EVERETT — Smith Avenue’s new shelter community of tiny homes will welcome its first residents next week. On the same day, the city’s controversial “no-sit, no-lie” ordinance will officially take effect.
“It’s the lowest-barrier program we could possibly have,” Mayor Cassie Franklin said of the pilot project. It also gives unhoused residents the “dignity of four walls and a roof over their heads.”
More than 60 people are already on the wait list. The site, behind the Everett Gospel Mission’s shelter on Smith Avenue, can house up to 30 people.
The purpose of the shelter community is to provide people who experience chronic homelessness with temporary housing. After residents have an opportunity to live in a stable environment and connect with services, they ideally move to permanent housing.
The structures are built by Pallet, an Everett-based company. Each structure has water, electricity and, soon, air conditioning. The units last more than 10 years and are designed to be built quickly. At the Everett site, it took a day to build all 20 units.
The Everett Gospel Mission, a nonprofit that runs the site, expects to admit the first residents Tuesday. While the city’s no-sit, no-lie ordinance takes effect the same day, police may choose not to enforce it. The department’s priority is “outreach and education,” said Sgt. Kevin Fairchild, who leads the Community Outreach and Enforcement Team.
COET, a team that pairs police officers with social workers, visits Smith Avenue about once per week to offer resources to the area’s unhoused residents. Most know the ordinance will be in effect soon, said Kevin Davis, an officer on the team.
As the Everett Gospel Mission admits residents to the site, business owners may continue to see unhoused residents on Smith Avenue. The program takes time to implement, Mayor Franklin said.
The Everett Gospel Mission plans to admit the first six residents next week, starting Tuesday. The organization will continue to admit residents until the units are full, said the nonprofit’s CEO, Sylvia Anderson.
Traditionally, shelters don’t allow couples to live together or people to bring pets. The Pallet shelter community will allow both. Kelli Roark, a social worker with the city, said the wait list includes 17 couples.
The Pallet Shelter Pilot Project also does not have a limit for how long residents can stay. Instead of giving residents a time frame, the Everett Gospel Mission develops a plan with clients to help them meet certain goals.
Putting a limit on someone’s stay at the beginning stresses people out more than it helps them, Anderson said. Typically, it takes 60 to 90 days just for people to settle in and find their rhythm.
“Initially, we are going to build some relationships,” Anderson said of the program. “We are going to earn the right to be involved in (people’s) lives.”
Katie Hayes: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.
Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.