Addressing homelessness in Edmonds: ‘It actually is our problem’

Edited to clarify the city’s $550,000 human services budget includes the social worker, plus city update on police department role and status of homeless woman.

Being homeless in Edmonds doesn’t conjure up the feeling of an “Edmonds Kind of Day.”

But homelessness exists in Edmonds — the few people you see and the many you don’t. Now, the city is embarking on its biggest effort yet to respond to the homeless and people in crisis.

The Edmonds City Council just approved a contract with Compass Health to hire a full-time mental health professional; the first in Edmonds’ history. It also approved rehiring Koné Consulting to dig deeper into the scope of homeless in the city. These major expenditures are included in the $550,000 the city spent to create a new Human Services Division last year. That office has a lot of work to do.

The latest Edmonds homeless numbers come from that Koné Consulting study, delivered to City Hall in 2019. That study estimated 230 homeless residents in Edmonds. These are not people from “someplace else”; the study says that “the majority of people who are homeless in Snohomish County are from here originally.”

Here’s how the report calculated the homeless in Edmonds:

“Based on DSHS data on individuals receiving benefits, there are currently approximately 230 Edmonds residents experiencing homelessness, meaning they are without housing (ex. unsheltered or car camping), homeless with housing (ex. short-term hotels or couch surfing) or in an emergency shelter or domestic violence shelter.” (Koné Edmonds Homelessness Assessment – 2019)

The consultant also reported federal data that shows approximately 120 students K-12 who live in Edmonds are considered homeless because they don’t have a “fixed, regular and adequate” place to spend the night. Some, the study said, may be sleeping in a car, or are part of multiple families living together.

Now you see them — now you don’t

Arresting Charlie

We don’t “see” many homeless people in Edmonds. But “Charlie,” the homeless autistic man My Edmonds News recently profiled, tried to camp out here. That got him arrested in May, then released, and we have learned that Charlie is back outside, somewhere in Edmonds in his tent.

This woman spent months living on a bench along the Interurban Trail in Edmonds’ Lake Ballinger neighborhood. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Then, there is the woman who camped out on a bench located at 76th Avenue West at the Interurban Trail for several months with all her belongings. A man who asked to be described only as “an incredibly frustrated resident,” told My Edmonds News the woman could be belligerent, relating in one correspondence that “she was yelling at the top of her lungs ‘at the world’ for an hour tonight until almost 10 p.m.”

Shannon Burley, the city’s assistant parks, recreation and cultural services director, also oversees its new human services division. She admitted to that same frustrated resident in an email that the woman on the Interurban Trail is not considered a threat to herself or others; and that the city does not have a solution since the woman has refused to go to a shelter:

The shelter with availability is in Everett and accepts two people per day,” she wrote in an email. “So, she would need to stand up there and wait in line for an interview, if not accepted that day then come back the next with no guarantee of ever getting in.

“The women’s shelter in Edmonds has a three-month wait and Monroe is full. We are in constant contact with many potential shelter options, but I will be honest, while some exist currently, they are not necessarily good options for stability or security.

“On Friday alone we were contacted regarding four separate individuals who are unhoused and needed help. I would imagine (city) Council is being contacted quite frequently regarding this challenge.”

Then-Acting Police Chief Michelle Bennett emailed that same resident, saying the woman “refuses any form of shelter. Currently, unless there was an ordinance related to public camping, there is nothing more that we can do to help her but to keep offering her help.”

Edmonds does not have a “no public camping” law.

In both cases, Charlie and the woman initially rejected social services and refused to move. Edmonds police found a motel room for a couple of nights for Charlie, but when he returned to camp on city property, they arrested him for being in a park after dark. Police also did help relocate the woman to a motel for a night. The next day, a neighbor told us, she was back hanging out along Highway 99.

According to the city, the woman was accepted into a program run by a local non-profit that provides long-term shelter and wrap-around mental health and social services. “The individual willingly accepted the support and is no longer unsheltered. These situations are challenging and take a tremendous amount of time,” Burley added. “Thankfully this one had a happy ending.”

