do about it.” said Nelson, who is also a candidate for mayor, in an interview. “We have to tread carefully. Cities throw money at the problem, but it doesn’t always work.”

It’s important to get the public on board, he said.

“We weren’t informed before, but we are informed now,” Nelson said. “We didn’t have the leadership to look at this sooner.”

Fraley-Monillas agreed with Kone’s assessment that homelessness hadn’t reached a crisis level in Edmonds, though there are indications the problem is deepening.

“When you have people sleeping on your sidewalks, you have a crisis,” she said. “We can’t say you can’t live in Edmonds if you are poor. We can’t say you can’t live in Edmonds if you are homeless.”

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Marysville
1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian along I-5. Investigators believed a man had parked on the shoulder to refuel.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Firefighters respond to a report of a smoke alarm going off in the 100 block of West Main Street in Monroe on Monday morning. Fire officials confirmed the fire was coming from living quarters above Good Brewing Co. (Provided by Snohomish County Regional Fire and Rescue).
Fire damages apartment above Monroe brewery

Good Brewing Co. on West Main Street was listed as permanently closed Monday.

Tom Ceurvorst picks up his food order at Big Chicken on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free ice cream Wednesday for Shaq’s birthday at Big Chicken in Mukilteo

Sign a card for the NBA Hall of Famer and restaurant founder. Shaquille O’Neal turns 52 on March 6.

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Police: Lynnwood man consumed cannabis, beer before crash into trooper

Trooper Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect Raul Benitez Santana was impaired.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.