Letter to the editor: What’s next after a homeless fund?

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Editor:

As predicted, like a flock of pigeons, advocates for servicing the homeless anxiously spoke before the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night encouraging them to pass a $250,000 budget amendment without any plan for a regional homeless fund.

Remember, these people are advocates for servicing the homeless; they are not tasked with ending homelessness. Imagine what would happen to their livelihoods if homelessness didn’t exist anymore.

And in typical Edmonds City Council fashion, after publicly recognizing that Seattle budgets $35 million for the homeless, the Edmonds City Council had to get their 2 cents in (and a few dollars more).

This is not the last we will see of our tax dollars going toward servicing a growing problem; no, this is just the first down payment.

Homelessness in Edmonds is a growing problem spreading from Seattle. Get ready to see garbage, drug paraphernalia, sleeping bags in the alley ways.

So, if you are walking along Edmonds Way or a trail in Yost Park for instance, and spy a dome tent somewhere in an opening, be comforted in knowing that we are building a sanctuary city, diverse in population and that the tent will never reach three stories in height.

And if you should find one of these tents on your parking strip or in your side yard or in your backyard, contact Edmonds Police Department, Non-emergency at 425-775-3000 and a social worker will be contacted to come do a welfare check.

But have plenty of parking available because you may soon see a patrol car, a fire engine (with or without ladder), an aid car followed by a fourth vehicle transporting the social worker. These agencies thrive on servicing not only your needs but the needs of the homeless, which makes it so very convenient to grow the homeless population and live here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Jeff Scherrer
Edmonds

44 Replies to “Letter to the editor: What’s next after a homeless fund?”

  1. Well Stated!!! My view exactly!! What our elected officials aren’t saying, Most 90% of these addicted homeless do NOT want to get off the drugs or enter a rehab. So what is the plan? Throwing money to the county? Until a REAL solution is offered, yes, expect lots of tents cities popping up. Now, how do you think these addicts are “paying” for their addiction? How many will want to come to this city littered with needles, and sewage, in our parks? You NEED a plan, stop it before it completely gets here. It’s close, I’ve seen several here already. I’ve seen the drug buses (old broken down RV vehicles selling drugs) parked around the outskirts of our city. They are breaking the law. Take to jail and FORCE rehab. May save a few. In short, make a plan.

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    1. I’ve worked with tons of people who are functioning alcoholics. I worked with a functioning heroine addict (an electrical engineer). These people can hold down jobs and raise their kids. There are many organizations that exclusively hire people with mental disabilities, give them jobs they can do. There is a Venn Diagram of substance abuse and mental illness, with homelessness, so they are related, but not causal. Cause-effect seems to be more that people with substance abuse issues are criminalized (Bill Clinton won the War on Drugs), instead of treated more clinically. It’s pretty easy to be homeless if you are pinched, gotta get to court dates, have a record so you’re unable to get a job over the table. Usually when money is allocated to “help the homeless”, it’s given out in a way that actually attracts homeless and creates dependency, but doesn’t address causes. This is what progressive cities actually want, dependency. If someone one is on the outskirts of town in a bus, using drugs to hustle, there’s room in society for that.

      Here’s a good watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhFKPZqFd3o

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  2. Jeff, you did an outstading job of explaining a cause chasing a problem that is not a major issue in Edmonds. It will become an issue now that ther is money involved and advocates have to justify their existence. The money would be better spent on drug interventions and law enforcement support.
    Jack McRae

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  3. There are two types of homeless people: the economically homeless (lost a job, home foreclosed on, etc) and the mentally ill homeless, which includes drug addicts. We will never be able to solve the problem of the mentally ill homeless until our mental health system is in order and our mental health care system will never be in order until our health system is in order.

    I am speaking as the father of an adult, developmentally disabled schizophrenic son who would probably be one of the mentally ill homeless if my wife and I did not have the economic means and health care insurance to take care of him.

