HopeWorks taking over Everett work crew

EVERETT — Housing Hope, a local nonprofit that provides a variety of housing and job-training services for homeless and low-income people, is taking over the city of Everett’s work crew program.

The program is part of the city’s Safe Streets initiative that seeks to alleviate the city’s problems with homelessness, addiction, mental illness and street crime. A city prosecutor may refer misdemeanor arrestees who have been cited for minor offenses to the program, where they spend up to eight days picking up litter on Everett’s streets. In return, their ticket goes away.

Since the city launched the work crew program in April, 42 people have taken part and got their tickets expunged.

The city originally partnered with Friendship Diversion Services, and Olympia nonprofit, to oversee the program. Jack Jessup, a retired Everett police officer, was tapped to manage the program out of an office on the ground floor of Xfinity Arena.

On Wednesday, the Everett City Council approved contracting with HopeWorks to run the program starting Jan. 1. HopeWorks is an affiliate of Housing Hope that runs job-training programs.

HopeWorks plans to retain Jessup as the program manager, said Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom.

The work crew program will fit in with HopeWorks’ other programs, which include a landscaping business, a home decor store and a coffee shop.

“It’s similar in that it is using work as therapy, if you will, and as a training program to help homeless and very low-income individuals get back on their feet and move on to other employment opportunities,” Safstrom said.

Picking up garbage and sweeping sidewalks is only one part of the work crew. Participants in the program also have been referred to other needed social services, given motivational programming and materials, and otherwise gotten used to committing to coming to work a specific times each day.

On the other hand, the work crew is a grant-funded program and does not generate revenue. HopeWorks’ social enterprises, as they’re called, operate as businesses, with the participants being paid for their work.

As part of the transfer agreement, the City Council approved a budget of $110,000 for the 2017 to pay for the program.

Housing Hope also is planning a new facility next to its offices and shops on Broadway that will allow its work programs to expand and provide 76 units of housing.

The nonprofit was recently notified it received a $1.75 million grant from the state Housing Trust Fund. If other funding measures come through, construction could begin by the end of the summer of 2017, Safstrom said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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