Letter to editor: Call to action regarding Edmonds hotel for those who are homeless


A call to action to Snohomish County Council: Tell them Edmonds is not the best location for homeless housing for the drug-addicted community and not without a certainty of safety and health for the majority of our community. There are laws that must be considered. Please contact Nate.Nehring@sno.org and Stephanie.Wright@snoco.org as she is in charge of covering our area.

The Koenig Consulting Firm reported the majority of those who are homeless in Edmonds are drug addicted. If our representatives truly want to help heal those who are homeless and drug addicted, this would be a treatment center instead of a homeless shelter. Children won’t be allowed so it’s for adults and couples.

The issue we are facing is not a red or blue. It’s a community safety issue. Where there is drug use and sales, there is crime. Where there is crime, there are victims, injuries and yes, even death. There is collateral damage of innocent businesses and residential neighbors. With community buses running into downtown Edmonds, be prepared for some negative impacts. Even without this hotel, I was harassed twice in downtown Edmonds and all my years in the community, this never happened before.

I spoke with the Human Services Department in Snohomish County. There are no policies in place for resources yet, with the exception of Compass Health providing services to only their clients for mental health and who have insurance and they can refuse services. Anything goes? Speak up.

Cynthia Sjoblom

  1. Oh good grief. Stop the pearl clutching and spreading myths about homelessness. The majority of folks who are homeless do *not* have substance use disorder, and even for those who do, having a safe home is the first thing needed to increase public safety, for EVERYONE. We are ALL safer when people can meet their basic needs.

    1. Take time to read this article. Lynnwood will rent out beds to Edmonds and surrounding communities with the new “Justice Center” opening next year on 44th… Lynnwood talks about rehab etc that will be offered, but it’s a money grab for Lynnwood in many ways. Will it help the incarcerated, the drug addicted and/or mental health afflicted?.. or the city’s pockets!? https://lynnwoodtoday.com/commentary-say-no-to-a-new-jail-for-lynnwood/

  2. Cynthia, your concerns and thoughts are well founded. Providing shelter in hotels without the requirement to be in a treatment program is throwing tax payer dollars away. This newest effort by our elected officials to help the drug addicted homeless population is neither compassionate nor a solution to homelessness. It is simply enabling a destructive way of life and enlisting tax payers to become partners in perpetuating lunacy. If we want to stop the continuation and cycle of drug addiction, we must have treatment.

    1. Agreed. Tolerating drug abuse and all its consequences is not at all compassionate. With this current plan, we will prove the adage that a culture will have as much drug abuse as it will tolerate. Real compassion would, at minimum, require mandatory treatment for drug abuse/mental health so that the person trapped in the cycle can be wholly restored, with a fighting chance of making good personal decisions in the future. We’ve tried tolerance. Let’s try some tough love.

    1. I suspect she meant to refer to the city’s study on homelessness, which was done by Kone Consulting. That’s posted on the city website at https://www.edmondswa.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_16494932/File/Government/Departments/Human%20Services/Homelessness%20Study/City%20of%20Edmonds%20Homelessness%20Assessment%20Update%204.15.22.pdf
      According to that study (p. 24-25), the percent of homeless who are or became homeless due to mental illness and substance abuse are each less than 50%.

  3. Excellent letter. We moved to Edmonds to escape the crime/drug ridden city of Seattle. Now, it appears that Snohomish County wants to import these problems to Edmonds and the surrounding area. Why, I ask? So we can feel good? The contractors are getting rich off of our “feelings” and doing nothing to solve the problem. Just wait until a resident is injured or killed and see how the do-gooders “feel” then. It is time to stand up and not just say “no” but HELL NO!

    1. Thank you Edward! I agree and just an FYI, Stephanie Wright is stepping down so email nate asap. Thank you!

  4. I agree! This is a bad idea. SR99 is a busy highway and this could lead to more highway deaths. We need a treatment facility to send the addicts to.

    1. Thank you Myron, edward and cynthia. We do need morw treatment facilities! This hotel shelter has 55 beds but if it was a treatment center they could have 2 beds per room. We have 425 homeless most are drug addicted so what happens to the rest of those there are no room for? What will all the cont’d costs be to Edmonds citizens? Not enough answers from “leaders” Perpetual tax increases with no end in sight.

  5. Where would you prefer the homeless sleep? In front of your house? SR99 is the perfect location for housing for the homeless and there will be wraparound services to connect the homeless with substance abuse and mental health services as well as services to help access more permanent housing. This is a first step to help stop homelessness. I fully support the purchase of this motel by Snohomish County.

  6. Thank you Cynthia for saying out loud what many of us are thinking. Housing minus treatment does not solve the problem and, in fact, only says “keep doing what you’re doing and let us pay for it” and also invites more of the same to come to our area. Please don’t waste our taxpayer money! Discover the root of the problem and provide services. Do not provide free housing without stipulations to address addiction and mental health.