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  4. Your letter is rude and dismissive. Like a flock of pigeons? Accusing people of only being interested in keepijg their jobs? Honelessness is a complex problem, not easily solved. Many factors in our American healthcare system make it hard for people to sustain themselves, from struggling with high medical bills, losing insurance, untreated mental illness, and yes, drug addiction.
    Refusing to help does will not make the issue of income disparity n America disappear. Rehabilitation help is not readily available within our current system. 60% of homeless are not involved with drugs or alcohol. I prefer to help those I can and appreciate Edmonds budgeting money for that. Perhaps you could focus on working on a plan that will help and will avoid “tent cities”.
    I think your true colors show when you lump in your dissatisfaction with the budget expenditure with sanctuary cities, diversity, and zoning laws.

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  5. On excessively cold nights, Edmonds Lynnwood area churches provide a shelter for the homeless. My wife and I have cooked dinner there a number of times. I suggest you all volunteer there so you can meet these folks. They don’t match your prejudices.

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    1. Rick, thank you for the volunteer work you and your wife do as well as the first hand perspective on the humanity of our homeless citizens.

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  6. Homelessness is a complicated and growing problem that deserves some resources before we get to crisis point like Seattle. With rents sky-rocketing everywhere, there is little option for those in crisis to work their way out of problems. This will be a growing problem under current economic conditions of low wages and high cost of living. Homelessness IS already on our door step as the homeless hide in plain sight on our streets and in our parks. They are not just users and abusers. They are school children and their abused mothers hiding in cars. They are veterans. They are young people who have been abandoned by their families. They are neighbors who couldn’t withstand a personal financial crisis brought on by health problems or other emergencies. There are no easy answers, but providing services doesn’t make the problem worse, though it maybe just makes it more apparent to tax payers. I am certain Mike Nelson and the rest of the Edmonds City Council as well as police and social workers can work toward a solution that helps our most desperate and provides peace of mind to property owners. Burying our heads in the sand won’t solve this problem or keep it from “creeping in” to pristine Edmonds.

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  7. FYI the homeless problem HAS reached Edmonds. I’m on the board for Washington Kids in Transition where we serve the hundreds of homeless students in our school district. Yes, hundreds of kids. In the Edmonds School District. Just within the first two months of this school year, we provided 84 nights of motel stays, over 900 small bags of supplemental food for McKinney Vento bus riders, rental assistance for three families, utility assistance for one family, and monthly food to Beverly, Scriber, Cedar Valley and College Place schools.

    With the skyrocketing cost of housing in the Greater Seattle area this problem is only going to continue to grow. Many families are just one job loss or one health crisis away from being at risk for homelessness. Far more than I think you realize…even here in Edmonds. I applaud our city leaders for being willing to allocate funds so that we as a community can work toward finding long-term solutions to a very complex issue.

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    1. Kelsey, Thank you for your work with Washington Kids in Transition as well as your valuable perspective on how homelessness is impacting children and families in our district. I agree with you that we need long term solutions and I too support the leadership of our council in making this priority and setting aside funds so that we are able to take action once a plan is in place.

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    2. Thank you Kelsey. I hope people read your post and educate themselves on what homelessness really looks like instead of making assumptions.

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  8. Speaking from one of the pigeon’s points of views, as named by the writer, I would like to address a few misstatements made by him.
    First, not all of us who spoke at the city council meeting work for homelessness programs or agencies. I am a business owner, who volunteers, as many of the other speakers that evening do. Many of the speakers with churches and other organizations would rather do other work other than providing one of our basic needs in life: shelter.
    Second, homelessness is not “growing from Seattle to Edmonds”, it is here. They are our veterans, our citizens who have had a health crisis or a mental health crisis, our working poor and families, our women with children fleeing abusive households.
    Third, the rising housing costs and the unfair, discriminatory housing practices create further burdens and limited resources on families and agencies who support temporarily displaced people. It is more complicated and requires a comprehensive approach.
    Also, as for the addiction comment made on this thread. Addiction is a disease, a brain disease. It is not an issue that has been successfully treated by incarceration. Incarcerated drug addicts actually cost the tax payers more in the long run. The criminal justice community has been studying the correlations with mental health, addictions and incarceration for years. You can access their information here:https://www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Criminal-Justice-2012.pdf.
    Basically, the recommendations by the experts are: stable housing creates stable people which creates the impetus for people to get the help they need (addiction/mental health).
    Thus, the EPD, First Responders and Fire Co. are already responding to the calls, and by creating resources this will allow them to continue to protect and serve. Let me challenge your thinking- so do displaced people not have the same rights to local services as the rest of us?
    Finally, if you really want to form an opinion about homeless people and the why’s-then volunteer at the cold shelter, our local churches or one of the local programs. Then, let’s talk about it.
    I want to thank the City Council for putting people first. It’s good to see empathy in our local government.
    Peace to all,
    Donna Murphy-Dahlstrom

