Mayor announces formation of community task force to study homelessness

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson on Wednesday announced he is forming a Community Task Force on Homelessness. The group will be tasked with providing recommendations to the mayor “on how best to respond to the current and future challenges that unhoused residents face in our city,” the announcement said, adding that “the task force will balance compassion for unhoused individuals with the rights of all city residents in formulating potential near-term solutions.”

The task force is expected to provide recommendations to the mayor in early January.

“Homelessness is not a new issue in our city and region; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has put some people in the vulnerable position of losing their homes or facing potential homelessness,” Nelson said. It is crucial we help those most in need to find shelter and housing, which can assist in getting them back on their feet. I am eager to receive the task force’s recommendations to find workable solutions.”

The task force will focus on recommendations that include:

  1. Options for temporary shelter/housing for unhoused residents
  2. Options to revise the Edmonds City Code to address unauthorized use of public spaces
  3. Ways to assist vulnerable residents to prevent them from becoming homeless
  4. The task force expertise will be broad and will include members from the following organizations and potentially more:

The task force expertise will be broad, the announcement said. The only named members so far are Edmonds City Councilmembers Vivian Olson and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, but the group will also include representatives from the following:

  • YWCA Pathways for Women
  • Several local churches
  • South County Fire Community Resource paramedics
  • City of Edmonds (Compass Health) social worker
  • Edmonds Police Department
  • City of Edmonds Planning Department
  • City of Edmonds Human Services Division
  • Korean Community Service Center
  • Edmonds Senior Center social worker
  • City Attorney
  • Snohomish County Public Defenders Association social worker

19 Replies to “Mayor announces formation of community task force to study homelessness”

    1. # 2… Please clarify this. “Options to revise the Edmonds City Code to address unauthorized use of public spaces”.

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  1. The more money the City spends on “homeless services,” the more homeless people it will attract – particularly if sobriety and / or mental health treatment are not required to receive services. I’m a former social worker and I know that giving free stuff without requiring rehabilitation makes homeless peoples’ lives worse, not better. Just look at the ruined city of Seattle for proof.

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  2. OMG, another “task force” ie., committee, to study a problem that has been with us for eons, just more visible and recognizable now. Of the listed potential participants, it looks like a group of NGO’s and social services organizations and city bureaucrats that all have skin in the game. The city might be netter served to look at what the city of Everett and Snohomish County are doing about this problem instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel. More wasted time and money. Lots of talk but little action to show for it.

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  3. Homelessness is a symptom and result of any number of unsolved social problems. These can be economic, health, substance abuse, domestic violence type problems or combinations of them all. What the homeless generally need is some sort of basic temporary and safe housing option while they try to get whatever social problem(s) they have resolved. That is, assuming they know they have a social problem and want to get it solved. There are, of course, some people who refuse to admit they have a problem and don’t really want to alter their chosen lifestyle in any meaningful way.

    I tend to see the homeless as our own internal “refugees” from life and reality problem which cannot be easily solved anymore than international refugee problems can be easily solved. You can’t solve homelessness until you get a handle on all the things that cause and contribute to it. In the meantime we will have to provide some sort of humane public housing and services or just give up our parks and public spaces as Seattle and other major cities have done. Someone will have to pay for all this. No one will want to. There won’t be any simple or cheap answers to this. One answer would be to build more human cages which seems to be the desired solution and option coming from some areas of the political spectrum. That too will cost money. I’d like to see large regional housing and treatment centers, so our police and fire persons would have some place to take these people when they have to roust them from the public places. Otherwise, all they can do is move them around from time to time which won’t solve anything.

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  4. Millions have been spent for years still no answer. People have a choice to be homeless. (The majority 80%) are addicts. We would have been smarter to build in-house mandatory rehabs. No one wants to make the hard decisions. So we won’t. We build free apartments, and the dealers move across the street from them. Place trashed in a couple years. Then to make ourselves feel good we do it again. Bottom line addicts need to be locked up so the dealers can’t get to them and they can’t hurt themselves. ( and maybe just maybe some will sober up.). They would sell their kids to get drugs. (Been tried and worked multiple times.). There will always be poor…someone very famous said that…you know who??

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    1. Ms. Trevino.

      I know some homeless people, almost all of them veterans (mine is perhaps a skewed sample set). Not a one of them made a conscious choice to be homeless, and very few of them are addicts. They don’t need “mandatory rehabs” or to be locked up; what they do need is some compassion, and the sincere belief that someone cares about them. Finally, none that I know would sell their kids to get drugs, but some would probably sell their own souls to stop the pain (approximately 18 do exactly that each day in this country).

      So, how about we not generalize and compartmentalize, as we all search for a solution? Many of these people don’t just need, but also deserve our help. They earned it. Remembering that is not too big a lift.