  7. I live a few blocks away on the east side of 99 and welcome this new addition to my neighborhood for people in my communities who need the services offered. I will be looking into volunteer opportunities at the new space

  8. Cynthia, thank you for drawing attention to this. I was appalled that the Snohomish County Council ignored the input from Snohomish County Citizens concerning purchasing two hotels for the homeless. A number of citizens called in to the August 17th general legislative session to express their concern. The citizens requested they hold off on the vote, to do more review, set up requirements, e.g., no drug or alcohol, required treatment for substance abuse, insure onsite treatment, etc.. Any program to give free housing to homeless requires accountability. As we know, from news articles such as the KOMO documentaries on Seattle, 80% of the homeless are on drugs. They have just opened up more violence on tax paying citizens in Edmonds. Crime will escalate in these areas, open drug markets will be created along with human trafficking. As just reported in an Edmonds News article 8/24 “In January, in that same neighborhood, we reported on a four-month crime wave that Edmonds police told us was “the most violence we have ever seen.” Most of that took place next door to the Best Value Inn, at the Emerald Best Motel.” Vote these irresponsible council members out!

  9. This is just another NIMBY position. If this hotel was a few miles up the road in Lynnwood or North Everett we would be hearing crickets on this locally. The truth is we need this hotel, more free and/or inexpensive drug treatment, beefed up law enforcement around the hotel (put the cop shop where the problems are, not just downtown Edmonds) and some sort of low cost drug delivery system to put a halt to the black market in drugs along with it’s proliferation of crime and violence. Think Prohibition and how well that worked. As long as Mexico and most of South America are run by drug lords, and we are the willing buyers of their product, this problem will persist. So far we have been putting band aids on a slashed artery.

  10. I am concerned for Snohomish County, we should be learning from King County that enabling addicts to continue the spiral until death, with out treatment is not kind or a loving act.

    Snohomish County will see more crime, while we have a shortage of Officers. There was a home invasion in Everett which ended with a young mother killed for what? Petty cash for a fix? Stabbings, shootings and robberies are common in Seattle, because of the drugs and what comes with it.

    Addicts need to be treated with compassion and tough love not enabling, ask an addict if shelter without treatment will fix the problem. Is the County committed to help and heal or to enable to death? The people of the County need to know that all citizens are valued and will feel safe.

  11. I’d just like to remind us all that these homeless, addicted, and mentally ill people are Americans. And many of them are United States combat veterans. We have a very long tradition of inadequately funding and making care inaccessible to those who need it most. The current state of things is a “Made in America” problem, exacerbated by poverty, despair, and the flooding of communities with opioids by US pharmaceutical companies for profit, creating tens of thousands of new addicts.
    On top of that add the apathy and revulsion of many of our better-off citizens who would just as soon consign our most vulnerable to fenced off enclosures far away from the business district and the views out their windows.
    We, the People, collectively allowed the current state of affairs to become our reality. We need to take personal and collective responsibility for changing it for the better.

  12. I worked with street kids and homeless adults. ALL of them either had an addiction or a mental health disorder – many had both. You can’t diagnose and treat the mental health disorders until you get people sober. The most cruel thing we can do is give homeless people free stuff without requiring substance or mental health treatment. King County / Seattle spent $900 million last year on no-strings “homeless services.” The result? The homeless wallowed in misery, and the taxpayers were robbed. The “homeless services providers” got $900 million for making everybody’s lives worse, not better. These programs are destructive. Only tragically gullible people and cities support proposals like this – where homeless people will never get better, and our communities will be ruined.

    1. Jeffrey, you are one of the people that should be listened to because you have been there working with the homeless, and know what you are talking about. First, if there are truly homeless people whom are not addicted, but need a place to live, that should be easily ascertained, and they should be given housing priority. The ones who are addicted to drugs and alcohol need in-house treatment, where they cannot leave the premises to continue their addictions, and then transitioned to permanent housing when they are stabilized. Mentally ill people need in-house treatment to stabilize their illness with therapy and medications, and then transitioned to permanent housing. All of these people should be given training or education to be able to get jobs to become contributing members of society and have the dignity to take care of themselves. I think $900 million should go along way to be able to do all of this. If we could just see some progress in anyway that helps this situation, I’m sure no one would object to the money being spent for the “homeless”.

      1. Connie, is your thought that addicts and homeless families should be housed at the same facility? How about their children? Also, did you mean that addicts go through treatment at the facility under lock and key? My point prior was that I did not think a site on a busy highway may be safe for homeless families and their kids,
        plus the addicted people. I think we should make a deal with a low cost housing owner to just house families until they get back on their feet. Having everyone housed at one facility may not be appropriate and we should avoid it. I still don’t know if you can keep them against their will.

        1. Myron, no, I do not think that homeless families should be housed together with addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill. 3 or 4 separate facilities, one for each of these situations. $900 million should cover it. As far as keeping them against their will, we must help those who will not, or cannot help themselves. I think it is more cruel to let them languish outside without help, than to get them into treatment. If we actually talked to ex-addicts whom have gone through treatment, and come out on the other side, we just might learn the best approach to this problem. Talk to people who have been through it. That’s a big problem in our country right now. We don’t talk to each other to come up with the best solutions, that we can all agree on, for all of the problems we have right now. No one wants to compromise for the best solutions. No one has all the answers for any situation.

