Future homeless shelters in Snohomish County contaminated with meth

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The two hotels purchased by Snohomish County to be used as homeless shelters are contaminated with meth, according to the Snohomish County Office of Recovery and Resilience and Snohomish Health Department.

Kelsey Nyland with the Office of Recovery and Resilience sent KIRO 7 this statement about the contamination as well as how it will be paid for:

Much like the rest of the region, we have a housing and homelessness crisis in Snohomish County. The most recent (2022) Point-in-Time (PIT) count identified 1,184 people in 953 households residing in shelter, transitional housing, or living without shelter in Snohomish County the night of February 21, 2022, the highest number since 2012. The quickest way to expand shelter and housing options is to purchase existing facilities to house people. Some facilities of this kind may be contaminated with methamphetamines. That’s why we include in any purchase and sale agreement the requirement that the owner pay for the clean-up.

We believe it is a positive for the community not only to clean-up contaminated facilities (at the previous owners’ cost) but also improve security at the location and provide significant sheltering capacity and accompanying services for those experiencing homelessness.

During our due diligence and before closing on the property, we conducted testing on the two facilities, and contamination was found. Therefore, before closing on the properties, we lowered the agreed price to cover the costs of the clean-up. We closed on the properties at the end of last year. The final cost of the Everett property was $9.9 million. The Edmonds property was $8.4 million. Building from scratch would have approximately doubled the cost per unit.

There is no delay in the project. We built flexibility into the plan for these facilities to accommodate the wide variety of factors at play, including health and safety upgrades, market conditions that impact renovations, etc. Work on other aspects of the project, including permitting, finding service provider(s), and working on renovation plans, is continuing without disruption while the remediation work takes place.

We are in the process of securing contractors to do the work needed to clean up the property, get it ready for its new purpose, and build out a positive addition to our community.

The Snohomish Health Department says it has provided technical assistance on these properties at the county’s request. There are warning signs at the front of each property to notify people the areas are off-limits at this time.

The news of two future homeless shelter sites is concerning to some in the county, especially those still looking for a place to warm up as temperatures drop to below freezing.

“The weather takes so much out of people,” Kim Dedonado, who is homeless, told KIRO 7.

Those with the Jean Kim Foundation, an organization that helps provide food, clothes and other resources to those in need, says it has had dozens of different people ask them where they can go.

“I see probably 50 people a day that have nowhere to go,” Amberlee Bell, a site manager, said. “You can’t put a label to it. The need is astronomical.”

Bell and those still looking for a place to go wish the county had handled things differently, and they hope progress can be made to get the shelters open sooner rather than later.

“If you are trying to open up a shelter, don’t you think that you would take the precautions before taking the first deal that comes along?” Bell said.

“Because without clear points of accomplishment, then there is no real sense of, ‘Here’s the goal and I’m going to get a place to live. I’m going to be here and I’m going to be ok,’” Debonado said.

According to the county, this contamination did not delay the project going forward.

There’s no word on when exactly these shelters will open.

If you are looking for a place to warm up, the county has a list of shelter locations here.