EVERETT, Wash. — An advocacy group for the homeless is seeing an increase in homeless families as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are running into more families out there that are economically displaced," said Smiley. "They lost their jobs unexpectedly, the money is just not there and now they've got to survive."
On Saturday morning, Smiley and volunteers for The Hand Up Project, began a massive clean-up effort at a homeless camp off of Everett Mall Way and Third Avenue. The group had spent weeks moving the people who were living there out.
"We're taking it all out of there, all the garbage," Smiley explained. "We're giving more than enough ample opportunity to help them, we'll get them IDs, we'll get them to employment, we'll get them wherever they need to go to be able to get their life back together."
Smiley anticipates they will be removing anywhere from 200 to 300 shopping carts from the site and more than 14,000 needles. He also said they will be removing structures the homeless community living there had built.
The clean-up effort will continue Sunday and organizers are hoping more people will volunteer to help.
"For the people I'm helping they sit there and go, I can't believe I was like that and it builds their strength and the recovery," Smiley said. "The work that they're doing sometimes gets hard, but it's worth it."
Face shields, masks, hand sanitizer and gloves will be provided for volunteers throughout the weekend. If you would like to volunteer you can contact organizers through the Hand Up Project website.