Site selected for low-barrier housing project in Everett

EVERETT — A site has been selected for a planned housing project for chronically homeless people in Everett.

The proposed location is a 21.5 acre parcel off Evergreen Way in the Glacier View neighborhood.

The land, with an official address of 6107 Berkshire Drive, is also the site of the Everett Fire Department’s training center and the city’s Reservoir No. 3.

“It’s right now the best location we’ve been able to find,” said deputy city attorney David Hall, who has been leading the process.

The city has put out a call for potential bidders to develop the project, which is envisioned as a 60-70 unit building with office space for social service agencies and a front desk staffed around the clock, seven days a week.

The hope is that there will be enough interest from developers that a bid could be submitted to the city by early June.

The project is estimated to cost up to $14 million, of which the city has secured about $3 million.

The city’s portion comes from a $1 million grant from Snohomish County and an expected $2 million from a legislative appropriation. The developers’ proposals also have to identify funding sources for the remainder of the cost, Hall said.

Mayor Ray Stephanson’s administration decided to build low-barrier housing as part of its Safe Streets Plan.

The project has adopted the housing-first model, meaning that those individuals living there will not be required to be sober or otherwise in some form of treatment in order to maintain a roof over their heads.

The intent is to get people into housing, and then provide case management on-site as the residents need or want it.

The planned housing facility will only provide services for the residents, Hall said, not a drop-in services center.

“There’s not going to be a stream of people going to the building,” Hall said.

Another element of the housing plan has been to put 20 people into units at scattered sites around the city. Originally, the goal was to have that many in housing by the end of June.

The city launched an incentive program with the YWCA to provide local landlords with incentives to offer units to people on the city’s CHART list of priority candidates.

The people on the list account for a disproportionate use of resources, such as police, jail and emergency services.

Finding homes for those people has been a slow process, however. So far, only four people have been placed into those units, city prosecutor Hil Kaman said.

Another three people have been identified as candidates for the program once units have been secured. For the time being, those people are either residing in treatment facilities or with family members.

“It’s very challenging in the current rental market,” Kaman said.

The vacancy rate is about 2 percent, so even with secured rent and city-backed remediation funds, it’s tough finding landlords willing to participate.

“What this really highlights is the need for a capital facility for this population,” Kaman said.

The city is accepting developer qualifications only through the end of the month, after which it will solicit formal bids from those who meet the minimum requirements.

The city’s tight schedule is being done to allow potential developers to apply for the current round of federal Section 8 housing vouchers by a June 14 deadline, Hall said.

Design of the planned housing facility will be largely up to the developer, provided it meets the needs of the housing program and doesn’t interfere with firefighter training or reservoir operations.

“The process will allow a lot of public input into the design of the facility,” Hall said.

If everything falls into place, construction could start in late spring of 2017, he said.

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

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