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  9. I support and thank City Council for putting this in our budget and am so grateful to all the community volunteers who work hard to help who are suffering in our community. Thank you to all of you for the unpaid work you do daily and for responding here to provide informed perspective and counter an opinion that feeds on fear and mistrust.

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  10. Jeff. You are right. Slush funds are just aid, given out without a plan. The old lady that feeds a stray cat population behind the car wash has great intentions, but her actions actually exacerbate the problem. Direct aid to anyone who needs help creates dependency on that aid and a less robust society. Only private charity has the legal ability to scrutinize needs, means test individuals, and prioritize. No one gets on the right track by being handed a place to live. There needs to be $300/mo living spaces, run for profit, paid by people who keep their dignity as they incrementally improve their situation.

    The #1 issues with homelessness is that it is illegal to do marginally better than homeless. If someone homeless got a decent camper to live in until they could afford an apartment, if they parked it in a public space, they’d be towed. If they went from hustling to working over the table, their wages would be garnished for things like back-child support. If someone wanted to build a tiny home in their backyard and charge $300/mo rent, the codes wouldn’t allow it, the tax burden and reporting wouldn’t be worth it and the City wouldn’t zone it. People are relegated to a tent, and still that is taken from them for their own good. I don’t blame anyone for accepting their lot in life given that bow-wave. In general there are so many programs designed to create affordable housing, yet housing keeps getting more expensive. That’s cause and effect, not effect and solution. Deregulate, de-zone, decriminalize being poor. Seattle is doing the opposite of that.

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  11. For goodness sake, I’d be ashamed to sign my name to such a mean-spirited letter, and during the Christmas season when we celebrate the birth of a homeless child.(and if you don’t think Jesus was homeless in the stable in Bethlehem, you have more to learn about what homelessness is.) Thank you for letting us know who you are, Jeff Scherrer. What a shameful letter: likening those who came to the City Council to speak up on behalf of those less fortunate to a flock of pigeons, and suggesting that the dedicated pastors and social workers who spoke up for them are doing so to prolong their own livelihoods instead of out of a true sense of caring. (A word to the money grubbing: becoming a social worker and convincing cities to allocate funds for homelessness is a great way to make your personal fortune! Don’t overlook it in favor of more traditional routes to riches.) Your letter smacks of such ignorance that any attempt to address it will almost certainly fail to provide the breadth and depth of education about the issue of homelessness you would need to be able to join this conversation in a meaningful way. However, myriads of caring people above have tried anyway, and I hope you will pay attention to their charitable attempts to educate you. One point of clarification I would add is that the idea is merely to set aside the funds so that they are available when the council makes a plan to deal with them. Nobody is saying that we should throw money at the problem with no plan. This is just a straw man you have created to make your argument sound better. Stop it and join us the rest of us in reality instead of having a tantrum. This isn’t the time or the season.

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    1. Seattle had money and a plan, yet they made homelessness worse. Seattle is the case study in what not to do with a big basket of money. Nobody is arguing that Seattle is making things better. Jeff isn’t saying that addressing homelessness is wrong, he’s just pointing out that the plans we’ve seen thus far (plans made by good people who care and are trying their best) are failing society. Maybe Edmonds is somehow way ahead of the game by having no plan at all, but that’s being pretty optimistic/unrealistic. Is Edmonds prepared to do something different? I hope so, but it’s a big risk everyone is paying for that could erode public trust if fumbled like Seattle did.