  13. Not every person that is unhoused has a mental health and/or drug problem, and many do not make themselves visible for “counting” or disturbing the peace. Please stop making them instantly connected and broaden your narratives. There are way more people permanently housed that have suffer from these same afflictions.

  14. The bottom line is that absolutely no one can point to an example of this method of problem solving having actually succeeded. It isn’t working in LA, San Francisco, Portland or Seattle. The problems are only getting worse and the geniuses behind them are the only ones benefiting. Treatment is at least a different course of action. It will be discarded because it doesn’t have 100% success rate by the people getting rich off of homelessness.

  15. Thank you Jeffrey, Cynthia, Denise and others. I live close to 99 and do not feel comfortable going shopping there at night. Theft goes on in the stores with no consequence whatsoever. I have been approached in the parking lots more than once or money. People need help I agree but giving residence, without restriction is not help.

  16. I’d like to see a little more specificity as to who exactly is getting rich off of homelessness. A few people are getting rich off drug and alcohol sales, legal and illegal, but these sales just create a lot of problems for most of us. We are mostly all victims of this trade to some degree. But who is actually getting rich off the homeless problem?

    People with comfortable incomes get their drugs and alcohol legally and don’t generally go to jail or die young for their addictions. Poor people get their drugs and alcohol illegally and tend to go to jail or die prematurely for their addictions.

    There are half truths and generalizations throughout this thread, but there are facts too. Sobriety and housing are a prerequisite for any solutions to the problems these people exhibit. Not all homelessness is drug related, but drug related homelessness causes most of the problems for society. Law enforcement and jails alone won’t solve this. We’ve been doing that since the Nixon era and it obviously doesn’t work.

  17. I hope this works but I have reservations…

    The homeless that have the best chance of transitioning back into society will stay clear of this or any other hotel/shelter. They understand the safest place for them to be is away from these places (especially homeless woman and kids).
    The hotels purpose is to check a box, spend federal money, and act as a place where we can send homeless to.

    Also, no one else has mentioned this but there is a youth hockey rink behind this hotel property. We will see how that goes.

    The county is desperate to find solutions that work and so I don’t blame them for trying this and other things like tiny houses. But this building will attract more of the homeless in you don’t want and push the homeless you do want out. I predict the percentage of drug addicts or mental issue homeless will rise once this building opens.

  18. Transitioning the hotel to housing for homeless is a step forward. Rehab facilities are few and far between for the PRIVATELY uninsured. If you are on ACA (Obama Care), our state’s plentiful private rehabs centers stopped taking your insurance. They consider it state or Medicaid regardless if you are gainfully employed and paying a monthly premium. Many employers do not offer health insurance and those workers are forced to insure through the exchanges. I have a friend who is a partner in a substance abuse business. Up to a year ago they could get their clients insured under the ACA into many treatment centers all over the state and country. No longer. We have a rehab facility crisis. The state funded rehab facilities are under funded and the facilities struggle to keep employees and the needed programs to help the addicted recover.. It’s a discouraging scenario for mental health and substance abuse counselors.

    1. Connie, thanks for a little dose of reality here. If you believe some of the stuff being put out here, you have to believe a small army of counselors like yourself just want to take in gravy money by perpetuating the problem. People believe what they want to believe.

      It will take the free to very inexpensive housing, way more free to inexpensive mental health and substance abuse counseling and a free to inexpensive supply of drugs, alcohol and housing for those who won’t or just can’t accept help and treatment in a controlled setting. Without these three approaches, the problem will never end.

  19. I think the important thing here for people of all viewpoints is to focus on clearly defined actionable items.

    Saying that you don’t want homeless shelters in the area in my opinion has less of a chance of being affective than focusing on how to mitigate the primary concerns.

    – Crimes at local businesses will go up. We need consistent meetings with local businesses to make sure that any repeat offenders are not given space at the shelter.

    – Hard drug use will need to be specifically checked for. Onsite support services shy of full treatment centers should be provided, and a three strike policy should be enacted.

  20. I spent five years as a social worker, much of it working with street kids and homeless adults. I also volunteered for eight years with the Crisis Clinic in Seattle.. Housing without treatment undercuts homeless peoples’ will to recover. Failed homeless programs give housing and free stuff without any ground rules. Successful homeless programs require the homeless to be evaluated and treated for substance and mental health disorders, or they receive NOTHING. The agencies that want to provide housing etc with no strings attached? They want homeless people to stay disabled, so the agencies can keep cashing in. Rehabilitation hits them in the pocketbook, and they don’t like that. Again, Seattle and King County spent $900 million on “homeless services” last year, virtually all of it without requiring treatment or rehabilitation. The results are obvious to anybody who looks. Those who support no-strings homeless programs are tragically gullible.

    1. Well said! Addicts who enter then facility should agree to confinement and treatment! An open door policy will fail! Thanks for your input!

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