Everett’s experiment for those who are chronically homeless

The City of Everett does have a “no sit – no lie” ordinance. Earlier versions ran afoul of court rulings that being homeless is not a crime and that the city could not arbitrarily boot squatters off the streets who had no place to go. The difference this time: The city partnered with Everett Gospel Mission to create “pallet shelters”– tiny houses – on property behind the mission, so those asked to move do now have an option. And the no sit-no lie rule applies only to one small neighborhood, which has been a hub, the city says, for violence, intoxication and vandalism.

Everett Pallet Shelter (Photo courtesy City of Everett)

Everett’s goal is to bring some stability to the chronically homeless and then connect them with services. Jon Hull supervises the shelter for the Everett Gospel Mission. “They’ve been able to stabilize, find comfort and peace,” said Hull. Residents help each other out, he said, adding that “a number have had interest in getting a job, now that they have a door that locks and their own place. They start thinking about more than just surviving day by day.”

The city committed $900,000 in grants and other money for this pilot project. The homes are 8-feet-by-8-feet; the mission provides security and access to showers and a clothing bank. Within days of opening last month, the tiny houses were full – 25 people in 20 units. It is just one idea, but Julie Willie, Everett’s Community Development Director, said that “so many little outcomes can change a person’s life.”

Edmonds’ only options for chronically homeless – the ones we see – is to transfer them (if they agree to go) to communities that have shelters, and as the city’s Shannon Burley said in her email above, Everett only takes two people a day, and “the women’s shelter in Edmonds has a three-month wait and Monroe is full.”

Social workers and first responders

Under Edmonds’ new contract with Compass Health, the city’s human services division will hire a full-time mental health professional. City councilmembers told staff their priority is that the social worker will be “in close connection with the police department but NOT (their emphasis) how it was historically implemented” — in other words, not embedded with police.

According to Burley, Edmonds police participated in evaluating the selection of Compass Health and the development of the current contract “and we anticipate Edmonds PD having more access to our social worker this time around than the previous arrangement, in which Lynnwood had a significant portion of the social worker’s time. With Compass Health, Edmonds PD will have priority access to the social worker,” Burley added, “however we feel there may be additional time that the social worker can use to support the additional goals as laid out in the presentation for example:  homelessness prevention and housing preservation.”

The agreement also lays out that the social worker will “assist” police, fire and social services to help relocate people in need of shelter, medical attention, housing and other needs. What that assistance is has not yet been spelled out.

And, in the plan, Edmonds police are to “strive to provide additional safety during outreach which may have a potential for increased risk.” EPD will also “endeavor to provide transportation” in such situations. There are no details yet of how that would work.

That approach leaves Edmonds as the only South County community without a homeless/mental health response team embedded with or working exclusively with first responders.

City of Lynnwood health/safety outreach team

Lynnwood has a police sergeant and two officers in their outreach team, and the department shares the services of a mental health professional with Mountlake Terrace police.

South County Fire also has two specially trained emergency medical providers and a captain for its community resource paramedic program, as well as a mental health professional from Compass Health. The program was the first of its kind in the state.

Everett, with a much larger chronic homeless problem, committed four officers, a sergeant and three health staffers – a social worker and two community outreach staff. It is, said the city’s Julie Willie, a highly trained group that knows and understands trauma.

Edmonds’ plan

The city’s goal in creating a human services division is ambitious:

“This program is intended to serve Edmonds residents in need of assistance, guidance, and help finding resources across a variety of issues for the wide demographic spectrum that comprises our city.” (Edmonds human services division statement)

The goal is to provide help for seniors, veterans, the disabled, families, children, COVID assistance to small business as well as the homeless and those in mental health crisis. The division also has five long-term motel vouchers for “emergency shelter.” The city has also relied on several churches for emergency shelter and will continue to partner with them.

The social worker element of the program is a pilot project – a test contract through 2022 — with a price tag not to exceed $164,000 from now through the end of next year ($86,000 a year is the salary of the social worker). That person will work Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

In her presentation to the council, Deputy Parks Director Burley laid out the expectations:

  • Support for people in crisis (mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.) and separate coordinating services for those not yet in crisis
  • Housing preservation & homelessness prevention (affordable housing, planning, house sharing, etc.)
  • More frequent updates to council on the human services division

The 2019 City Homeless Assessment reported that “Family crisis was the most frequent response when people who are homeless in Snohomish County were asked what contributed to them becoming homeless, despite a common perception that most people are homeless because they have behavioral health issues.”

