A group of city council members from each of Skagit County’s four cities met Wednesday to talk about solutions to homelessness.
Mary Hudson, a Mount Vernon councilwoman, said she set up the meeting because she had a feeling council members don’t have a strong sense of what other cities are doing.
“We all have homelessness in our cities, but we never talk to each other about it,” she said. “Maybe other (cities) are doing something we don’t know about.”
Hudson said she decided to hold the meeting in private in order to allow council members to speak freely.
Burlington Councilman Rick DeGloria, the only Burlington representative who attended, said he was surprised to hear about the success of Mount Vernon’s embedded social worker.
The program, co-funded by Mount Vernon and Skagit County, has social worker Erin Von Fempe working in the city police department to connect with homeless people and help them get assistance.
DeGloria said he was impressed with the number of people Von Fempe has helped get connected to treatment.
“That’s something we haven’t done in Burlington at all,” he said.
Eric Johnson, Anacortes councilman, said he saw the meeting as a way to talk about pooling city resources and using them more effectively, and he said he hopes the group comes together again.
One attendee at the meeting raised the idea of a mobile shower facility, something Johnson said the cities could potentially invest in together and share. He said he may bring this back to the Anacortes City Council to study.
Sedro-Woolley Councilwoman Germaine Kornegay said she was also interested in exploring a shower facility.
She said she was disappointed to see that representatives from upriver towns such as Concrete and Lyman weren’t brought into the meeting.
“I really wish we could include these communities,” Kornegay said. “It seems like they’re always missing from the table.”
She said she would like to see the group continue to meet, but it may want to incorporate representatives from Skagit County or local nonprofits — groups that are already looking at ways to combat homelessness.
“We all need to get together so we aren’t duplicating work,” Kornegay said.
Hudson said the group may meet again in a couple months, but that it did not set a date.