Homelessness in Snohomish Co.: ‘You can arrest a few people but you can’t arrest your way out of the problem’

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Homelessness continues to be a big problem all over Western Washington, but it’s growing out of control in Snohomish County.

And county leaders say the increase in drug activity has a lot to do with it.

For Jan Lindstrom, homelessness has now become part of the norm in her neighborhood in Everett.

“As long as they stay on drugs, they’re not going to get help, and we’re going to have homelessness,” Lindstrom said.

“It takes time,” said Shari Ireton with Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. “This doesn’t happen over night.”

However, time may not necessarily be on their side.

Homelessness is on the rise in Snohomish County, according to Ireton, and it's an issue they're trying to tackle right away.

"You can arrest a few people, but you can't arrest your way out of the problem," Ireton said.

Lindstrom told Q13 News the house next door was vacant until squatters moved in.

She remembers at one point seeing people coming in and out of it at all hours of the day.

"I couldn't begin to tell you the horrors in that house," Lindstrom said.

Deputies have recently boarded up that house, but we're told it's just one of hundreds of nuisance properties all over the county. So they said they are working closely with the community and other agencies to not only crack down on the crime, but also get a better handle of the epidemic.

"We're really only one piece of the solution," said Lindstrom.

Right now, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office has two task forces that investigate homelessness all over the county.

Their goal is to work with these guys on getting them off drugs and off the streets for good so they don't end up in other abandoned houses.