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      1. Of course the city will need to study best practices, and plans to do so. I don’t see Jeff proposing any kind of realistic ideas or doing anything except promoting sterotypes, massive generalizations, and insulting as many groups as he can with as broad brushstrokes as possible. What a waste of everyone’s time. If there is anything that those who help the homeless and those who could not care less about them agree on, it’s that solutions should be effective. That the likes of Jeff Scherrer should have the effrontery to think that a bunch of liberally scattered insults amount to a worthwhile proposal is laughable. Those closest to the problem are usually the best informed about how to solve it. Mr. Scherrer failed to mention his (surely formidable) chops working on this complex issue: perhaps someone can share a copy of his nuanced and compassionate letter with his pastor and the two of them can join those of us who care about others to try to find a viable solution.

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        1. Kassie, I know Jeff. He’s a great guy, but I can see he’s frustrated. Outside of saying things in a way that could easily be taken wrong, he does have a point about how the “system” that gets created to help often ends up needing those they help more than the other way around. If Edmonds follows Seattle’s lead, then there will be a homeless industry here too – and more customers. A helping-yet-self-feeding industry develops. Even in industries like healthcare, disruptive technologies and medicines have a difficult time being adopted because cures and cost savings mean less revenue and jobs. Every healthcare provider that treats cancer would find themselves in a bittersweet situation if cheap cures were actually found. Regulators and industries are overly critical of alternatives that lead to less jobs and revenue. Birth Control pills cost a dollar to make, and are as safe as aspirin, but government makes woman get a doctor’s visit and prescription. It’s a “caring scheme” designed to care about woman’s health, but also gets money [tongue in cheek], and leads to more pregnancies, which leads to more caring, and criticizing any part of it is easily demagogued into “you don’t care about women”. Any business that has a use-it-or-lose-it budget year over year should know first hand how even good people often create false justification for additional spending. I would have to work hard to find it, but I once saw a presentation given by the USDA about SNAP. They had a graph of the numbers of people needing food stamps year over year [and it was more and more], and the room full of government workers was applauding the increased dependency on SNAP. All of them want food in people’s bellies, but they’re happy instead of sad that more people need help every year, which begs the question. Mother Teresa, in a bit of a macabre way, thought the suffering of the sick had a utility; without suffering there wouldn’t be as much religious contemplation. There was a positive feed-back loop between suffering and well-intentioned donations for hospices where more people can be left to suffer. Based on what I’ve read about Las Angeles, the city seems to pride themselves on their homeless population and the optics they can create around handing out just enough help to keep homeless people dependent. More homeless, means more money to help them, means more taxes and regulations which hit the lower earners hardest, more superfluous jobs to deliver the help, and the whole system depends on a steady supply of homeless people. Is there a word for this phenomenon? I Donno, but there should be.

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  12. Mr. Richardson did a great job of highlighting what some of the challenges are in combating homelessness. As one who has been working with key veteran organizations on identifying solutions for “solving” the housing issue, we continue to be met by governmental red tape. Government likes it’s programs – when King County allocated more money to address homelessness, the homeless population grew. Those of us who work closely with social services know that people send their homeless here (Greater Puget Sound) because we throw money at the issue. We aren’t solving the issue – we are throwing money at it.

    So what are the solutions?

    We’ve suggested tiny homes offered with trade skill programs and rehabilitation programs. The land is “too valuable.”

    We’ve suggested shipping crates. And there were several voices in King County who stated that suggesting we “house” people in modified shipping crates was inhumane. Yet…that is considered a “luxury” for us veterans when deployed in some 143 countries across this great planet.

    The temporary fix? For those on the verge of losing their home, there are programs to keep you housed. It is cheaper to provide short-term relief and keep you housed than let you hit the street. But be prepared. It is a slog of paperwork. The challenge is, many government programs won’t help you until you are…yep…homeless. But check out FamilyReliefServices.org;

    Rapid Rehousing programs – run by Catholic Community Services – in Snohomish County is good. But can only serve so many.

