Answering your questions about Marysville’s approach to homelessness

This attached video is from an earlier report about Marysville’s efforts to reduce homelessness.

Earlier this week, 4 News Now reported on a program in Marysville that some believe could potentially be a solution to Spokane’s homelessness crisis.

The program gives people an ultimatum: get treatment or go to jail. Spokane mayoral candidate Nadine Woodward has praised Marysville’s program, saying she would like to adopt something similar if elected.

After the story aired, many people reached out with questions about the program. 4 News Now’s Maher Kawash answers those questions below.

What about the homeless people that are not addicts?

Marysville’s program is not for that group of people. It targets people who are experiencing homelessness and battling addiction at the same time. If they do not seek treatment, police can arrest them for illegal camping.

Marysville’s mayor, Jon Nehring, said a mesh housing program has been successful for those who became homeless for a reason other than addiction. He said it has taken a collaboration from churches and the Union Gospel Mission to make that work.

Woodward said she hopes to incorporate something similar into her plan if she is elected.

“The faith community and the business community, and get them on board and actually ask them to mentor some of these people who are going through every step of the process… because they’re going to need help,” said Woodward.

Who is going to pay for it?

Snohomish County Human Services funds the drug rehab treatment in Marysville, as well as six months of that person’s housing once it is secured.

Here in Spokane, Woodward said she prefers funding a program like the one in Marysville over some low barrier housing options; ones that do not restrict shelter because of drug or alcohol use.

“The cost is fairly, I don’t want to say nominal, but it’s certainly not the same as going out and spending millions and millions of dollars on low barrier shelters that, let’s face it, quite frankly aren’t moving people along,” said Woodward.

Could Spokane even accomplish this with our current jail?

Currently, no.

Marysville has its own municipal jail that holds those arrested within the program.

“Our jail is overcrowded. I urge everyone to take a tour of the jail because those conditions are deplorable, and we need to figure out what the right size is for a new jail,” said mayoral candidate and current City Council President Ben Stuckart. “And we need a municipal service center where we take misdemeanors out and put them in a different system. Misdemeanors don’t belong in the county jail.”

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