Homelessness by race shows disparities with Edmonds Black and Hispanic residents:

Edmonds Homelessness by Race:
                              Population  % of Homeless
Black      1%      11%
Hispanic      5%        8%
Asian      8.5%        5%
White      82%      66%

The new human services plan notes that adding a social worker takes the city a step closer to being able to establish “a regional collaborative approach to serving South Snohomish County.” It’s a strategy first laid out in that 2019 homelessness study, which highlighted a regional response as well as preserving existing housing and preventing homelessness.

The plan also recommends that “in the future, there is potential regional collaboration for a 24/7 social worker availability.” There is no timeline outlined yet for when the city would pursue that regional collaboration.

That frustrated neighbor who wrote about the homeless woman at the Urban Trailhead had a final thought: “The city is choosing and there is a lot of the focus on downtown, on an “Edmonds Kind of Day,” on Walkable Main Street and how big the trees are. (Homelessness) will be a massive issue for everyone here soon.” 

That was echoed by Everett Community Development Director Julie Willie. “Small towns still have this mentality or desire to get rid of the homeless people. It actually is our problem,” she said.

— By Bob Throndsen

  1. What qualifications and education does miss Burley have to oversee a human services department? What experience does she have in human services?

  2. I feel so sorry for Edmonds and the direction the city is headed [ala Seattle], but this is the direction that majority of voters chose to take in the last election.
    I hope Edmonds chooses a different path at the next election.

    1. Dave, another attempt to respond to your comment. Hope it makes it through. In my opinion, the voters simply consider the surface veneer of elected officials talking points. If they sound believable along with a polished look….their in! Once in…..they do the opposite of their promises and commitments. Even during council meetings the voters want to be heard and many in chambers have voted against the will of constituents desires. No wonder there is voter apathy, very low trust and it appears that’s what govt wants. Low turn out at council meetings. Numerous laws broken in Edmonds many of which are not going unnoticed. Sad that people voted for others who are betraying residents they took an oath to “protect and serve”.

  3. All the socialists are talking about the Vienna [Austria] model. Apparently it’s what Seattle has been trying to do. The idea is that all housing is appropriated and socialized. Poor and rich people live in the same building, each paying what they are able to for the same accommodations. Common laundry, common day rooms, common kitchens; like dorm living. These are the models our planners are admiring.

    It doesn’t stop at housing, but also prisons. I debated a socialists last week on how to reform prisons in the US, and the Norway model was their position. The idea is that prison reform is accomplished by making the prisons into premium living accommodations.

    I’m saying this next point because this article is couching race as a component of homelessness. Notice how the models that socialists point to are composed of mostly white and culturally homogenous people. There is a new type of racism that is absolutely pervasive, and once you see it – it cannot be unseen. It’s even been scientifically identified. It’s low expectations, mixed with mediocrity as a virtue, mixed with someone else’s money.

  4. A very good article, thank you for providing so much information. I know a lot of people who would like to think Edmonds is immune to such ‘urban’ problems. One big happy Emerald Hills family! That has never been true, and now it is no longer possible to live in denial. Not only are there people all around us who are homeless, many of us are just one misstep away from joining them. The chances of finding a real solution to the problem are zero since there is no money to be made solving it, but we can apply political pressure to mitigate it somewhat. Will we?

  5. This article was done after a conversation I had with Shannon. I mentioned I believe it is discriminatory towards elderly and children to have a social services office in Francis Anderson Center where any drug addicted or inebriated person can enter the building scaring children. (Think of the woman yelling at the top of her lungs). Some homeless in Seattle carry sharp objects and have been known to be violent. . Do you want that around our children and families. As Shannon stated, “there is a separate entrance in the building” I do not think that is sufficient to protect the general public. We talked about the homeless teens and she mentioned some are committing suicide. I stated most likely from Psychiatric drugs known as antidepressants and some drugs have suicidal black box warnings on them. As a former behavioral psychologist I have researched this subject and these drugs are extremely dangerous for young people. Most are not mentally ill, they need guidance. A shelter in Seattle I spoke with mentioned they can’t be in their shelter without their drugs!!!! While our city is sinking so much money into the problem it WILL attract more and more people from Seattle and everywhere for the “free benefits”. One social services woman in Seattle I spoke with called it “FREE-ATTLE”. (She works with homeless and drug addicted and she was beaten up). So…what will we call Edmonds as we no longer feel safe in our own community. When I saw the original report on homelessness, it stated the city could go after federal, state, grants, private money, I knew we head in this direction when I read it. “Follow the money” and you will understand why our city is following Seattle. If we continue to allow our government to do what they want…….we will no longer recognize Edmonds! Mayor is Shannon’s boss, put the social services office in City Hall!! Sadly our own gov’t is trying to destroy Edmonds as we know it.

