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Edmonds study on ‘hidden homeless’ comes as surprise to locals

Blockable home is being placed at a church in Edmonds, WA. (Blockable)

It’s no shock that the city of Edmonds — like most cities across the country — is dealing with their own version of the homelessness issue. What was a bit shocking was a report in the Everett Herald suggesting that the problem has been hidden.

Plenty of people — including some folks in the city council — aren’t aware of the scope of the issue. Edmonds City Councilman Dave Tietzel joined The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss what the new Edmonds’ homelessness study found.

“In Edmonds, its not as visible as the homeless problem in Seattle or Everett,” Tietzel said. “We see people camping in vehicles, along our streets, in Church parking lots. We see people living week to week in motels. A number of folks are couch surfing.”

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“We don’t have a high number of folks that are actually living on the street; they are here, but the number is relatively small compared to cities to the north and south.”

According to the Everett Herald, the study by Edmonds-based Kone Consulting found that there are at least 230 homeless Edmonds residents, and that a third of households are spending upwards of 30 to 50 percent of their income on housing, which places them as “housing cost-burdened.”

“I think it’s being exacerbated by what were seeing with the housing prices here, both in the sale and the rental markets of prices continuing to go up, and folks on the margin are being pushed out, in some cases into homelessness,” Tietzel said.

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Tietzel believes solving it involves developing a system that addresses the individual root causes of each person’s homelessness, and that leverages numerous tools in the community.

“If you’re in a homeless situation — whether there’s a temporary roof over their head or not — every individual is unique, they’ve got unique circumstances. It could be a health issue they’re dealing with, it could be the lack of a job or the loss of a job, it could be a mental health issue, it could be a drug addiction issue,” he said.

“There are a variety of situations that come to bear on this. So I think it’s incumbent upon us to work hand and glove with partners such as the faith community, such as the county, such as the health commission and others to figure out how we can have an array of services we can provide that deal with their unique situations.”

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