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      1. This should be the shortest lived “Task Force” ever!
        Basic Solution/Action:
        1.) Enforce the existing laws:
        “No camping/living on Public Lands”!
        2.) Encounter homeless individual; options, transport to private site, or jail overnight.
        3.) Record each encounter details into data base.
        4.) Future encounters: Repeat 1-3, until individual gets the message.
        Exception: Compassion towards veterans, transport to VA Treatment Center.
        “What works? Tough love, only thing that will work!” (Joy Trevino)

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        1. Moving the problem out of “your” city is a common response. You and I know this just makes it someone else’s problem. Whack-a-mole is not really a solution. Frankly this is a national problem and the United States is not interested in solving it. Bottom line is it will not go away in the foreseeable future.

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        2. Mark Waldin: Agreed! However, addressing the problem with “money”, will only invite more. “Tough Love” by Edmonds and other communities will make living on the streets impossible. Forcing a decision: either get help, or move on!
          There are lots of treatment options available, but they have to own it!!

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  5. On July 31, 2021, I emailed Mayor Mike Nelson and City Council and asked:

    1. What is a Task Force and how does such differ from the City’s Advisory Boards and Commissions governed under ECC Title 10 BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS?

    2. Is a “Task Force” subject to the Open Public Meetings Act?

    3. Are Task Force documents, emails and text messages subject to Public Record requests?

    4. Is the conduct of members of a Task Force governed by the Edmonds Code of Ethics like the conduct of elected officials and appointed citizen volunteers serving in an official capacity (i.e. Boards and Commissions)? If not, why not?

    5. What Edmonds Ordinance(s) governs the formation and use of Task Forces?

    Maybe I should have also asked if Task Forces are required to include citizens of Edmonds and how those citizens are chosen.

    I informed all 8 elected officials that MRSC has reported that definitions of an advisory board differ among jurisdictions. MRSC provides two examples that illustrate the differences in practice.

    The City of Port Townsend includes task forces in its definition of advisory body and the City of Lynnwood excludes them.

    I informed my elected officials that a search of Edmonds City Code as well as a search of the proposed Council Rules of Procedures fails to find any discussion of Task Force. I asked if a Task Force is a “Work Group” as discussed in Resolution 1306? The term “Work Group” is also not found anywhere in Edmonds City Code.

    I concluded by asking:
    -Why does City of Edmonds government fail to address important concepts like Task Forces whereas other Cities do address such?
    -Is leaving Task Forces mysterious and vague in the best interest of our citizens?

    None of my questions have been answered by any of my 8 elected officials.

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  6. Paul, this is an area I actually know more than I care to. Look at statistics across the USA boards. You will find my addict numbers correct. Some higher some lower but very close. As a child who expects to be homeless? However if you were to walk into most homeless camps and ask if they would like a job and clean place to live but no drugs, alcohol etc, they would not go. About 20% need only a hand up which may be your friend. But not the majority. Contact some charities downtown Seattle you can see for yourself. Volunteer you will see for yourself. I have done both. Lost my first husband to addiction…almost my son until God came to his aid. What works? Tough love. Only thing that will. Go to a Alanon meeting..research.

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  7. The big issue for those of us who are able to lead regular, non addicted and reasonably economically secure lives, is how do we get our parks and public spaces back, or keep them open and clean in the first place? Personally, I’m tired of seeing tents and blue tarps on every inch of public space and getting pan handled at every place on the public highways that I’m obligated to stop. (That one is simple to solve if everyone just quit giving them money).

    If we can afford to spend 3 trillion dollars to basically lose a war in Afghanistan and get a bunch of American Service people killed, maimed and mentally damaged, we can surly afford to solve this home grown problem of homelessness. That money would have provided a basic home for every homeless person in America and then some. The fact is, we just don’t care enough about these people to provide a space and the basic needs of life to them. If they want to use drugs or booze to feel better, just let them do it cheaply and put the criminals and drug lords out of business. We did it to Al Capone and we could do it against all the El Chapos of the world if we wanted to. It’s going to cost a large fortune to do this right whether you build public housing or more prison cages. Tough love will cost more than no love at all, which is what we have now.

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  8. Mayor Nelson is so desperate for a Woke issue to hang his hat on…he has high political ambitions and Edmonds is only being used for a starting point.

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  9. I don’t see a single taxpayer on this task force. All are going to be members representing some constituency. Something is seriously wrong here.

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  10. The just previous Mayor and Council established an Edmonds Housing Commission which pretty much studied the various problems, talked about them and spaced it all pretty much, when Covid struck. Now we have a new homelessness task force in the making that will just re hash it all over again. It’s like watching the Groundhog Day Movie observing this governmental farce we have going in this city. City government reform task force? Count me in on that one, if we ever wise up and have one.

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