    1. This is exactly why we are leaving….not just Edmonds but the state entirely. We can see the writing on the wall. If you feed the pigeons all you get is more pigeons. We expect the first vagrant encampments will hit the bowl within 6 months.

      1. Thanks for your comments Jeff. We will be sad to have you leave and I know that is what the govt wants! It’s very disheartening and most will stay until no longer tolerable but I’m hoping the rest of us will do what we can to throw the criminals out of office. It’s a violation of the constitution to not put the general population wellbeing first!!!

      2. “The pigeons”?! Those who are homeless are still human beings deserving of kindness, love and compassion. Your words are judgmental and heartless.

        1. Heather rather than broadcast your moral outrage why not invite the unhoused into your home? Why not pay their drug rehab expenses? Buy the food they need and cook them three square meals a day?
          It seems to me that if you and your allies would step up to the problem there would be no need for any government programs [with all the waste and fraud that goes with them]. Problem solved and the rest of the Edmonds taxpayers can enjoy the city that they have paid taxes for.

        2. Heather, you might also keep in mind that the human race is set to quadruple in one generation, from 2.4 billion to 9.6 billion people [1954 to 2050].
          Providing free housing, food, healthcare, and education for billions more people is going to prove to be completely impossible.

  6. The federal programs have failed. The state agencies and programs have failed. The county agencies and programs can’t keep up. Are we modeling our local program after these? Prepare for the cries for more funding. We have 15 federal food assistance programs, as an example. Are we allowed to expect results at some point?

  7. …also. I’m saying this part because I know by talking to homeless people. Dignity is usually more important than food, housing, clothing, education and work opportunities. Anyone with dignity left [or dignity in the first place] doesn’t want free stuff. This clip from NYC is making it’s way around and underscores this. Gets me in the feels.

  8. I see a whole bunch of “Socialism is bad” comments coming from the Right here as usual. (This comment does not mean I’m advocating Socialism or Capitalism or any other “ism.”). What I don’t see coming from the Right are a lot of answers to how we actually solve the problem of homelessness, which is really many problems lumped into one (drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, poor education, failure to control the problem of unwanted, neglected and abused children, property crime, domestic violence, general lack of respect for life and consideration of our fellow man, disrespect for the law and the courts, housing treated as wealth accumulation and status symbol, rather than just another basic human need). We need less ideological dogma and more practical answers and services that actually work to help people. I admit I don’t know how to do this perfectly without trying different things, until something actually works. Anti socialists, we’ve heard your complaints, now how about telling us your answers to solving the problem(s). I might just agree with you, and suggest we try them; if you really have any.

    1. I have some I think are quite good. But they won’t be used and it takes more words to explain. I do know that the plan so far is not going to work at all and we should expect many more arriving here before Fall…

    2. Clinton, I think it is an unfair statement to say these comments are coming “from the right”. That is presumptuous on your part as I am an independent who votes the issues not the party. When you have a government trying to reduce the standards of living of one group to give to another you can see the inherent problem with that I hope. Can you please look to Seattle of what not to do? Can you understand how we don’t want to duplicate that mess? Laws being broken by government officials all over the place! When that goes out the window….we have nothing. Allowing no prosecutions in Seattle for drugs, criminal offenses being let go, defund the police! Criminal prosecutions are for reform, Drug prosecutions to help enforce drug treatment etc. Yet, govt aren’t following Washington State laws. Who created the Opioid epidemic? Doctor prescriptions/drug companies/big pharma! Yet, we are left holding the bag. Lawsuits settled, will that money go towards drug treatment or something else or will taxpayers pay the piper? Why shouldn’t big pharma pay for the housing, the treatment etc? Why shouldn’t Big pharma and big doctor lobbyists figure out the solutions???? The taxpayers are not the targets. As long as Edmonds is giving out “free” benefits they had better expect something in return for the taxpayers. Like what??? How about citizens receiving help become less dependent on government by giving training programs/trade schools, require drug treatment or jail. Take your pick. Either choice you are actually helping the person. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach him how to fish, feed him for a lifetime. If you expect nothing from these people and you give them something for nothing, you make nothing out of those people. Everyone deserves to have self-worth by being a contributing member of society. That is how you fix the problems.