    VASH Vouchers – but many go unused because we don’t have housing – or the housing is far from adequate.

    The real fix: For some, it means they have to move to more affordable areas. And you need to get a job. It may not be the dream job, but you need to work.

    When sequestration hit, my contracts were frozen. I had a meager contract to provide services to support our military and veteran families. Not enough to cover the mortgage. So while I was “motivating” our troops, autographing books, and encouraging families to pursue excellence, I was cleaning toilets at night…and so was my wife. Talk about Cinderella Man.

    We lost the house. Moved into a rental that was a previous “grow lab” and started to rebuild. Yep, we had some family help – but we worked. Whatever it took.

    Today I serve those who are struggling. I’m certainly compassionate – but throwing money at it is NOT the solution.

    My grandfather taught me: when your backbone meets your stomach, you’ll work. Show me you are working, and I’ll help you.

    For those who can’t help themselves…there are plenty of programs. But unless we “mandate” they stay in a program, they are free to sleep and shoot up wherever – especially in Seattle.

    Bottom line: we need to be creative. And it starts with zoning.

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    1. Whoa! Lets meet up! Please write to me at [email protected] Id’s love to help on some of those zoning ideas.

      I am a vet of the Air Force. I have a [not well thought out] theory on why so many vets [even peace-time vets] have a tough time. In the military there is a custodial relationship. Everything from food to housing to healthcare is provided. Then when vets get out, they not only leave a fraternity that was their entire life, but they also have to fend for themselves. It’s like releasing a domesticated dog and telling them, “go be a wolf now and find a new pack while you’re at it.” It was a big blow to me when I got out of the Air Force and tough to adapt. My wife and I were sorta homeless for a while and we were lucky to get work out of state (I called and begged a lot of companies for a job). There were no margins for error and the first two months rent checks were very late. For those not so lucky, The VA hospital scheme seems to give vets a false sense of the same custodial relationship the had in the service. It’s something they feel they have a right to (which they do) and they rely on it, but it lets them down, keeps them chasing appointments, and maybe they’d be better off if the VA never existed at all. I could get healthcare at the VA, and there were was a time I looked into some treatment, but it was easier to just go to the private sector out of pocket, and time is money.

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      1. Oh, and I lived in a tent for a total of two years in Abu Dhabi. The officers lived in shipping containers. I know what you mean. $200-300 per month rent, self funding, tiny-houses is an immediate near-fix solution.

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  13. I am overwhelmed by the commentary. I will only make a few comments on the MANY thoughts out there. I volunteer at Trinity Lutheran Church Neighbors In Need Program. I have done so for about 9 years. I am not a member of that church, but believe very strongly in the program.
    Do some people game the system? Sure. But they are more visible doing it than corporate, religious, political people that do the same thing.. Many people are homeless,not of their own doing but as many reasons as one has freckles on one’s face. It is my observation that the majority have mental health issues, either contributing to or caused by other issues. We need a better mental health system. And, it is my opinion that a veteran who is homeless is a national disgrace. Send them to fight, but don’t help them out afterwards–that is not saying much for us as a nation. Do I have all the answers? No, but let’s try and figure out what we can do instead of throwing stones at each other.

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  14. DS you are right about finding solutions vs arrows to toss. The homeless fund is $250,000 and the challenge is to use it wisely and begin to help the issues of homeless in Edmonds. Here are some basic ways to help:
    1. Build community shelters
    2. Build small size shelters that get folks off the street and out of tents.
    3. Rent subsidy vouchers.

    I am sure there are others but these seem like the easiest and fastest to accomplish.

    Then we need to figure out who we want to serve. Since this is Edmonds money then we could probably start with Edmonds homeless. If we have more money then we could use it for other than Edmonds people.

    Here is where I would start:
    1. Any student going to an Edmonds school who does not have a place to stay. Not talking about kids staying with a friend or a relative, talking about kids who do not have a roof over their head.

    2. Then we could move to Vets in Edmonds. We would just need a way to use the funds for Edmonds Vets.

    If we have funds beyond the needs in 1 or 2 then we could work on other groups.

