In Marysville, neighbors nix a plan for a shelter community

North Snohomish County Outreach hopes to find another location for eight tiny homes.

MARYSVILLE — A proposal to provide tiny homes for those in need of shelter has been abandoned after neighbors voiced opposition.

North Snohomish County Outreach, the Everett Gospel Mission and Generations Community Church will not be moving forward with a proposed transitional housing community in the Generations Church parking lot.

The Marysville Pallet community would have provided shelter, meals and mental health support for eight people who were unsheltered.

During a community forum on Zoom led by the three organizations, Generations Church Pastor Craig Laughlin said that in response to the strong opposition from neighbors, the proposal would be scrapped.

“At Generations we believe that God brings good out of bad, or in this case a bad situation. Strange as it seems, we have been deeply encouraged by the number of people who are supportive of providing more shelter in Marysville,” Laughlin said. “Many who are opposed to a shelter on our property told us they were supportive of and interested in helping with creating shelter someplace in our larger community. We hope that we can bring people together toward the goal of providing shelter in a way that our larger community can embrace.”

About five people commented, asked questions or volunteered suggestions for how to create more shelter in north Snohomish County during the hour-long forum. Many thanked the groups for deciding not to move forward with the church location, citing fear of the unknown and proximity to their homes as reasons for their opposition. Over 100 people registered for the meeting.

More than 700 homeowners opposing the shelter at 8240 64th St. signed an online petition to stop the proposed project.

“We stirred the pot a little bit so let’s get … all of us to help you,” said Julie Kallicott, a nearby homeowner, during the forum. “We think this church has done … a fabulous job. But, you know, there must be another way of us all helping you in different ways.”

The need for shelter remains unchanged.

Sarah Higginbotham, executive director of North Snohomish County Outreach, also known as NSCO, said there are about 190 unsheltered people in Marysville. Those numbers only reflect those who have engaged with support services.

According to community data provided by 211 — a service connecting Washingtonians with services including rent assistance and health care — there have been 448 housing and shelter requests over the past year in ZIP codes 98270 and 98271. The causes of homelessness are nuanced, but some of those identified by Snohomish County Human Services include domestic violence, mental health and rental costs that outpace wages.

“Homelessness is not going away,” Higginbotham said. “It’s becoming more of a problem because we’re not addressing it.”

NSCO already purchased the eight Pallet shelters and will need to find a new location to place them. #LetsGet2Yes is the organization’s new campaign to seek community-led shelter solutions.

Each Pallet structure can provide water, electricity and air conditioning. The units are built to last more than 10 years and are easily assembled. At an Everett site, it took a day to build all 20 units.

The success of transitional housing programs is supported by research. The Everett Gospel Mission will begin operating the Pallet Shelter Pilot Project in Everett next week.

According to a 2018 study by the Homelessness Policy Research Institute, fewer than a fifth of individuals who participated in a transitional housing program returned to emergency shelters seven to 18 months after enrolling in services.

Once people are provided shelter, they can move out of crisis mode, Higginbotham said.

While NSCO seeks a supportive community to host the eight shelters, its other work — laundry outreach, a food program and emergency cold weather shelter — will continue.

Laundry outreach, NSCO’s cornerstone program, allows people experiencing homelessness to meet with service agencies, including MercyWatch and 211, while their clothes are cleaned at a laundromat.

“It’s amazing, when you have a clean body and clean clothes, how that makes you feel so much better and gives you dignity,” Higginbotham said.

More information about efforts to increase the number of shelters in north Snohomish County is available at nscoutreach.org/%23letsget2yes.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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