  9. Even in a supposedly rich county like America, life can be very harsh–in fact cruel. Homelessness in Edmonds is evidently not new–it goes back a long way. In 1917, Jesse G. Marshall, an Edmonds young man, did his duty and registered for the draft for WWI. He listed his home as a camp on the Edmonds’ beach, receiving his mail at the post office, working as a trapper, employed by no one, and employed everywhere. The federal government soon stepped in and solved his homeless problem, and Jesse Marshall’s found a home in the U.S. Army when he was drafted. Within a few months–he died on a battlefield, somewhere in France. Jesse now rests in a grave–the location known only to God. As a historian, I sometimes write with tears in my eyes.

  10. Here is a limited government answer; homelessness is a local problem. Washington DC doesn’t care, has limited jurisdiction and is quite obviously useless in providing answers. Olympia can be involved at an institutional level. Closing mental health facilities and cutting aid to families in need of assistance has been disastrous. We aren’t in a position where families can provide adequate care in all situations so we need charitable organizations, local and state agencies to work together. Mocking religious institutions for decades has weakened their ability to provide voluntary service. We are a generous country that has been sold the idea that government can provide. Enforcing laws, providing mental health care and having coordination among the few agencies we need won’t solve every problem but will reduce the feces in the streets. Lastly, KOMO’s specials on Seattle have been ignored by local leaders. Why? If something is working in Rhode Island, does that make it wrong for our region? We have a drug problem. Own it, it’s not unsolvable.

    1. The cruel reality of life is the more you subsidize anything the more of whatever it is you get. Throwing money at the homeless industrial complex is only making the problems worse. The only solution, which is inevitable in the long run, is a tough love, this is not permissible, approach and severe restrictions on those who cannot take of themselves.
      Look, sometimes in life there are no easy, everybody wins choices. Sometimes you have to take the least worst path and pay the price. The path now in Seattle and soon Edmonds is simply unsustainable.

      1. Dave it’s interesting you think you know a single thing about me other than I wish people would be kind. Take care.

  11. As Nicole Friedman explains in The Wall Street Journal, the housing crisis can be understood as a 20-year-old supply-and-demand problem:

    Between 1968 and 2000, the United States built an average of about 1.5 million new housing units every year. But in the past two decades, in part because of a slowdown during the Great Recession, the country has added only 1.225 million new housing units every year.

    Today, the country is 6.8 million units short of what was needed to meet new housing needs and to replace units that were aging or destroyed by natural disasters.

    1. You can look at this two ways.
      There is a shortage of housing or
      There is a surplus of people who want housing.
      There is only so much buildable land but the potential for unlimited population growth.
      Eventually you will end up with more humans than you can possibly house.

  12. How is the $550,000 budget allocated? How much is going to consultants as opposed to providing help? What kind of help is Edmonds providing?

    I have heard a number of times that homelessness should be dealt with not by individual cities but as a group effort with the county. Working together with other local cities reduces duplication of administrative functions. Is Edmonds working with other cities and the county or are we trying to create our own wheel?

  13. Clinton, I’ll give you an answer, from someone on the right…tough love. 1) divide up the people in 3 categories. 1) Drug and or alcoholics. 2) born mentally ill. 3) people who want a hand up. (Fallen on hard times.)
    When you get those numbers. Addicts – Use the billions we are flushing in this state to create mandatory rehabs in lockdown. Make that rehab mandatory
    . When rehab complete must repay time in rehab. (Helping others) If they won’t go to rehab..jail. Based on numbers, build or set up mental hospitals.. Old buildings, school or build new. People who have fallen on hard times or a Hand up..much smaller number..we get them the help they need.

    1. Joy, I think your three groups are pretty accurate. I don’t pretend to have the answer, or even a clue where to draw the line, but my grandmother used to say she’d rather throw away some money than miss a chance to help. I just don’t know how or when to say no, but your points are well taken. Still, I try to find a way by remembering the following:

      “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      “44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      “45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

      I’m sure I’ll get blasted for posting this, but I’m truly at a loss as to what is best or even possible, while trying to remember those lines.