    First step may well be to identify how many folks we have in the 2 categories and then choose from the 3 ideas list first and see what is left. The 3 housing ideas will likely require some zoning changes and council can handle that issue. The people served issue is pretty easy to determine with the various groups who have a good idea of the two types of folks listed.

    So lets have some real discussion on how best to spend the money and who we should serve. I would hope we are all smart enough to be part of the solution like Ms. Sacks suggests. Let discuss ideas and solution and leave our weapons locked up somewhere else. It is time to get to work.

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    1. Darrol. Really good comment. Your first suggestion works. A past colleague of mine took in a kid that was his son’s friend in HS. His parents fought a lot and there was a custody battle that left him without a place to stay. Under the table, he took in the kid for a couple years until he was an adult. Otherwise he would have been on the street, or at best in a sponsored home, which don’t have a very good track record. You’re right about zoning.

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  15. Matthew, I think you are agreeing with my comment that we need to find ways to provide housing for kids. The choices I suggested are Community Shelters, Small Shelters to allow kids to get out of tents and into something more substantial. I am not talking about kids who are already “doubled up.” The 3 suggestion is some form of rent subsidy for apartments or hotel/motel. For the entire Edmonds school district we have 74 kids already in Hotel/motel situations and 25 kids who are labeled “unsheltered” Since these kids are from all of south Snohomish county then those that are Edmonds kids would be far fewer. Maybe in the range of 8-15 kids. Using the 250k to help these kids seems in order and likely would not make a big dent in the 250k. Once these kids are taken care of we can move to Edmonds Vets.

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    1. I agree with that too. Taking care of kids is always custodial relationship and, in situations like that, subsidies are appropriate. All kids depend on others to survive. The latter situation though, regarding adults of able body and mind, there’s no need to make them wards of the state via subsidy, but that is what is happening in Seattle. Adults have to be robust and the dignity of earning everything you have is a social currency that can’t be subsidized. A point I make most often about mental illness and substance abuse is, I know tons of alcoholics that hold down jobs and raise kids. I know of vets who have PTSD, but are able to manage their disorder and hold jobs. There are plenty of able-bodied and stable-minded people who are homeless. The biggest entry barrier to leaving a tent to getting an apartment is that there’s no incremental steps available along the way; its too big of a jump to make all at once. Both of my boys never had training wheels. The latest science on this is to get kids scoot/balance bikes that teach them to balance so that your kid never relies on training wheels. Then, once they are old enough, they get a big bike and the only skill they lack is pedaling. Both of my kids kicked and screamed that they were afraid of falling because they couldn’t put their feet down. I held the seat to get them started, but I also just shoved them down a hill and said, “good luck!” Both boys had the basic skills to balance on their own because they never had training wheels (a.k.a subsidies), and [most importantly] the balance bike teaches kids how to balance and fall. Both my sons only took 30min to learn how to ride a pedal bike, but I know a lot of kids their age still on training wheels. Just about anyone I know who receives subsidies is afraid that if they do “too good” , then the training wheels will be taken away. It’s not an irrational fear.

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  16. When Dorothy Sacks suggested we try to discussion possible solution I took a stab at some ideas on who to serve and how to serve them with the homeless fund created by the Edmonds city council. At this point only one person has added to that dialog and now we are right back at the point that we are talking about everything except potential solutions. I was hoping to stimulate some discussion of possible solution as Dorothy suggested but I feel like the Lone Ranger in the discussion of solutions. Ops, I hope the diversity commission does not attack me for the use of the name Lone Ranger.

    I have some other ideas to share for the kids and the vets but not very fun talking to myself.

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    1. I would say explore what some of the agencies are currently doing instead of starting from scratch and/or reinventing the wheel. There is a misconception that programs geared towards the homeless are only focused on building shelters, which is not the case. YWCA, for example, has programs around permanent housing, support services for veterans/families and economic empowerment ( https://www.ywcaworks.org/programs ). Finding ways to partner, financially or otherwise, with these orgs are always welcomed.

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  17. Did I miss something on the ballot…was the homeless fund ever on the ballot? e.g., ‘Consent of the Governed’ …. etc.

