Property behind Faith Lutheran Church will be used to host eight Pallet Shelter units for families in Everett. The shelter’s permit is good for one year, with two potential annual extensions. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Property behind Faith Lutheran Church will be used to host eight Pallet Shelter units for families in Everett. The shelter’s permit is good for one year, with two potential annual extensions. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

New Pallet shelter village for 8 families gets permit in Everett

Faith Family Village will house and provide services for 90 days, through city and federal funding.

EVERETT — A temporary shelter for homeless families is moving forward in Everett.

Hearing examiner Sharon Rice on Sept. 12 approved the temporary shelter permit for Faith Family Village. The site will have up to eight Pallet shelter units for families with children 18 and younger in the back yard of Faith Lutheran Church at 6708 Cady Road. At most, 32 people can live there at a time.

Interfaith Family Shelter, a housing and social services provider in Snohomish County, will work with the residents and manage the site, Executive Director Jim Dean said in an email.

The hearing examiner considered 30 public comments.

“We have overwhelming support for Faith Family Village,” said Roxana Boroujerdi, director of the adjoining Faith Food Bank who has led efforts to establish the shelter.

Most of the comments were in support, and came from businesses, church leaders and neighbors.

Rodland Toyota already donated furnishings for the residents, director of operations Lindsay Crow wrote.

“Too many families with children are living in (unsafe) areas where crime, drugs and mental issues arise and these pallet homes will provide safe shelter for kids and their parents to live while they get back on their feet,” Crow wrote.

Shelley Bryan Wee, a bishop for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in northwest Washington, wrote that housing “the poor” is a way for Christians to “follow Jesus.”

“What better way to do this than to provide shelter for those without homes,” Bryan Wee wrote. “God literally calls us to do this work. Faith Lutheran is not just talking about this, they are doing it — through their food ministry and now with the Pallet homes.”

Five comments opposed it, saying they worried about crime and drug use, or losing the “feel” of the single-family residential neighborhood.

“I’m concerned that the temporary occupants of the shelter will park their unsightly RVs along nearby streets and invite homeless friends and family to stay with them in the same area,” Friedrich Stegmann wrote. “This could then start a vicious cycle of creating a fully-fledged homeless encampment outside the walls of the managed compound.”

Two comments shared concerns about the number of people sharing the units, the location of playground equipment and privacy for neighbors, among other worries.

Cynthia Derks, a neighbor, questioned the durability of the units and the safety of putting four people into a 100-square-foot unit. She also asked if child care would be provided, since children are not allowed to be in the units without a parent present.

Boroujerdi said they could arrange child care for families who need it.

Groundbreaking is tentatively set in mid-January, with families moving in by February, she said.

“We hope between now and January a lot of the homeless families will be able to find some kind of shelter,” Boroujerdi said. “I was disappointed that we couldn’t make this happen by Christmas.”

The hearing examiner added four conditions to the permit, including the installation of sight-obscuring evergreen trees or fencing at least 6 feet tall along the neighboring property lines. The permit lasts one year, with up to two one-year extensions.

Residents can stay for up to 90 days. During that time, the goal of the program is to find the families permanent housing, identify how they want to “pursue homeless recovery” and address the children’s needs.

The site will use the low-barrier housing model, which does not require sobriety, but will not allow alcohol or drug use at the property.

Referrals will come from the county’s coordinated entry program, the Everett Police Department’s Community Outreach and Enforcement Team, faith groups and schools. Priority is based on the length of time a family has been homeless, their medical conditions, special needs and family makeup, with an emphasis on those whose most recent ZIP code is within Everett city limits.

There will be a curfew for residents, unless their work requires them to be out later or have approval from staff, between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. Quiet hours are 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Families can’t cook in the units, but will have access to a communal kitchen and refrigerators in a nearby building. Two units with a shower, sink and toilet made by Pallet Shelter will be on-site as well.

The city plans to spend up to $450,000 of the $20.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money it got toward the project, city spokesperson Julio Cortes wrote in an email. U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen secured another $245,560 for it as well.

Boroujerdi was looking for neighbors to join an advisory committee that would meet regularly to address any issues that arise from the shelter and to share information about its progress.

Now the project is pursuing other utility-related permits with the city.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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