    2. As a former knee jerk Liberal and now a confirmed centrist Independent leaning a little Left, I totally agree with you Joy. In the past I did quite a bit of religion based charity work an found that to get the charity to people who actually needed it, appreciated it and benefited from it, we had to waste a lot of precious resources and time on people who probably didn’t deserve it and were basically playing the system for all they could get. There wasn’t the time, energy or resources available to properly vet the people requesting help so we pretty much ended up just giving what we had to all who asked.

      The real answers to homelessness won’t be cheap, or easy, or based on some political thought process. The Right gave us closed mental health facilities, community based treatment (that somehow never materialized) and an end to endless Welfare (remember Reagon’s generalization about the “welfare queens” – covering racist and sexist imagery all in one label). The Left gave us shortened sentences for very violent crimes, right back on the street arrest and release for minor crime, and de-fund the police nonsense.

      In the end we have to figure out who actually needs help and can benefit from it and who can’t for whatever reasons. The answers won’t be the same for both groups. The state will have to provide some sort of baseline housing for those who simply can’t cope in modern society either temporarily or permanently. If you don’t won’t camp outs in the parks and public spaces, the police have to have somewhere to take the people they arrest. Not complicated but very complex. No easy or cheap answers available.

  14. Joy,

    If you want to get technical, treatment IS mandatory for those drug addicts in which you speak (I assume you refer to the individuals that use heavily, are homeless as a result of their drug use, feed their habits by committing crimes such as shoplifting, stealing vehicles, breaking into homes/businesses, dealing drugs, robbing people that are not a part of the drug lifestyle that work hard for everything they have, criminals of the sort that have no scruples, that will beat you within an inch of your life to get ahold of the $5 in your pocket, will potentially rape or murder a person and show no remorse or conscience of any sort) as a common requirement from the courts as a stipulation of that persons release from jail upon completing their sentence or as a factor of their probation. If the court sees they have a drug problem they will order that person to go to a treatment center for an evaluation and to follow thru with the recommendation from that evaluation which is always going to be at the least an intensive outpatient if not a full inpatient stay after which they are required to do continuing care such as intensive outpatient and then regular outpatient and then many times other programs like renewal or relapse prevention etc. If they don’t comply with these multiple levels of treatment then they may have to go back to jail for violating their probation. The problem is that making treatment mandatory won’t make a person do it if they don’t want to and it would be illegal to physically force them to attend. It would be a form of imprisonment. Even if they could, they still can’t force the addict to participate or apply the lessons to their lives. Only when an addict truly wants the help will they be willing to make a change. Until then, there’s no sense forcing treatment upon them as they will resist it entirely. I know this from personal experience. It will never be effective.

  15. Dear Residents of Edmonds,

    It may come as somewhat of a shock for you to learn this, but not all of the homeless population are criminilistic drug addicts. They aren’t all the bad guys. Even the ones who are on drugs aren’t always going to be these dangerous, psychotic criminals that you need to fear. I find it sickening to see how some of you treat the homeless. As if they are a plague that needs extermination. You judge them to be these cold-hearted, evil natured individuals and believe them to be greedy, careless sinners. A blemish on the face of this “great” city. Well allow me to enlighten you on the truth of the matter. Most of the homeless people people around here are kind, loving, selfless, intelligent, scared, amazing people. Their will to survive drives them. The things that they experience on a daily basis is enough to make any one of you break down and give up, crying for your mommies to come and rescue you. They have found a family within each other and go to great lengths to provide for one another. They relate with what each other have to go thru and for that reason they are willing to do whatever they can do and share what little they have with each other in order to keep each other going another day. They face the elements every day, they face constant ridicule from a society that has deemed them unworthy. Most of them are not out to do anybody any harm. They would be the first to offer their hand in help to somebody willing to accept it. The ones that rob, hurt, and destroy do so because they are wicked people and would be that way even if they weren’t homeless. You may have guessed by now but I myself am a homeless drug addict. I do meth and heroine. I steal food in order to eat. I still from stores to support my habit. I have done some dumb things in my pursuit for drugs but never hurt anyone.