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    1. No their was not requirement for a ballot measure to spend this money. We elected the council and they are authorized to create a budget and spend money. That is what they have done. They can spend money on street overlays, sidewalks, parks or create set aside funds for homeless. So now that we have the fund it would be useful for the public to make suggestions of the best use of the dollars. I would like it to be spent on Edmonds homeless issues and not other areas. So do you have any suggestions on how best to use the fund for Edmonds?

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      1. Setting aside funds for such causes(opiates, homelessness), no matter how well-intentioned, is overreach and beyond the Council’s area of responsibility. It needs ballot input and ‘Consent of the Governed’ …it is the peoples’ money!

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        1. Council has the authority to set aside funds for purposes they deem necessary for the city. We elect them to do those sorts of things. They can set aside money for street overlay, parks, animal enforcement, parking enforcement, sidewalks, the debt on the performing arts center, taking down the grandstand in civic field and a whole host of items. The probably have some duty to do things for the benefit of the citizens of Edmonds. So if they want to try to deal with the homeless with a fund I would just hope it is for Edmonds homeless and not for some other jurisdiction.

          I was just hoping to get some conversation on how best to use the money for the stated purpose for Edmonds residence. Tradition methods are not working for issues like homeless, so just tossing money at the problem without some new ideas may not be productive. My point is it is pretty easy to identify the unsheltered kids going to an Edmonds school and try to find new way to fix that problem.

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        2. ‘Council has the authority to set aside funds for purposes they deem necessary for the city.’ without a plan?? — This would be an interesting judicial issue!

          The list of items that the City Council does have purview over like “street overlay, parks, animal enforcement, parking enforcement, sidewalks, the debt on the performing arts center, taking down the grandstand in civic field” have plans, many with a starting point and ending point.

          Small public (the Peoples’) money designations without plans, e.g. 250k (drop in the bucket WinkWink), rapidly expand without limitations and soon become mandated overflowing buckets…and might kill the “Golden Goose”.

          Volunteer groups and charitable organizations serve the social needs far better than local government funds with resulting interference.

          Just sayin’…

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  18. Darrell:
    I would be glad to help. However, I do not drive at night, so meetings would have to be in the daytime for me, until nights start getting lighter.

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  19. Thank you Darrol for the solution design and organizing the wish list for those that could to utilize this fund to continue their good work. I and most citizens are all for more effective action than we’ve seen to date, to address addiction and homelessness. Your comment about us electing council members for this type of money allocation, to me seems off base.

    I don’t elect anyone to take my money, without my consent, to stash away for later use upon their discretion. I do elect council members to thoroughly question and evaluate information provided by professionals, city employees or not, to then make the best decisions on my behalf. Sometimes I agree with their decisions, sometimes I don’t. All, we should care about is are decisions being made based upon facts or good intention.

    Nothing proposed, indicates our city council nor the mayor will rely upon the research and evidence of success provided by industry professionals. It’s just our money sitting someplace awaiting the best sales pitch.

    If the city can organize a Diversity Commission and Salary Commission made up of citizen volunteers, why not ask the Diversity Commission or council members to organize a Homelessness/Addiction Commission? There are countless awesome citizens of Edmonds that are professionals in this field, which could actually bring fact based recommendations to the city council to determine funding appropriations.

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  20. Ed, Thanks for your comments. Chance of Commission on HL/Ad is near zero. City has work group looking at affordable housing and they have homeless on the agenda but not addiction.

    Setting aside funds issue. Not my preference but it is legal and if we want to vote out the council members based on that one issue we have an opportunity in 2 years. That won’t work because we will all forget or base our vote at the time on the issues at election time. So if we cannot vote anyone off the council for 2 years and we have set up the fund we have some choices.
    1. Sit around and complain about what council did.
    2. Let the fund go to the best sales pitch.
    3. Try to create some ideas to work on some solutions.
    1 is fun but does little unless the public gets involved in mass like Sunset Avenue, Tree Ordinance, or Crumb Rubber. Then the elected take some notice, maybe do something and if what they want is different from the masses hide a bit and find a way to get it done with the least controversy.
    2 is nice but traditional organizations while doing a good job are not able to fix the full problem.
    3 is what I tried to do earlier with proposing some ideas to get some discussion on potential solutions.

