Pallet shelter village opens in Everett, WA
July 16, 2021
City of Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin is thrilled a new Pallet shelter village is available to people experiencing homelessness. She's hopeful the new low-barrier shelter option will help people who have been averse to accepting services in the past. Unhoused people can transition out of survival mode and onto the path of stability.
"The only way you can get safe and recover from the traumas of life on the street is to get inside and get that little bit of stability," Franklin said. "That's what this program is going to offer, is folks the dignity of four walls, a roof over their head and a place to put their things, to rest."
Twenty 64 square foot Pallet shelters are located behind Everett Gospel Mission (EGM), a nonprofit organization providing shelter and comprehensive recovery programs. Three of the shelters are ADA accessible. EGM is the on-site service provider for the village, and will provide residents with personalized case management. Each shelter includes beds with storage underneath, personal climate control, and electrical outlets to power personal devices. Lockable doors offer a secure, safe environment. Bathrooms and outdoor community space are available. Residents have access to showers, a laundry room, and a cafeteria inside EGM's building.
The cabins were first offered to people living on the street in the surrounding area. Many of them are couples who wouldn't be able to stay together at a congregate shelter, segregated by gender. Sylvia Anderson, CEO of Everett Gospel Mission, is eager to provide a healing community where people can create a new life for themselves.
"We're trying to fill all the gaps so that people can come in where they are and then move to where they want to be," Anderson added.
In preparation for the site's opening, Anderson consulted with service providers at Pallet shelter villages across the nation. EGM hired a case manager and a part-time mental health counselor to work with the residents. The Pallet shelter village has enabled the nonprofit to utilize a harm reduction model. There are fewer strict rules to follow while one gets help.
"It's a very different model than what we've done before, but it's a necessary model and a continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness that we haven't participated in," Anderson said. We've been eager to do that."
Collaboration is essential in bringing a Pallet shelter village to life. At the Everett site, Pallet partnered with Construction for Change (CFC) to assemble the shelters. CFC is a Seattle-based nonprofit construction company building a sustainable infrastructure for other nonprofits across the world. The 20 volunteers who participated in the construction of this village were representatives from CFC, PCI Construction, Holmberg Mechanical, and McKinstry. Within hours the site went from a vacant gravel lot to a healing community for people living on the margins.
"It is central to the mission of Construction for Change to serve underrepresented and under-resourced communities and provide services that improve infrastructure in health care, education, and housing," said Dean Kato, CFC Director of Strategic Relationships. "It is our pleasure and honor to work alongside Pallet and improve community housing resources."
Snohomish County and the Washington State Department of Commerce provided grant funding for the site.
The priority for EGM is to get residents settled in before moving people to the next stage of permanent housing.
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