    1. Doesn’t stealing from people hurt them? If you steal food from someone then what do they eat? What does it cost in tax dollars to deal with someone like you? Could the citizens who pay those taxes have a better use for that money, perhaps to spend on their own children?
      As someone who suffered a catastrophic stroke through no fault of my own and flirted with homelessness for 5 years but worked my way out of it even though I was broke and disabled I am afraid my sympathy for your situation is extremely limited. You might be a good candidate for some tough love rehab.

    2. Hutchinson, we do realize not all homeless people are dangerous. Homeless people need help and homelessness is meant to be temporary not permanent. It appears you are a professed drug user and what will it take for you to want to have help to change your lifestyle? The stores you steal from work hard to put food on those shelves and it cost them money too. Do you feel anything for them? Where do you get your money to buy your drugs?

      These are the cycles that have to change. It’s not fair to society that you are not contributing whatever TALENTS and GIFTS that you HAVE to the community. I imagine you don’t feel good about yourself using drugs. What will you do to change your destiny. If you want me to feel sorry for you and other homeless people, then you are asking me to victimize you that you are not capable people. I refuse to do that to you and others. Every person has something to contribute in society.

      Whatever led you to drugs it’s not meant to be forever. I hope you will ask for help for your addiction. To not do so is cutting yourself short and your community here in Edmonds. We want you to succeed and beat this addiction. You now have an additional person rooting for you!

    3. M. Hutchinson, It may come as somewhat of a shock to you to learn this: “stealing” from stores hurts everyone. We all pay for theft whether it be from someone’s home, or a giant corporation. You need to re-evaluate your life, I wish you strength, peace, and will hope for you to find the path to a drug-free life.

  16. Joy, you are spot on. To those who have had children you are wise to learn about “tough love”. It prepares them to cope and navigate in the world. Many homeless never learned these lessons that parents today do not teach. It truly shows in how today’s homeless reject authority and rules. They were raised with expectations of a trophy-for-everyone, participation is all that is required. Unfortunately the end to the draft was one of the worst things to happen in this country, as serving in the armed forces taught discipline and responsibility.
    On another subject, I have friends I served with in Iraq, who got addicted after experiencing the horrors of war, they are getting help but not nearly enough, our Veterans should be America’s First Priority.

    1. A lot of veterans now occupy the ranks of the homeless.

      The irony in some of these comments makes my head spin.

  17. James, thank you for your service and I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Along the same lines, doesn’t everyone deserve a 1st chance before we go handing out 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th … 20th chances? If there is only so much money to spread around do we feed and education hungrey children before throwing billions of dollars at repeat drug addicts?

  18. Addiction is addiction and mostly a form of easy self medication for damaged people for whatever reasons. We need legitimate medical and mental health programs that work for all the mentally ill and often addicted in our society. I agree that some tough love would be a very good thing and parents should quit making their children the center of the Universe – thinking they are somehow entitled to a great life just because they exist. Most people with a great life either inherited it or earned it and that’s just how it is.

  19. Is it really too much to ask of people seeking help from the government of the people of Edmonds to make some sort of positive commitment in exchange? Especially so if they have no previous substantial ties to the community as longer-term neighbors, taxpayers, property owners, or at least as family members of same.
    It is very hard to remain in a position where I am forced to be charitable to those who do not contribute to our community welfare and wellbeing themselves to whatever degree possible. In my (mostly ignored) book it is morally and conscientiously wrong to act in this way, yet it seems to be that I am at battle with my own government in its actions. Increasingly, and at all levels, it seems to be far less about compassion and charity and much more about the ability of government to exercise its will and power independent of its people. The path we are being shepherded on will undoubtedly lead to great pain and suffering for everyone at the end, through economic and social disaster, if not corrected immediately or even sooner. Whenever possible, we must act as individuals and NOT take the lazy and selfish path by channelling our remaining energies and resources through government. I’m sorry to get so maudlin about this, but my message is really one of love and not the well-advertised hate that we we all seem to cower from these days.
    If we can’t get our act together locally – as a community of people rather than as a government – there really is no hope at the state and federal levels. Concentrate on true charitable giving of time, goods, and money until it hurts. Spend time with people who need your help, and get to learn how they can give back. Truly care about someone, and the rewards will come in time.

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