Near the City’s parks, under bridges, and in other hidden spaces, Snohomish Public Works staff have mapped and cleaned up six known homeless camps in the past few years. Last week, they added another location.
City Public Works Crews and Snohomish School District employees teamed up to clean up a recently found hang out area along the trail from Avenue A at 6th Street to the Snohomish Aquatic Center. Staff cut back vegetation and trimmed up trees to reduce hiding places and make the area less desirable.
Citizens living in the area can help by keeping an eye on the area around the trail.
- Call 911 for emergencies or 425-407-3999 to report a non-emergency to police
- Report garbage or illegal campsites to City Hall at 360-568-3115 or via an online report form
- For help finding support services, call 211 to reach the Volunteers of America
Staff found the remnants of 4 separate camps in the brush. The clean-up effort cost the City an estimated $3,000 in staff time and equipment cost over two days. The cost estimate does not include the several school district employees and equipment involved.
Also last week, City staff heard a presentation by Sgt. Ian Huri from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office of Neighborhoods Homeless Outreach Team. The team takes a pro-active approach to helping people who are homeless. The county realized that the “lock ‘em up” approach just resulted in repeated and expensive jail use for people who had complex problems such as heroin addiction, mental health issues, and difficult life situations.
“There’s other ways to solve this problem,” Huri told City staff. With the help of a social worker, Huri’s team helps people who want help get into detox centers and stable housing. The officers try to build rapport and relationships with people in homeless camps, offering them services before a camp is closed. That way not everyone displaced by a camp closure will just move on to the next town.
Most people participating in the Sheriff’s Office program finish detox, and more than 60% have finished treatment and found permanent housing, Huri said. The Sheriff's Office has found ways to fast-track entry into treatment programs and affordable housing that can take months of waiting in normal circumstances.
“Homelessness is a complex, frustrating and difficult problem,” City Manager Larry Bauman told City staff.