    $250,000 is a drop in the bucket if you try to approach the total homeless issue. My thought was to keep it local for Edmonds homeless and try to find a way to at least fix some problems. School kids should not be “unsheltered” we have 25 in School district covering SW Snohomish County. I can try to find the data but my guess is Edmonds is about 25% or less of the kids in the district. If the unsheltered kids are evenly distributed then that would mean we have 6 or 7 Edmonds kids unsheltered. The district knows who these kids are and may be able to help us understand the range of solutions that may work for these kids. For starters the fund if used just for the 6 or 7 kids would $30 to $40k per kid. We ought to be about to figure out how to help these kids for that kind of money. If we can find cheaper ways then we would have money to spend on homeless Edmonds vets! Shelters either individual, family, or group type can be a start.

    We can all complain about the issues of the homeless in general but I find it difficult to believe we cannot find a way to help the 6-7 kids/families who are in Edmonds with the new funding. I few the problem to be us the tax payer, blogger, critic, elected. We all like to talk about stuff but few are willing to do the hard work to get much done. Shelters for example are good ideas if they are not near our homes and neighborhoods. The not in my back yard (NIMBY) issue is not discussed.
    The bottom line is the elected did create a fund with no direction. If we just sit here it will be spent and likely not fix much of anything. I was just trying to find a way to help the Edmonds unsheltered kids and maybe even some vets.

    Ignored

    1. Thanks again Darrol for the thoughtful response. I agree with you, the train has left the station and proposing sound solutions for existing funding is easier than attempting to create funding with the city from scratch.

      I also believe your thoughts around starting with children first, should be easier to garner support by a long shot. Finding those willing/capable families in Edmonds could be increased by incentivization to participate. Some people may have the physical assets to participate, but the additional cost of utilities, living incidentals and food could be the deciding factor. A monthly stipend for sponsor/host families from this fund could be very inexpensive, compared to building/creating new infrastructure. Best of all, we get these kids under a roof, war, clean, fed and prepared to fully participate in school ASAP.

      Keep thinking all. It seems like Matthew and Darrol are well on their way and open to ideas. I trust getting 6-7 kids off the street ASAP will have a greater societal impact than no longer using plastic grocery bags.

      Ignored

  21. I have a whitepaper in the works which will provide way for affordable housing, and low income housing, which wont cost the taxpayers anything. It will require some deregulation and maybe a small amount of civil disobedience. I’ve fielded the plan with a couple people on different sides of the spectrum, and so far the biggest criticism has been that people from Lynnwood would move here to take advantage of lower rents (…the critique wasn’t intended to be a complement, but I took it as that). Affordable Housing is a Newspeak buzz-word. George Bush, even, campaigned on subsidizing mortgages to get every American in a their own home. The more help there is for housing, the more expensive it it is. Prices have gone up up for everyone, and we are at the peek of a housing bubble which will hit Seattle and Austin TX harder than the rest of the country. The chief issue with homelessness, and people trying to afford a place to live on a fixed income, is that cheap housing options are not allowed. The task is to list cheap housing options, identify parts of the building codes (which aren’t laws), bottlenecks in the permitting process (often controlled by appointed people), and state and county rules which prevent those options, then work with the city to provide a safe space for fixed income people to pay their own way. If it’s a great idea (TBD) then other cities will follow suit. I’m going to pitch the plan to Lynnwood too.

    Ignored

  22. I look forward to seeing your ideas. You are correct that it will take some give and take to make things like this happen.

    Ignored

  23. Recently I read an article by a man who has lots of experience with the homeless problem. I WISH I had cut out the Seattle Times article because he seemed to have some good ideas. It will be good to have people with original ideas get together. Also other areas have had success and we can learn from them.If anyone recalls the article and has his name he should contact My Edmonds News. Teresa can then pass on the information to those interested.

    Ignored

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